Tharcisse Seminega tells a powerful and important story of harrowing terror and hatred, extraordinary kindness and courage, and true faith and humanity.
Religion is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it offers like-minded people strength and solace. On the other hand, as in places like Northern Ireland and the Balkans, it proved to be a divisive weapon against “The Other.” It can nourish the soul or create lethal intolerance seen globally in the past and today. As in the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Gulag-eras, Jehovah’s Witnesses kept their profound belief in Jehovah and faced persecution at every turn. Just a quarter of a century ago, the Brothers and Sisters once again faced persecution during the Rwandan genocide of 100 days starting in April 1994. The harrowing narrative of Jehovah Witness Tharcisse Seminega reveals both the evil of the genocidal marauders of the Hutus as well as the goodness of those who risked their lives to help Tharcisse and his family survive a brutal massacre that left 800,000 Rwandans dead. No Greater Love: How My Family Survived the Genocide in Rwanda is a riveting story of rescue which compels the reader to understand more keenly the moral choices that face humans every day but especially in moments of crisis.
This is a moving, first-person account of surviving the genocide in 1994 in Rwanda. Heartfelt and at times raw, but always measured, the book will draw in readers and provide powerful insight into Rwanda’s history and into the sheer terror of living through the genocide. Crucially, the book details the risks a number of Rwandans took to shelter, hide, and feed the Seminega family. Stories such as these—of rescue and risk to do the right thing in the face of state coercion, peer pressure, and opportunism—deserve to be central to the memory of the genocide and to Rwanda as that country endeavors to chart a path toward a peaceful future.
Prof. Seminega’s memoir is a powerful story of resilience, faith, and, above all, self-sacrificial agapic love. By sharing his own life story on the backdrop of Rwanda’s national history, Seminega’s book will leave you much better informed about the political and historical antecedents of the genocide. But above all, you will walk away from this book with a newfound appreciation for the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian community that truly lived up to its name during the horror of 1994.
No Greater Love… is a stirring account of the Rwandan Genocide told mainly through the powerful, often troubling though also inspiring personal accounts of Rwandans Tharcisse Seminega and his wife Chantal. They are Tutsis who experienced the genocide. The book helps us to understand the history of the genocide and the forces that turned many of the Rwandan Hutu into their deadly enemies. While colonial polices and earlier Tutsi dominance played a role in polarizing the society and creating hostility most troubling is Seminega’s descriptions of the role of the Catholic Church that had allied itself with Hutu extremists. Its clergy stirred up hatred and urged Hutu congregants to slaughter their Tutsi neighbors. Major massacres occurred in churches and on parish grounds. Tharcisse and Chantal watched the involvement of the Catholic Church with horror as they had devoted much of their early lives discussed in detail to this church. The international peace keeping force on the ground proved ineffective and the international community made no significant attempt to stop the genocide. The ray of hope that shines through the gloom of the book is Tharcisse’s account of his joining Jehovah’s Witnesses, a community that he saw as embodying true Christian values and resisting the violent polarization that became so dominant in Rwanda. His fellow Rwandan Witnesses, often Hutu, at great personal risk saved Tharcisse, Chantal and their five children.