Man Who Inspired Oscar-Nominated Film To Speak In Tahlequah

The man responsible for saving over 1,000 lives during the Rwandan genocide will be speaking at Northeastern State University Tuesday evening.

His lecture will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday on campus. After his lecture, he will be signing his autobiography, An Ordinary Man. The event is free and open to the public. It is part of the Larry Adair Lectureship.

Paul Rusesabagina was portrayed by Don Cheadle in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda. He managed a hotel in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, and used his leverage and contacts to shelter 1,268 Tutsi refugees during the genocide of the Tutsi tribe from the Hutus in April of 1994.

Rusesabagina says the movie's release provided opportunities to tell the world about what was happening. "I think that America, for so many years, has been kind of isolated, and Africa seems to be too far from America," Rusesabagina says, "So I want Americans to know what is happening to the other side of the world."

Rusesabagina and his dad were Hutus and his mother and wife were Tutsis.

He's been called "Africa's Oskar Schindler" for his efforts to save so many lives.

He has not lived in Rwanda since he and his family escaped in 1996.

Rusesabagina is the president of the Rusesabagina Foundation, which works to prevent future conflict by promoting reconciliation. The foundation is trying to organize a talk among Africa's Great Lakes region. "The best way to solve a conflict is rather to talk than to kill," Rusesabagina says.

NSU leaders sponsor the lectures to spread the word about world issues. "NSU's mission is to empower individuals to become socially-responsible global citizens," said Peggy Glenn, executive director of the NSU Foundation, which is sponsoring the event. "Most of our students do not have the means to travel to another country or continent, so we're bringing an international figure to Tahlequah to share his experiences and why we need to be aware of things that go on halfway around the world."

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