Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse wins Prix France Televisions 2024

Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse wins Prix France Televisions 2024

Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse’s memoir Le Convoi won at the Prix France Televisions 2024 in Paris, France on Wednesday, May 29, 2024,

Prix France Televisions is an annual literary award rewarding authors of works published in French in recent literary news in both fiction and nonfiction since 1995. Previous winners have included Nathacha Appanah, Ali Zamir, Wassyla Tamzali, and Yasmina Khadra.

The winners for 2024 were selected by a jury of 22 readers from the four corners of France, following debates moderated by Augustin Trapenard, president of the France Télévisions literary prizes. In nonfiction, Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse’s memoir Le Convoi (Flammarion) was declared the winner.

Speaking on the win the jury said, “It took fifteen years of uncertain progress, an investigation carried out on the confines of faded memories, to find an image on which I hoped to appear, then to look for my companions in flight. Fifteen years to finally allow myself to write this story. Mine and through it, because it is indeed a question of reinscribing myself in a collective, ours, the history of the children of the convoys.”

Le Convoi follows the writer Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse, then a teenager, who had her life saved thanks to a Swiss humanitarian convoy in 1993. Thirteen years after her evacuation, she contacted the BBC team who filmed and photographed this convoy. This begins a fierce investigation (between Rwanda, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Italy, and South Africa) to reconstruct the events with witnesses still alive: survivors, humanitarians, and journalists. The Tutsi genocide, like other African historical facts, was mainly told to the world through Western images and interpretations, sometimes making the victims extras in their own story. Nourished by reflections on the act of bearing witness and the value of traces, between archival research and self-writing, Le Convoi is a sober and moving book: it offers an essential contribution to the reappropriation and transmission of this collective memory.

Mairesse said on her win, “I think, inevitably, of the television journalists who happened to be protagonists of my initial scene on June 18, 1994, Hamilton Wende, Fergal Keane, and their colleagues.

The BBC probably threw away the footage I was on. But Pierre, a wonderful friend, after reading my book, found them for me just a few weeks ago, in the archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda where I had searched in vain.

The investigation continues.

I am thinking of my friend Alessandro, a former colleague from Médecins sans frontières Switzerland, who wrote to me yesterday, just before I heard the good news of the prize, to tell me that he had found near Turin another of the protagonists of this scene and of which I had discovered on the rushes that he had also taken photos.

The investigation continues.

It is moving forward thanks to those who understood its importance for us, the children of the convoys.

Many thanks to the members of the #prixfrancetelevision jury and to its president @atrapenard”

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