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Ticket To…Rwanda

Ticket To...Explore the World with the Alignist Book Club

Originally Aired: Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok/Pexels


Get a taste of a faraway place right here in our intimate studio space. Using a novel as a launching pad, Ticket To explores a nation through its history, cuisine and culture.

This month, we travel to Rwanda through the eyes of Scholastique Mukasonga’s Our Lady of the Nile with host Beenish Ahmed, founder of The Alignist book club and subscription service. Twenty five years after one of the most devastating genocides in history, the novel sends us to an all girls boarding school in Rwanda and initiates a conversation about the racial tensions and post-colonial political landscape that turned neighbor against neighbor, schoolchild against schoolchild.

Comedian Sonia Denis (High Maintenance) will share a story of growing up with a Rwandan immigrant mother. Plus, Beenish will lead a conversation with Simone Monasebian (The UN’s NY Office on Drugs and Crime) and Elisabeth King (Associate Professor, Politics and Education at NYU) and human rights activist Jacqueline Murekatete.

Additionally, actress Nisarah Lewis will be performing a short scene from the play Miracle in Rwanda. The play’s producer Allen DeWane will join her in a post-performance discussion.

Samples of Rwandan coffee and treats will also be served.

Reading the assigned novel in advance of the event is highly recommended, but not at all required to enjoy the show.

A box is available from The Alignist with novel, related information, Rwandan fair trade items and recipes here. Use offer code GREENE15 for 15% off until the event.

Learn more about The Alignist and how to subscribe here.

Sonia Denis is a New York-based comedian. She was recently named one of Vulture’s Comics to Watch and was featured on The New Negroes on Comedy Central. Sonia co-starred in the Emmy nominated web series Brown Girls and has appeared on HBO’s High Maintenance and in the Netflix movie Set It Up. Her writing has been featured in The New Yorker and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

Simone Monasebian, Esq. is a relentless advocate for survivors of human trafficking and atrocity crimes.  She currently heads the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (“UNODC”) New York Office.  Since 2005, she has led UNODC’s instrumental contribution at UN headquarters to prevent and combat human trafficking, working closely with the General Assembly and Security Council. She is credited with being the Secretariat’s architect behind the processes resulting in the establishment of the landmark United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons as well as its UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children.  She was the driving force behind the decision to appoint a survivor of human trafficking, Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad, as the first UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.  Prior to joining UNODC, she served as the first  Principal Defender at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and before that as a  Trial Attorney with the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Office of the Prosecutor, where she prosecuted war criminals in complex, multi-defendant cases. Ms. Monasebian’s work was prominently profiled in the book: “Justice on The Grass: Three Rwandan Journalists, Their Trial for War Crimes and a Nation’s Quest for Redemption” by Dina Temple-Raston (2005), and in the 2018 Sundance Award winning (best director) documentary feature “On Her Shoulders” about Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad.

Elisabeth King is Associate Professor of International Education and Politics at New York University and Founding Director of NYU’s minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. Her research focuses on war, peace, development, and education in ethnically diverse and conflict-affected contexts. She is author of Diversity, Violence and Recognition: How Recognizing Ethnic Identity Promotes Peace (with Cyrus Samii) forthcoming in 2020 from Oxford University Press. Her previous book, From Classrooms to Conflict in Rwanda (Cambridge University Press 2014), was named an Outstanding Academic Title by the American Libraries Association.

Jacqueline Murekatete is an internationally recognized genocide survivor and human rights activist. Born in Rwanda, Jacqueline was nine years old when she lost her parents, all six siblings and most of her extended family to the 1994 genocide. Jacqueline’s work and story has been featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NPR, CNN, PBS, NBC, ABC, MTV, and other media outlets worldwide. Jacqueline is the founder and president of Genocide Survivors Foundation (GSF), a New York based not-for-profit organization, which educates people about the crime of genocide and other forms of mass atrocity crimes and raises funds to support survivors in the areas of education, economic empowerment and social services.

Nisarah Lewis is a gradute of Fordham University and has studied at SUNY Purchase Acting Conservatory, Berkeley Repertory’s School of Theater, and Fordham’s London Dramatic Academy. She has appeared in productions of Sweeney Todd, The Wiz, and Hair.

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