Hero of Hotel Rwanda warns of ‘simmering volcano’ in his country

Paul Rusesabagina actually sounds a bit like Don Cheadle, the actor who played him in the movie Hotel Rwanda – a 2004 film that greatly expanded public recognition of the genocide a decade earlier in the east-central African nation, an event that killed perhaps a million people.

Or, well, I guess it’s more that Cheadle learned to sound a lot like Rusesabagina (which, for your information, sounds like Reh-sessah-ba-GEE-na).

It’s now been another decade and so the stories are coming out to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide – an almost unimaginable tragedy in which ethnic conflict between the Hutus and Tutsis exploded across the Great Lakes Region of Africa, also affecting DR Congo, Burundi and Uganda as well.

Since then, Rwanda under President Paul Kagame has made stunning progress on all sorts of fronts – health, economics and infrastructure. Many leading humanitarian and aid organizations regard Rwanda as an amazing African success story and Kagame as a visionary leader.

Rusesabagina wants the world to recognize the other side of Rwanda – a nation that lacks many democratic and political freedoms due to the authoritarian nature of the Kagame government. In this podcast, we talk to this former hotel manager who put his life at risk to save some 1,200 people and whom Kagame once hailed as a hero – until Rusesabagina fell out of favor and had to flee the country.

Listen in (and feel the warm audio embrace of the Humanosphere).

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About Author

Ansel Herz

Ansel Herz is a freelance multimedia journalist whose objective is to “go to where the silence is." His work has been published by ABC News, The Nation magazine, the New York Daily News, Al Jazeera English, Free Speech Radio News, Inter-Press News and many other publications. A Seattle native and survivor of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ansel is producer of Humanosphere's podcast, among other things. You can contact him at ansel.herz[at]gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Ansel.