This mix of poetry and narrative does justice to a ten-year journey during which the author deeply resonates with the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, an experience through which she struggles with the questions arising from the physical and psychological consequences of war, as well as the pain, anguish and terror that linger long after.
It shows how perpetrators of violence and their victims live together under conditions of emotional turmoil, daily anxiety, and utter desperation. Yet, in the face of these seemingly insurmountable obstacles her words echo with optimism and the faith that our world will become a better place.
The first half of “He Didn’t Die Easy” focuses on survivors of the 100 days of unchecked violence, which finally ended with the deaths more than one million people collected during Kimani time as a journalist in Rwanda between 1999 and 2005. The second part of the book, “Ramblings of a Troubled Mind,” includes a more personal perspective, and is “reflective of my childhood,” says Kimani. Much of the poetry in the book describes the physical and emotional impacts of the war. She writes about the suffering of women infected with HIV/AIDS, who are poor and have no access to treatment.
In her book she poses difficult and realistic questions. Why do people suffer? Why do some suffer more than others? And what do we do when life turns out to be anything but what we hoped for? The sections “The mail will not be coming...” and “He didn’t die easy...” describe the anguish, pain, and terror of the daily experiences of the men and women in her work in Rwanda, Burundi, and the DRC. The poetry is painful and harrowing, and no attempts are made to sanitize what can only be described as intolerable. “
It is a personal search for hope and meaning in the face of the haunting and overwhelming realities of pain, poverty, violence, war and genocide that the author has seen, experienced, and written about during the course of her life’s work about our shared humanity, and how people manage to endure amid unimaginable tragedy.
Kimani says that the inspiration of this book is life, by the people who she has met in the course of her work, by their pain, their fears, their anguish, their hope, their incredible courage, their determination to go on, their love of life, their despair, and sometimes, sadly, the terrible experience of watching a human being give up, give in and die away.
He Didn’t Die Easy is an example of the experience of an outsider who just does not seek to empathize with the troubled insider, but one who emotionally gels in the soul of the troubled soul, and seeks to portray it plainly, without romanticizing the pain and seeking to draw sympathy from others at the same time drawing in the philosophical ‘why’ questions that everybody really can only answer in their own way.