We discovered his journey and his striking and poetic pen in 2006 with the publication of his first book, “Inyenzi or the Cockroaches”, in which she recounted her persecuted childhood in the 1960s among the Tutsi deportees, the struggle to preserve life in the midst of chaos, but also the massacres heralding the genocide from the first years of independence in 1962. Born in Gikongoro , in the south-west of Rwanda, Scholastique Mukasonga claims to have an oral tradition but came to literature through this need to testify.
From book to book, she offers “paper tombs” to all her murdered relatives as much as she restores the atmosphere of a time of terror and reveals new pages of Rwandan history. In Kibogo ascended to heaven, published by Gallimard in 2020, an epic and curiously funny novel, on a subject that is not funny, the novelist told us about the forced conversion of Rwanda, its evangelization. With Sister Deborah, which she signs today at Gallimard, Scholastique Mukasonga looks back on this story of conversion to Christianity in East Africa, but from the figure of the prophetess and thaumaturge Sister Deborah. The opportunity to immerse ourselves in some key moments of his career and learn more about his creative process.
- Novel : “ Sister Deborah by Scholastique Mukasonga was published on October 6, 2022 by GallimardWhite collection.
“The 1930s saw a vast movement of conversion to Christianity throughout East Africa. A wave of evangelical revivals swept through Uganda and Kenya. In Rwanda, the white fathers celebrated the “tornado of the Holy Spirit”. African-Americans founded an evangelical mission there. Reverend Marcus preaches the imminent coming of a black savior. But Sister Deborah, prophetess and wonderworker, proclaims that the Messiah will be a black woman: “A thousand years of happiness for the women after thousands of years of misfortune!
The women go on strike, the troubles spread, quickly repressed by the colonial troops. Sister Deborah disappears, legends are born, she is believed to be dead and reincarnated. Ikirezi, a sickly child whom she once cured, who has become Miss Jewels, a brilliant academic, is following in her footsteps. She finds her in Nairobi under the name of Mama Nganga. Alas, Mama Nganga will soon after be burned alive during anti-witchcraft riots. Miss Jewels embarks on a new investigation into the circumstances of this death, which will put her in danger. Will she follow mysterious matrons and agree to give birth to the expected Messiah? Or prefer to give birth to a book to announce the revival of radical feminist movements?
- Scholastique Mukasonga is a juror for the Prix Fémina.
- His novel “Kibogo ascended to heaven“ (published in 2020 in the Blanche collection at Gallimard then in April 2022 in Folio) has been translated into English and selected in the 2022 National Book Awards Longlist for Translated Literature.
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