Speaker of the Rwanda Parliment 1997-2000 & Author
Joseph Sebarenzi lost his parents, seven siblings, and countless other family members when 800,000 Tutsi were brutally murdered over the course of 90 days in 1994 by extremist Rwandan Hutu — an efficiency that exceeded even that of the Nazi Holocaust. Sebarenzi returned to Rwanda after the genocide and was elected speaker of Rwandan parliament,…
Joseph Sebarenzi lost his parents, seven siblings, and countless other family members when 800,000 Tutsi were brutally murdered over the course of 90 days in 1994 by extremist Rwandan Hutu — an efficiency that exceeded even that of the Nazi Holocaust. Sebarenzi returned to Rwanda after the genocide and was elected speaker of Rwandan parliament, only to be forced into exile once again.
Outbreaks of ethnic violence had been occurring in Rwanda since colonial times when the Belgians ruled the region. As a child, Sebarenzi twice hid with his mother during episodes of killing, narrowly escaping with his life. When he was a teenager, his father sent him away to school in Congo, telling him, “If we are killed, you will survive.”
Returning to Rwanda after the 1994 genocide, Sebarenzi rose through the ranks of Parliament, eventually becoming Speaker, third in power only to the country’s president. In this role he represented his country all over the world, including as a speaker at the United Nations, the European Union Assembly in Belgium and France, the Inter-parliamentary Union in Egypt, and the U.N. Human Rights Commission in South Africa. Forced to resign, and informed of a plot to assassinate him, he fled Rwanda and found exile in the United States. He still champions a broad process of restorative justice in Rwanda as the country struggles with its history.
His memoir, God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation, is a harrowing tale of survival and reconciliation. The poetic title of the book is taken from an old saying, “God spends the day elsewhere, but He sleeps in Rwanda,” but this African nation is not alone in having had a shameful history of ethnic violence. God Sleeps in Rwanda demonstrates how horrific events can occur when the rest of the world stands by and does nothing. It also shows us how the lessons of Rwanda can prevent future tragedies from happening in that country and other parts of the world.
At the podium, Sebarenzi tells his unforgettable and remarkable story while imparting a message of peace and forgiveness. Audiences will be inspired by the eloquence and wisdom of a man who has every reason to be bitter and hateful, but chooses instead to live a life of love, compassion, grace and forgiveness.
Today Sebarenzi speaks about reconciliation and conflict management to thousands of people at high schools, colleges, universities, and fundraising events across the United States and Canada. He has also provided expert commentary on NPR, BBC, and the Voice of America on matters related to genocide, reconciliation, and restorative justice.
In addition, Sebarenzi serves on the faculty at the School for International Training in Vermont, teaching reconciliation and conflict management courses. He holds a master’s degree in international and intercultural management from the School for International Training and is a doctoral candidate in international human rights law at the National University of Ireland.
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
A Conversation With Joseph Sebarenzi
A Message of Peace and Reconcilliation
Joseph Sebarenzi Speech- SIT Graduation May 2014
1 HOUR OR LESS