Reviews for Those we throw away are diamonds : a refugee's search for home

Book list
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The facts of Dogon’s life are stark and painful. As a young Bagogwe child, a Tutsi living in eastern Congo, he was swept up into the spiraling conflict that spilled out of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. When his family ran for their lives to escape the murderous Interahamwe militia, his baby sister died of starvation. They eventually made it to the Gihembe camp in Rwanda, where they lived for the next two decades. Attempts to return home led to Dogon being abandoned, imprisoned, and forced to serve as a child soldier. His survival, he notes more than once, is a miracle, but his story alone is not what makes this account so shockingly powerful. In describing the most tragic and terrifying of circumstances, Dogon, working with coauthor Krajeski, creates sentences to describe the most tragic and terrifying of circumstances that are, without exception, elegant, arresting, and possessing a beauty that only a gifted truth-teller can attain. “As soon as the violence came to our village,” Dogon writes, “the stories of my childhood faded.” In their place is this radiant testimony to the losses suffered by all refugees, an arresting demand that we recognize the humanity of people the world over who have no choice but to leave their homes forever.


Library Journal
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Human rights activist Dogon has written a searing account of the horrific violence his family endured in their native Congo, and then of living as refugees in Rwanda. Even in the first refugee camp they reached after fleeing the genocide of Tutsis in their ancestral homeland, they were not safe. As a young child, Dogon saw his uncle beheaded with a machete; he later witnessed the murder of his grandmother and the rape and murder of his aunt. After spending years in UN tent camps, he and his father and brother returned to Democratic Republic of Congo and encountered endless violence; at one point, Congolese rebels forced Dogon to be a child soldier. Miraculously, the family was able to return to Rwanda. Dogon saw then that his only escape from refugee camps would be through education; he became an outstanding student, which led to a sponsor paying for him to get a master's degree in international education at New York University. Throughout this memoir, Dogon shares stories about his family and their efforts to find safety. His plea is that the world does not forget the many refugees still living in stateless purgatory. VERDICT Those interested in international relations, immigration, and social work will find Dogon's firsthand account essential reading.—Caren Nichter, Univ. of Tennessee at Martin


Publishers Weekly
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A human rights activist remembers a childhood besieged by violence in Congo and Rwanda in this searing debut memoir. Dogon was born in North Kivu, a region of Congo on the border with Rwanda that was populated by ethnic Hutus and Tutsis; after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when he was three years old, Hutu attacks drove his Tutsi family from their village. Fleeing to Rwanda, they survived massacres inflicted by Hutu militias on Tutsi refugee camps. Dogon later returned to Congo with his father, but at the age of 11 he was imprisoned and witnessed the rapes and murders of inmates by Congolese soldiers. He eventually escaped to join pro-Tutsi rebels before returning to Rwanda, where he got an education, but still experienced poverty, hunger, and the despair of being a stateless outcast in a society that reviled refugees. There is shocking suffering here, and Dogon conveys its psychological impact with limpid, subdued prose. (“I turned my little sister’s head from side to side,” he recalls of his sister’s death from starvation. “It moved without resistance... like a toy.... I felt as though I was no longer human.”) The result is an immensely moving memorial to the Rwandan tragedy. Agent: Binky Urban, ICM. (Oct.)


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"Those we throw away are diamonds," proclaims a poem written by human rights activist and refugee ambassador Dogan, a Bagogwe Tutsi born in Congo whose family was forced to flee Hutu threats of murder, escaping to Rwanda and settling in a UN tent city where the violence continued. Dogon managed to push himself through school and eventually entered the University of Rwanda with the highest national examination grades in his county; in 2019, he received a master's degree in international education from the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. His aim? To help refugees everywhere get the education they want.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

In a beautifully heartfelt, plainspoken account, a refugee from the Congo-Rwanda wars breaks his silence to reveal his family’s story of fleeing their home amid unimaginable violence. Dogon, who has a graduate degree from NYU, spent 20 years in refugee camps in Rwanda. Born into a cattle-farming Tutsi family in the Bagogwe tribe, by age 3 his idyllic world was shattered when the genocide in neighboring Rwanda spilled over into his country. The family was forced to flee because of killers tracking Dogon’s father, a village leader. “My father appeared at our door, bleeding, and from that moment on, every story was about killing,” writes the author. “I stopped being a child….I stopped having a home. I became a refugee.” The Bagogwe were almost entirely displaced, the survivors shunted from one refugee camp to another, suffering gruesome, random bloodshed and squalid living conditions. By 1996, the family had consolidated in a camp in northern Rwanda, subsisting on fitful international charity and fending off hunger and despair: “Being a refugee meant having to reconcile your gratitude to Rwanda and the [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], with an increasing feeling of being isolated and forgotten.” With the assistance of journalist Krajeski, Dogon movingly, tragically describes the trauma he and his family endured. The pain was so deep that even among them, they could not talk about what they had witnessed, which led to a terrible, debilitating silence. As a hardworking student, he passed his national exam, and though denied a promised scholarship because of his refugee status, he was able to attend university in the capital. Ultimately, he got sponsorship from tech executive Tim Armstrong, the former CEO of AOL, and Armstrong paid for his education. Now, Dogon is able to advocate for the plight of all who suffer the terrors of civil war. Throughout, he delivers effectively vivid details of his life and culture, and it’s clear that he is dedicated to helping others in similar terrible circumstances. An eloquent and necessary plea for compassion for war refugees everywhere. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

In a beautifully heartfelt, plainspoken account, a refugee from the Congo-Rwanda wars breaks his silence to reveal his familys story of fleeing their home amid unimaginable violence. Dogon, who has a graduate degree from NYU, spent 20 years in refugee camps in Rwanda. Born into a cattle-farming Tutsi family in the Bagogwe tribe, by age 3 his idyllic world was shattered when the genocide in neighboring Rwanda spilled over into his country. The family was forced to flee because of killers tracking Dogons father, a village leader. My father appeared at our door, bleeding, and from that moment on, every story was about killing, writes the author. I stopped being a child.I stopped having a home. I became a refugee. The Bagogwe were almost entirely displaced, the survivors shunted from one refugee camp to another, suffering gruesome, random bloodshed and squalid living conditions. By 1996, the family had consolidated in a camp in northern Rwanda, subsisting on fitful international charity and fending off hunger and despair: Being a refugee meant having to reconcile your gratitude to Rwanda and the [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], with an increasing feeling of being isolated and forgotten. With the assistance of journalist Krajeski, Dogon movingly, tragically describes the trauma he and his family endured. The pain was so deep that even among them, they could not talk about what they had witnessed, which led to a terrible, debilitating silence. As a hardworking student, he passed his national exam, and though denied a promised scholarship because of his refugee status, he was able to attend university in the capital. Ultimately, he got sponsorship from tech executive Tim Armstrong, the former CEO of AOL, and Armstrong paid for his education. Now, Dogon is able to advocate for the plight of all who suffer the terrors of civil war. Throughout, he delivers effectively vivid details of his life and culture, and its clear that he is dedicated to helping others in similar terrible circumstances.An eloquent and necessary plea for compassion for war refugees everywhere. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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