MOSES GAHIGI meets internationally acclaimed Rwanda author Dr Jean Paul Kimonyo
Dr Jean Paul Kimonyo looks more like a banker than a writer. But he has successfully written about one of the most painful fates in the history of mankind: the Genocide.
Interviewing people, who revealed unbearable ordeals of people gruesomely tortured during Rwanda’s holocaust was a painful process. But during this time, his wife gave birth to their second child, explains Dr Kimonyo.
He was writing about horrific things yet his beloved wife was bringing a life into the world. He was somehow relieved.
The 44-year-old, who is the founder and director of COGITO consultancy firm, has published two books.
His first book, ‘The Critical Review of the Interpretations of the Rwandan Conflict’ was published in 2001.
Dr Kimonyo’s recent work ‘Rwanda: The Popular Genocide’ was published in French by Karthala publishers in France in April this year.
Kimonyo’s latest book discusses the root causes of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, highlighting the philosophy behind the mass participation, something that perhaps earned the massacre an unprecedented mark in history.
When asked about what inspired him to write the book, Kimonyo who has a doctorate in political science disclosed that it all began with his doctoral thesis that dwelt on genocide.
While Dr Kimonyo undertook most of his academic pursuits outside Rwanda, he has always had his mother country at the centre of his heart, and this has always influenced his writing.
Inspired by his nationalistic feelings for his country, he felt that by digging into the root causes of the Rwandan genocide, the catastrophe can be avoided, not only in Rwanda, but even in other societies in the world.
But it goes back further than this too. Dr Kimonyo revealed that since childhood, he had always dreamt of being a writer. He remembers one day, when he was 13, his parents asking him what he wants to be. “I want to be a writer.” The answer was instantaneous.
Dr Kimonyo despite his grueling academic journey, has never celebrated any graduation, right from his first degree to his doctorate. Despite the achievements he felt he always had something unfinished.
It will be after publishing the English version of his book, that he will have something to celebrate, and that’s when he will throw a party, Dr Kimonyo explains.
Having had no authorship or writing training, Dr Kimonyo says the secret for his writing has been reading which he has done extensively. It is intellectual curiosity that drove him, coupled with his love for learning.
But it has not been easy. Writing, the doctor explains is a process that calls for immense support. To write his book, many people of different capacities supported him.
His thesis supervisor helped him a lot. It was her who challenged him to write a book that meets international standards. His wife, whose parents perished in the Genocide, was another asset to the success of the book, because she kept him motivated.
“I got depressed and discouraged at times, but my wife would console me back to my feet,” the author says.
Writing books is the most demanding thing he has ever done because of the time and resources needed.
However, Dr Kimonyo has always enjoyed the pleasure of creation and discovery. “Writing requires a lot of sacrifice, and a considerable degree of resiliency, because at times things don’t come out your way, but a writer needs to calm down and move on until the end.”
Dr Kimonyo said that his book was targeting the intellectuals and politicians around the world. He explains that his biggest readership is not in fact in Rwanda.
He has so far been invited in various institutions of higher learning to give lectures, among which are YALE University in the United States, The Canadian Centre for Genocide Studies, the University of Anthwerp, Belgium, ULK, NUR.
The book is available in Karisimbi Bookstore or Ikirezi Bookstore. For more information visit www.jeanpaulkimonyo.com.