Readers who were moved and horrified by Hotel Rwanda will respond even more intensely to Paul Rusesabagina’s unforgettable autobiography. As Rwanda was thrown into chaos during the 1994 genocide, Ruesasbagina, a hotel manager, turned the luxurious Hotel Milles Collines into a refuge for more than 1,200 Tutsi and moderate Hutu refugees, while fending off their would-be killers with a combination of diplomacy and deception.
In An Ordinary Man, he tells the story of his childhood, retraces his accidental path to heroism, revisits the 100 days in which he was the only thing standing between his “guests” and a hideous death, and recounts his subsequent life as a refugee and activist.
In the early morning of April 23 I went to bed at
around 4:00 A.M. I had spent several hours on the phone in the office,
getting nowhere, as usual. I quietly unlocked the door of the suite so
as not to wake up the other occupants, and fell into the spot that
Tatiana had saved for me on the bed. I knew nothing but blackness for
two hours and then I felt my wife pushing me. "There is someone on the
phone that wants you:' she said. You could still make phone calls at
that point, and it was the reception desk asking for me.
A man whom I'll call Lieutenant Mageza came on the line. I knew him, but his voice sounded like cold marble. ''Are you the manager?" he asked.
I was still fighting my way out of a deep sleep and my answer was thick.
"Yes. What is it?"
"I have an order from the Ministry of Defense for you to evacuate the hotel within thirty minutes," he said.
That woke me up.
"You want me to evacuate the hotel?"
"If you do not I will do it for you."
"What do you want me to tell the guests? Where are they going to go? Who is taking them? What security has been organized?"