A man who witnessed humanity at its worst and survived shared his story in a book and will sign copies of it this weekend at a book festival in Mineral Point.
Beaver Dam author François Musonera wrote “Surviving the Genocide,” detailing his experience during turmoil in Rwanda in the early 1990s that led to the extermination of more than 800,000 people.
Musonera escaped Rwanda in 1994 and lived in several countries before moving to the United States in 1997. He first lived in Platteville and said many people expressed curiosity about who he was. Once he learned English and was able to communicate, Musonera said he started telling his story. People found it interesting and educational, and suggested he write a book
“I was not sure about myself,” Musonera said. “I struggled with my ability to write in English.”
He learned Spanish, and became a Spanish teacher, first in Verona, and now in Hartford, where he has taught for seven years.
He said listening to the young people he taught helped prompt him to write the book. He heard students talk about how they hated their parents because they would not give them a car or let them go to the movies.
“These kids just don’t know what other kids go through in other places,” Musonera said.
Musonera published his book in March, and said it took him three years to write.
Musonera said the book shares the story of his life growing up in Rwanda, the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and how he escaped, coming to the United States as a refugee,. He also wrote about his thoughts of America and his experiences here and how he became a U.S. citizen.
“It was not easy for me to become a citizen,” Musonera said. “Many people take it for granted.”
Musonera said he was 23-years-old when he left Rwanda. He has lost a lot. He grew up in a big family with 10 siblings.
“Now we are six,” he said.
He said his mother died of natural causes, but his father was murdered. His remaining siblings are scattered all over the world. Two sisters live in France, a sister and a brother live in Belgium and another sister lives in Ohio. He’s lived in Beaver Dam for three years
Musonera uses vivid words and sound effects to depict witnessing war break out around him, from fear knotting his stomach to feeling strangely detached and passively observing, and comparing the sounds of shelling and gunfire to feeling like part of the audience of the percussion section of an orchestra.
Musonera shared his story during a talk at the Beaver Dam Community Library in September, and said copies of his book are available at Book World in downtown Beaver Dam.
He will present a reading and sign copies of his book, “Surviving the Genocide” at the Southwest Wisconsin Book Festival on Saturday. The book signing runs from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Quality Inn in Mineral Point. For more information about Musonera and for a full list of participating authors, visit www.swwibookfestival.com.