Gilbert Tuhabonye

Gilbert Tuhabonye

Burundian runner and genocide survivor

Gilbert Tuhabonye is a Burundian long-distance runner, author, motivational speaker, and survivor of Burundi’s 1993 genocide. Tuhabonye, a member of Burundi’s Tutsi minority, began running competitively and training for the Olympics while attending school. In October 1993, in a wave of bloody inter-communal violence sparked by the assassination of the democratically elected President Melchior Ndadaye, the country’s first president from the majority Hutu community, Tuhabonye’s high school was attacked. He and more than 100 Tutsi children and teachers were forced into a room, beaten, and burned alive. After nearly nine hours buried beneath the burning corpses of his classmates and suffering burns over much of his body, Tuhabonye used the charred bone of a classmate to break a window to escape and run to safety. Despite extensive burns and scarring, Tuhabonye obtained a track scholarship at Abilene Christian University in 1996 and became a national champion runner and NCAA All-American. He is the award-winning coach of Gilbert’s Gazelles Training Group in Texas. In 2006, he cofounded the Gazelle Foundation, a non-profit organization that builds clean water systems to improve the lives of people in Burundi, regardless of their community. He is the author of “This Voice in My Heart: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Escape, Faith, and Forgiveness.”

Gilbert's Talks

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