Civil blood, unclean hands

Posted on February 24, 2013


barankitse margueriteA mother’s behind sins when it sits down – Burundi Proverb

I really don’t have much to say about Judith Debetencourt Hoskins’s Hummingbird Why Am I Here?  Other than you will cry at least once on each of  its 150 pages.  The book is a loose rendering of individual interviews about the extraordinary work of Maggy Barankitse.  The writing style is simple, raw, amateur almost, and yet somehow this heightens the book’s impact rather than detracting from it. In a more polished narrative, there may have been a danger of feeling emotionally manipulated as one sometimes does by an over-slick charity appeal.

Maggy is an internationally recognized humanitarian whose list of awards covers 4 pages of the book. In October 1993 she was forced (stripped and tied to a chair) to watch the massacre of seventy-two of her friends.  She saved twenty-five of their children and over the next 20 years has helped at least 20,000 of Burundi’s orphans rebuild their lives. She has raised funds to build houses, a hospital, a cinema, training programmes, and above all has taught the message of peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation between Hutu and Tutsi.   It is impossible to over-state her achievements.

If you want to learn more about Maggy and her work, visit