Texas Tech University

Gilbert Tuhabonye, Genocide Survivor

Addresses High School Students in ICC Auditorium on May 18

Gilbert Tuhabonye, author of This Voice in My Heart: A Genocide Survivor's Story of Escape, Faith, and Forgiveness, spoke before high school students from Lubbock and Slaton on May 18, 2016. Students from Estacado High School, Monterrey High School, Slaton High School, and the Talkington School for Young Women Leaders, filled the ICC Auditorium to hear Tuhabonye recall the horrific massacre in the long Tutsi-Hutu war of Burundi during which he, as a high school student in 1993, endured unbearable torture, witnessed mass murder, and barely escaped his own fiery death. The only Tutsi to survive the massacre that day, he ran from that horror into a new life—a life of hope, joy, and forgiveness.

Gilbert Tuhabonye

The audience listened transfixed as Tuhabonye described going to Kibimba high school on October 21, 1993, expecting to take three difficult final exams, only to find that his Hutu classmates, their parents, some teachers, and the headmaster had planned an ambush of almost indescribable cruelty. Forcing the Tutsi children and teachers into a room and brutally clubbing them on the backs of their necks as they entered, they were beaten savagely then doused with gasoline and set on fire. After eight hours of being buried beneath the corpses of his friends, Tuhabonye managed to break out a window and escape into the night, running on charred feet with third degree burns across his body.

By 1996, his running skills took him to the United States as part of an Olympic training program. He obtained a track scholarship at Abilene Christian University and was a national champion runner. Tuhabonye is the award-winning coach of Gilbert's Gazelles Training Group in Texas. In 2006, he cofounded the Gazelle Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to improve life for people in Burundi without regard to tribal affiliations.

Sponsors: K-12 GEO, Office of International Affairs, The CH Foundation.