Hanna Jansen

I will walk with you over a thousand hills
eine erschütternde Kindheit in Afrika

Hanna Jansen
Stuttgart: Thienemann, 2002
365 S.
ISBN 978-3-522-17476-3
Paperback edition: Knaur, 2003
English translation:
I will walk with you over a thousand hills
(Andersen Press, 2007)
French translation:
J'irai avec toi par mille collines
(Hachette livre, 2004)

This is a true story. It is based on the memoirs of Jeanne d'Arc Umubyeyi who as the only member of her family escaped the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and now lives in Germany as the adopted daughter of Hanna Jansen. The book, in which the author has recorded Jeanne's story is the result of long conversations in which Jeanne tried to overcome the terrible experiences.

Jeanne grows up in a carefree manner with her brother Jando and her sister Teja in a family of teachers in Rwanda, the country of a thousand hills. When the killings begin, sudden and abrupt from the children's point of view, she is eight years old. Fanatic Hutus call upon a war of destruction against the Tutsis. Jeanne's family, who are Tutsis also flee to a gymnasium but are not safe from the killings there in which even their own neighbours are involved in. Hutus invade the gym and Jeanne is forced to experience how her mother is brutally beaten to death. Her sister is burnt to death with many others who were crammed into a house. Together with her father and brother she hides in a banana field during the night. The father leaves to ask the mayor for help but never returns. Jeanne is forced to watch how Hutu murderers cut her brother into pieces with machetes. Jeanne only survives because a Hutu neighbour who was married to a Tutsi passes her off as her own daughter and takes her along to her parents' farm.

When the Tutsi rebels end their killing spree Jeanne is picked up by the military. She tries to find survivors of her family. Together with a friend she eventually flies to Germany.

Hanna Jansen:
Über tausend Hügel wandere ich mit dir:
eine erschütternde Kindheit in Afrika
(I will walk with you over a thousand hills)

Genocide as the theme of a novel for young readers? In view of the cruelty of the events portrayed in "I will walk with you over a thousand hills" one asks oneself how much real violence one can expect young people (the publisher's age recommendation is 13) to deal with?More ...