Day 10: 🇷🇼 Not my Time to Die

In a Nutshell:

This was the first book to follow the full story of one person’s multifaceted experiences of genocide and it was also the first account authored by a Rwandan survivor. Yolande Mukagasana was a nurse before being hunted down, her husband and children were murdered but she survived.


I read this book on holiday for my 5th year anniversary with my husband in 2019 whilst sat looking out at Lake Mutanda, not far from the Rwandan border, a day after trekking with the gorillas. A day after finishing it, we ended our holiday in Kigali and visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The Hotel, Mille Collines where we stayed in Kigali had a huge part to play in Mukagasana’s survival.

A fascinating, thought provoking and horrifying book. Necessary reading for the times we live in, showing how thin the line between humanity and barbarism really is.


“Is there no good milk left at all? Not in Rwanda, not in the rest of the world?’ ‘No, Yolande, there is only sour milk left.”

“Rwanda has been in a permanent state of genocide, of never-ending massacres. I was five in 1959, nine in 1963 when there were massacres in Bufundu Gikongoro, thirteen in 1967 for the massacres in the Bugesera. In 1973 when there were killings across the country, I was nineteen. There were massacres in Kibirira in 1990, in the Bugesera in 1992.”

“One of the major motivations for this translation was that Rwanda has moved from promoting French as the international language of business and education to favouring English. This was in part due to revulsion at France’s role in the genocide and in part in order to align Rwanda with other East African Anglophone countries. Because young people no longer grow up learning French at school, a whole generation of young Rwandans had not been able to read this important book. Our most important audience for the translation, then, is Rwandans themselves.”


Want to read Not My Time to Die? Buy it here.

Not my Time to Die

Written by Yolande Mukagasana

Translated from the French by Zoe Norridge

04/04/2019, Huza Press

ISBN: 9789997772565

#WITMonth for 2021 is curated by Jess Andoh-Thayre

I am 35, from London but currently living in Cambodia. I am married to a diplomat and we have been posted in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and now Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Prior to meeting my husband, I had also lived in La Serena, Chile and Madrid, Spain.

I am a French, Spanish and English teacher, translator, avid reader and now blogger. When I am not teaching, reading and blogging, I love catching a brilliant sunset, swimming, cycling and hanging out with my husband and son.

Author: Yolande Mukagasana

Yolande Mukagasana is a Rwandan writer, campaigner and survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Translator: Zoe Norridge

Dr Zoe Norridge is a senior lecturer at King’s College London in English and Comparative Literature. Her research currently focuses on cultural responses to genocide in Rwanda. She is Associate Editor for the Wasafiri magazine.

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