First Lady Jeannette Kagame was part of the hundreds who turned up for a night of literature where renowned poet Gaël Faye made an act about his book, “Petit Pays”.
The event dubbed Café Littéraire was held at Kigali Public Library on Thursday evening.
Faye’s book titled “Petit Pays” tells a story of a young boy named Gabriel (nicknamed ‘Gabi’) who grew up in Burundian capital, Bujumbura. Faye says it is a tribute to the “untold stories” of African childhood.
After the act, Mrs Kagame hailed Faye for his literature describing it as a moving tribute to “our history.”
“Thank you @GaelFaye for your 'Petit Pays', a moving tribute to our history and the strength of our people,” Mrs Kagame said on her twitter timeline.
It was indeed a jovial evening filled with live music performance, poetry and panel discussion (book reviewing) by the French-Rwandan singer and novel writer, Gaël Faye; as revelers reminisced childhood memories and they listened to the literature which depicts the African child’s life.
Petit Pays tells a story about a group of children living in the Burundian capital Bujumbura during the 90s. Their childhood life is a paradise; they live near nature, in a friendly atmosphere and then, war breaks out.
One of the characters, Gabriel, tries to stay away; he doesn’t want to be a Hutu or a Tutsi. He just wants to remain a child. He finds that his way to avoid the violence is to read books. In spite of his effort, however, the war is a reality he has to face.
Then there is the same character as an adult, 20 years later.
He reflects on the story of his young self. He now lives in Paris and wants to go back to the dead end of Bujumbura and find answers to his fears and questions about his childhood, and to find the people he left there.
Though Faye claims that the book is not just about his life, he admits that the tale is inspired by Rwandan-French character “Gabi”; whose father is French and mother Rwandan who was a refugee in Burundi just like in Faye’s case.
In a recent interview with The New Times, Faye acknowledged that the novel carries some of his autobiographical elements to create a realistic and authentic basis.
Petit Pays has been well received globally, becoming a best-seller.
“When I wrote this book I anticipated that it would mostly be read by Burundians and Rwandan who lived in Burundi. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that Petit Pays would be offered as a Christmas gift in France,” Faye said.
He added, “We have heard and read several literature about Africa; about the genocide, mass killings, machete and little has been said about the beautiful life of an African child and African youth. I just wanted to tell a simple story but with rich history in it.”
Faye also announced that the book will soon be translated into 29 languages including Kinyarwanda and Kirundi, among others.