An Ordinary Man – the true story of Hotel Rwanda

Paul Rusesabagina


This movie and book went in a contrary direction. The movie was made and then Paul Rusesabagina  wrote the true story. Considering his weapon was words, the book feels like the ‘right’ way for him to tell the tale.


And what a tale it is. This book narrates the build up to the genocide in Rwanda and the seventy six days Paul kept 1 268 people alive and safe in his hotel. The story is told openly and plainly, without drama or exaggeration. And this makes it even more powerful and harrowing than had any of those tools been employed. Told like a simple narrative, the horror of what happened and how the world let it happen is raw and obvious.


Paul does not try to excuse the Rwandans or paint them in any sort of sympathetic light. But he also dispels the idea that the mass murder of 100 000 people was tribal rivalry gone awry. The international community should have to answer for each of the deaths, both in creating and allowing to fester, the circumstances in which they occurred, as well as for doing nothing to intervene once they had started.


Not an easy read by any description, this book will keep you turning the pages, grimacing and struggling to believe. This is the kind of book that should be a setwork at school – maybe if more people read it fewer would be capable of recreating it in the future.


Never Again is the hope Rwanda has after 1994. But unless the international community of power do something, this kind of slaughter based on race will continue to occur. Hitler, Bosnia, Serbia, Rwanda – how many times do we have to see his kind of extreme racism before everyone says Never Again. And means it?