I did not choose to leave Rwanda. I left because they drove me
When you arrive as an immigrant, you are alone, alone, alone ...
Remarks recorded during an interview.
Born in Rwanda, Radegonde Ndejuru lived there until the age of 21. The
country's gaining its independence, the end of Belgian colonial power and the
taking of political power by the majority Hutu were accompanied by violent
political and social turbulence. "The history of Rwanda is strewn
wars, people fleeing, tragedies and injustices." In 1963, when she
was 11, her father was murdered during one of the waves of violence that shook
the country. Ten years later, Radegonde herself was forced into exile. In 1973,
she arrived in Canada alone, her family scattered throughout Europe and her
mother remaining in Rwanda.
She worked in Montreal as a nurse, but she missed Africa. She received her
Canadian citizenship in 1978, and immediately left to work in Guinea-Bissau and
then in Côte d'Ivoire, as a volunteer with the Quebec non-governmental
organizations SUCO (Solidarité Union Coopération) and
CECI (Centre canadien d'étude et coopération
internationale). "There is the contact with the people, which is
fantastic. I didn't have the impression of working, but of living and learning
the whole time. This is what made these experiences unforgettable."
These different stays on the continent reinforced her African identity.
"I was just getting my African identity, more African than
Rwandan," she says.
In 1988, as soon as she returned to Quebec, she took part with other women
of African origin in creating the organization Solidarité Femmes
Africaines, which has as its goal to improve the life conditions of women
immigrants from Africa, to give another image of African women and to ease
their integration into the host society, all the while promoting their African
Through these life experiences and successive migrations, Radegonde has been
able to combine fidelity to her culture of origin and roots with adherence to
the positive aspects of her host society: on the one hand, the solidarity and
strength of the group and the community, so important in traditional African
society, and on the other, the individual freedom that is at the heart of
interpersonal relationships in Western countries. It is this synthesis of
African and Canadian influences that she has tried to instil in her children,
and it is these values that have allowed her to orient her life according to
her own vision, without being a prisoner of the social constraints that are so
strong in African society, but preserving the solidarity and mutual aid of the
group as the engine of change and social progress.