Excerpt... Despite all this loss and the perpetual confusion, unable to understand the true complexities of our fractured universe. But Lord knows the anxieties that ran through our minds, the answerable questions that begged answers our young mind could never comprehend." Page 56
Gabriel Ndayishimiye's Run Elvin is a memoir that had me thrilled, reminiscing, contemplating, and captive until I finished indulging my relatable emotions in it. It's a story of survival; undilutedly historical, shockingly enthralling, sorrowful, and consequentially inspiring.
This book detailed the life of the author, growing up as a refugee across some African nations. Gabriel's story alongside his mother and other relatives started during the Rwanda's crises-when gruesome killings forced most Rwandans to seek refuge in some neighboring countries. Gabriel's mother fled to Burundi seeking asylum. After some months, extended conflict in Burundi and Rwanda forced them to flee to Tanzania. It all came to halt when the Tanzania government announced forced repatriation, they restricted returning to Rwanda, thus, sought after refuge in Malawi. The journey to Malawi was full of dread, living in the refugee camp was nothing sort of a horrifying experience as it unfolds into events that would eventually determine Gabriel's fate.
I found some notions expounded in this book undoubtedly true, part of which includes the challenges that African youth undergoes to attain higher education, this is a situation that is still predominant in most African nations-till today, as many bright, talented students are victims of this saddening occurrence, deprived of access to the education they truly deserved, through different factors - poverty inclusive. I admire the tone and solemnity of the narrator's voice, the first-person point of view, and the writing style made for a somber read, in a way that arouse empathy.
In my mental apprehension, this book does not only detail the life of the author, it is a look and a reflection into what most Africans are passing through. As a Nigerian, I found most of the content about Africa, as illustrated in this book-prevalent in our community, that some had me resonating about my yesteryears, and that-that I've seen in my community. This section of the book could be thought of as a movie play, the level of emotions instilled in it is grievously tragedic.
Considering the historical account expounded in this book, and a way that it chronicles the Rwanda's 1994 heinous Genocide, this part reminded me of the American historical drama, titled, Sometimes In April which expounds on the Anti-Tutsi racism, and Hutu Power, this itself, is a topic that I'd love to examine further. I also admire the fact that this book surreptitiously delves into the history of Rwandan colonization, and its effect on the country and its citizen. Rwanda colonization, just like other African country's colonization has a remarkable and memorable negative effect on the soil of its land, this section has a swift resemblance to Chinua Achebe's There Was A Country.
This is not just a memoir, in my opinion, I consider this book as a look into "Life in Rwanda," a look into "The struggles of a Refugee," it's distinctively educative, it's a book that ought to be read in secondary and tertiary institutions across Rwanda, Malawi, Tanzania, and even beyond. It's a book that would help in the preservation of Africans cultural heritage, it's pathos in nature, informative and encouraging, I jot some quote which I am going to imbibe in my 'own' life afterward.
I love the author's transparency in telling his story, his story would arouse hope into many unheard asylum seekers who are in a similar situation, or a more critical condition. This book made me remember the notorious and tragedic story of African migrants who fled their countries in pursuit of a greener pasture in Europe, through the Atlantic ocean, many of them, who started the journey couldn't make it to the end, many get stranded in the Sahara, some died of starvation and poor health, some were unimaginably abused, tortured, raped, enslaved - the list is endless; those who made it to Europe or back to their home country has a heroic story to tell. I shall continue to think about the pains that African asylum seekers both home and abroad undergo, the peril is inconceivable.
How Gabriel survived his horrific childhood experience, educational obstacles, shame, and humiliation in the refugee camp is what I shall restrict from revealing further as an attempt to keep this review spoiler-free, yet, I'd love to learn more about the Hutu and Tutsi crisis. There are a lot of facts expounded in this book that, in my opinion, would pick the interest of general literary lovers.
This is just a brief overview of the works compiled in Run Elvin, there are many more besides, for you to check out for yourselves. The margin of emotions and life-saving messages contained in Run Elvin is indescribable. Lovers of memoir, history, nonfiction, and literature at large would find pleasure reading this captivating novel. The story of Gabriel is reflectional, painful, and motivating. Born out of mental acuity, I look forward to reading more of his future works, and the next book in the trilogy of Run Elvin. I can't wait to see how his story would serve as a voice for the dying and unheard souls. I shall continue to think over this historical, shockingly absorbing, and tearful story of a destined lad. This review is from the perception of a literary critic.