Writer, Storyteller and Human Rights Activist Clemantine Wamariya on Why She Loves Being Human

Welcome back to Episode Two, Season 3 of The Call!

Today’s episode features storyteller, writer and all-around incredible human Clemantine Wamariya. A survivor of the Rwandan genocide, Clemantine escaped the violence with her sister and landed in Chicago. After winning an essay contest, Clemantine was reunited with her family on the Oprah Show in 2006.

She’s been an in-demand voice ever since, giving TED talks and lectures around the world, encouraging people to look beyond basic narratives. “It’s so important for us to think about stories that are nurturing, not only our bodies, and our minds, and our spirit, but also each other,” she tells host Erica Williams Simon. “and so, I’ve always loved stories, and I just happen to have a really wild story that people are able to capitalize on.”

She and Erica chat about how she wrote and pitched her new book, “The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After,” and how it is deeply rooted in the storytelling traditions of her heritage.

“The whole idea of Afrocentrism is, it’s a full circle. It goes on and on and on and on, right? And everybody can add on. Where in the linear, it’s like, well, I’m the author. I start, and I end. But that’s not true. You know, even with my book, there’s so many people who added on. And I allowed them to add on, because I believe in adding on. And everyone is a dot connecting to another dot, connecting to another dot, and you’re making a full circle.”

Not going to lie, this episode had me EMOTIONAL. Clemantine is just such a beautiful mind and Erica asks her the kind of smart questions that make the conversation run deep. But it’s no surprise Clemantine is such an amazing guest and writer, since stories are what she loves and what she does:

“Since I was a child, I love stories. I love to hear them, I love to tell them, I love to dance them, I love to cook them, you know? I really, just, I love being human! Sounds silly, but I really love being alive! And once you’ve gone through the things that I have lived through, you value life a little bit more. And for me, my value in life is to share.”

Trust me, you’re going to want to give this a listen. Meet me in the comments if you need a little debrief and don’t watch that (classic Oprah) Oprah video in public.

Illustration by Anne Bentley

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor

Nora Taylor is the Editor of Clever. She can frequently be found knocking things over in the greater New York City area.

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