Left to Tell

by

Immaculée Ilibagiza

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Left to Tell can help.

Tutsi Term Analysis

Tutsis are a tribe of people living in Rwanda and other African nations such as Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), and Tanzania. Tutsis are thought to be physically distinguishable by their tall height, lighter skin, and thin noses, though as Immaculée points out, these physical characteristics are not a reliable way of determining a person’s tribe due to years of intermarriage. They are a minority population in Rwanda and were persecuted in the genocide, during which about 70% of the Tutsi population in Rwanda was murdered.

Tutsi Quotes in Left to Tell

The Left to Tell quotes below are all either spoken by Tutsi or refer to Tutsi. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Hay House edition of Left to Tell published in 2006.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Mom and Dad ignored the social and political reality they lived in, and instead taught that everyone was born equal. They didn't want their children growing up feeling paranoid or inferior because they were born Tutsi.

Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

Hundreds of thousands of Tutsis had fled Rwanda during the troubles of 1959 and 1973, as well as the many other times that Hutu extremists had gone on Tutsi killing sprees. They'd gone into exile to save their lives and those of their families. Mr. Gahigi called the rebels "foreigners" because most of them grew up in neighboring countries such as Uganda and Zaire—but that was only because President Habyarimana enforced a policy banning exiles from ever returning to Rwanda. He'd created a Tutsi diaspora, and entire generations of Rwandan Tutsis had grown up without once setting foot in their homeland.

Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

As I said, if these killers are driven only by hatred, we will force them away. But if the government is sending them, if these attacks are part of an organized plan to exterminate Tutsis, we are in serious trouble. The government has guns and grenades—it has an army and a militia—and we have no weapons at all. If the government plans to kill us, all we can do is pray. Let us use the time we have to repent. Let us pray for God to forgive our sins. If we are to die, let us die with our hearts clean… It doesn't matter if we live or die—the important thing is that we fight against this evil that has come to our homes!

Related Characters: Leonard Ukulikiyinkindi (speaker)
Page Number: 50-51
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

I knew that he wasn't entirely to blame for his ignorance because he'd learned his contempt for Tutsis in school . . . the same school I went to! Young Hutus were taught from an early age that Tutsis were inferior and not to be trusted, and they didn't belong in Rwanda. Hutus witnessed the segregation of Tutsis every day, first in the schoolyard and then in the workplace, and they were taught to dehumanize us by calling us "snakes" and "cockroaches." No wonder it was so easy for them to kill us—snakes were to be killed and cockroaches exterminated!

Related Characters: Immaculée Ilibagiza (speaker), Sembeba
Page Number: 85-86
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Left to Tell LitChart as a printable PDF.
Left to Tell PDF

Tutsi Term Timeline in Left to Tell

The timeline below shows where the term Tutsi appears in Left to Tell. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Eternal Spring
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...by love and doesn’t know that racism or prejudice exist. She doesn’t hear the words Tutsi or Hutu until starting school. Immaculée’s village, Mataba, is extremely safe, and she has a... (full context)
Chapter 2: Standing Up
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...when her teacher, Buhoro, tells all the Hutus to stand up. He then tells the Tutsis to stand up, and after, asks Immaculée why she didn’t stand for either. Immaculée admits... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
...are three tribes in Rwanda: the majority of the population is Hutu, a minority is Tutsi, and an even smaller minority is Twa, a pygmy tribe who live in the forest.... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...she didn’t realize it at the time, Immaculée lived through the 1973 coup in which Tutsis were driven out of their homes and killed in the streets. Her family escaped to... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...Buhoro is much kinder to Immaculée, gently telling her to stand when he calls out “Tutsi.” Immaculée doesn’t know what it means to be Tutsi, but she is happy to be... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
...are very short and thus easy to recognize, but the physical distinctions between Hutus and Tutsis are more subtle. Tutsis are supposedly taller and lighter-skinned, whereas Hutus are shorter, with wide... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...in her class, with an average grade of 94%. The boy ranked first is also Tutsi, and everyone else remains far behind. Immaculée’s grades are enough to ensure admission and a... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...class in order to “balance” ethnic representation in schools and the workforce by discriminating against Tutsis. A few weeks before Immaculée is due to begin high school, a neighbor informs her... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...her parents often. Also, the area in which it is situated is “openly hostile” to Tutsis. (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...is dazzled by the big city experience. Another of Immaculée’s close friends is a beautiful Tutsi student named Clementine. They agree to look out for one another among the “unfriendly” Hutus... (full context)
Chapter 3: Higher Learning
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...begins. Immaculée’s Civil Education teacher, Mr. Gagihi, arrives late to class and somberly announces that Tutsi rebels have crossed the border into Rwanda. Most of the rebels are the children of... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...Immaculée knows want to fight to make the country more equal. Hundreds of thousands of Tutsis escaped from Rwanda between 1959-73, mostly to Uganda and Zaire. Mr. Gagihi doesn’t mention this,... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
The students listen to the radio, which is broadcasting propaganda about Tutsis. The announcers claim that Tutsis are cannibals with devil horns and call them “cockroaches.” One... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...a local Hutu man promises to kill her as vengeance for the actions of the Tutsi rebels. The next day, Clementine takes Immaculée to a room in a utility building and... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...false. They learn from the BBC that President Habyarimana has invented a false attack by Tutsis on the Presidential Palace in order to arrest thousands. The prisons are now overflowing with... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
After two weeks, President Habyarimana was pressured into releasing thousands of Tutsi prisoners, including Leonard. At this point Kabayi apologized and pretended it was all a misunderstanding.... (full context)
Chapter 4: Off to University
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...woman in the family to attend university. He warns Immaculée that because she is a Tutsi woman, she will face prejudice, but Immaculée assures both her parents she will make them... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...While she and John are on a bus they see the Interahamwe rob a middle-aged Tutsi woman and strip off her clothing, pushing her to the ground. Immaculée stands up to... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Soon after, President Habyarimana signs a peace agreement with the Tutsi rebels. This at first seems positive, but the peace agreement ironically ends up provoking more... (full context)
Chapter 5: Returning Home
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
During Immaculée’s third year at university, the radio waves are flooded with hateful propaganda about Tutsi “cockroaches.” The announcers claim that the Tutsis are planning to kill Hutus and they chant... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...and sullen. He tells Immaculée that he saw killers with grenades and a list of Tutsi families in the area. He says that it’s a “death list” and that they are... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...better now that Habyarimana is dead. However, they soon hear on the radio that 20 Tutsi families have already been killed in Kigali in the night. It sounds as if the... (full context)
Chapter 6: No Going Back
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...April 7th, 1994 listening to the radio. The Rwandan radio stations encourage Hutus to attack Tutsis with machetes. Just before evening, Immaculée finally leaves the radio and begins studying for her... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...wakes Rose and assures her that everything is ok. She is shocked to see 10,000 Tutsis now camped out around her family home. Leonard, who has not slept, is assuring everyone... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...few hours later, Interahamwe attack the crowd outside Immaculée’s home. Leonard and a hundred other Tutsi men chase away the killers, but it is certain that this is only a momentary... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...that if he goes alone he will certainly be killed. She shouts at the other Tutsi men in the crowd, asking why they are not supporting Leonard. While Rose and Leonard... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Pastor’s House
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...reassures her, telling her that she can stay in his sister’s room. Lechim’s mother was Tutsi, although she died a few years earlier. Augustine starts crying. He is Hutu but looks... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...accompanied by soldiers, but the soldiers then summoned the killers, who attacked the crowd of Tutsis who’d been camped out around the house. The killers burned down the house, and Leonard... (full context)
Chapter 8: Farewell to the Boys
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...sitting alone in a bedroom when Pastor Murinzi opens the door and leads five other Tutsi women into the room, telling them to stay there and be quiet. Immaculée barely knows... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...her, but worries that, as has happened during previous massacres, he may only be hiding Tutsi women in the hope of raping or marrying them once there are no Tutsi men... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...night, Immaculée lies in agony thinking about Augustine and Vianney’s fate. One of the other Tutsi women, Therese, tries to comfort her by saying that, as “strong men,” they will be... (full context)
Chapter 9: Into the Bathroom
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
After saying goodbye to Vianney and Augustine, Immaculée joins the other Tutsi women as they are led by Pastor Murinzi into a bathroom that is only four... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...Murinzi promising someone that he is “a good Hutu” and that he would never hide Tutsis. Immaculée reflects that if the killers found her and the other Tutsi women in the... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...behavior of the killers, who stabbed his furniture and suitcases in case there were any Tutsi babies in there. Their eyes were “glazed and red,” which made the pastor think they... (full context)
Chapter 10: Confronting My Anger
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...and the other women overhear Pastor Murinzi talking to his son, Sembeba. Sembeba suggests that Tutsis deserve to be massacred; in school he learned that Tutsis did the same thing to... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...massacres of 1959 or 1973. The government has shut down the country until every last Tutsi is killed. Many Tutsis fled to churches, but the killers then locked the doors and... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...listen, and he agrees. A government minister encourages every Hutu listening to kill all the Tutsis in the country. Immaculée realizes with horror that Pastor Murinzi was telling the truth. She... (full context)
Chapter 12: No Friends to Turn To
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...Murinzi’s patience appears to be running out. He accuses Leonard of being “a very bad Tutsi,” saying that he was helping the RPF to plan. civil war. He then tells the... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...Rwandans are normally private about their emotions. Later, Immaculée hears on the radio that more Tutsis have been killed in her own province, Kibuye, than anywhere else. The president expresses his... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...Sony begs Pastor Murinzi to let her in, but he tells her he cannot hide Tutsis and shuts the door. Immaculée knows that Sony now faces certain death and prays for... (full context)
Chapter 13: A Gathering of Orphans
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...crops are dying from neglect, a government representative insists that they remain focused on killing Tutsis even if they must spend time in the fields. One day government soldiers give Pastor... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...are still making advances through Rwanda. Sometimes the BBC plays messages of Paul Kagame telling Tutsis not to lose hope. Meanwhile, Pastor Murinzi is getting increasingly panicked about what he will... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
In the middle of May, Pastor Murinzi brings two more Tutsi women into the bathroom named Malaba and Solange. Malaba is about the same age as... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...were even murdering Hutus who forgot their identity cards or who opposed the killing of Tutsis. The women survived by screaming “Hutu Power! Kill all the cockroaches!” They explain that there... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...about her family. Soon after, she overhears people talking outside about the death of a Tutsi man who had a master’s degree. The killers chopped his skull open, claiming they wanted... (full context)
Chapter 15: Unlikely Saviors
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...which Pastor Murinzi says proves that the French have arrived to help the slaughter of Tutsis. However, soon after the French announce that they want to establish “safe havens” for Tutsi... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...is “a bad idea.” He doesn’t trust that the French are truly going to help Tutsis and warns that they will probably kill her on sight. Immaculée says she would rather... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...and informs a group of killers that the rumors are true, the pastor is hiding Tutsis in his house. When the pastor tells the women, he looks terrified, and prays that... (full context)
Chapter 16: Keeping the Faith
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...children to look at the women, and some of the children exclaim that they are “Tutsi ghosts.” The pastor reminds his children that “there, but for the grace of God, go... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Pain of Freedom
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...can tell that he is trying to judge from their physical appearance whether they are Tutsi or Hutu. Immaculée is the only one with an identity card, which she presents to... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...many others were attacked by killers. Laurent hid the brothers, but spent his days murdering Tutsis along with the rest of the killers. (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...and is briefly comforted by fond memories of her mother. There are about 20 other Tutsis at the camp who had survived by living in the forest for the past three... (full context)
Chapter 19: Camp Comfort
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...the bathroom, as the memories evoked by seeing them are so painful. Every day, more Tutsi survivors arrive at the camp. Immaculée hears harrowing stories, but also makes some close friends.    (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...the survivors, Florence, tells Immaculée that she hid in a chapel with hundreds of other Tutsis, who were then attacked by killers. Florence was struck by a machete and woke up... (full context)
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...is still continuing in the east and south of Rwanda. There are now almost 150 Tutsi survivors at the camp. Some have lost limbs and have badly infected wounds, and others... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...Immaculée’s family. Aloise admitted that, though she was “legally” Hutu, her husband and children were Tutsi. She and the children fled Kigali during the genocide, leaving her husband, Fari, hiding in... (full context)
Chapter 20: The Road to the Rebels
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...hours to evacuate the camp and that the refugees will be brought to stay with Tutsi soldiers at their camp nearby. Immaculée gathers her few meagre belongings, but on second thought... (full context)
Chapter 21: On to Kigali
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
Immaculée stares at the Tutsi soldier pointing his gun at her and tells God that it is up to Him... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...“Teacher.” With a heavy heart, Immaculée tells Bazil that her family, along with almost every Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Mataba, are all dead. Bazil’s own parents, four brothers, and three... (full context)
Chapter 22: The Lord’s Work
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Education, Discipline, and Growth Theme Icon
...early October, all her friends from the camp had left Aloise’s house. Over a million Tutsis who’d left Rwanda during the 1959 and 1973 massacres have returned to the country, shaping... (full context)
Chapter 23: Burying the Dead
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Immaculée’s family home has been completely destroyed. Her few surviving Tutsi neighbors show her where Rose and Damascene were hastily buried. Hearing the details of how... (full context)
God, Faith, and Miracles Theme Icon
Love vs. Prejudice Theme Icon
Forgiveness and Redemption Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
...Esperance, who are doing far better than when she last saw them. A group of Tutsi survivors and Hutu friends assemble for Rose and Damascene’s reburial. When they dig up Damascene’s... (full context)