Clemantine Wamariya biography

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Clemantine Wamariya
photo: Julie Zave

Clemantine Wamariya

How to pronounce Clemantine Wamariya: as it looks: wha-mar-ee-ah

Clemantine Wamariya Biography

Clemantine Wamariya is a storyteller, public speaker, social entrepreneur, and human rights advocate. Born in Kigali, Rwanda, displaced by conflict, Clemantine migrated throughout seven African countries as a child. At age twelve, she was granted asylum in the United States and went on to receive a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University. Clemantine now uses stories drawn from her experiences to catalyze change and create community. She lives in San Francisco.

Elizabeth Weil is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two daughters.



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Interview

Storyteller and human rights advocate Clemantine Wamariya talks about her life as a child refugee, and her biography The Girl Who Smiled Beads.

Clemantine Wamariya: The Author of Her Own Life

Clemantine Wamariya is a storyteller and human rights advocate. Born in Kigali, Rwanda, and displaced by conflict, Wamariya migrated throughout seven African countries as a child. At age 12, she was granted refugee status in the United States and went on to receive a BA in Comparative Literature from Yale University. She lives in San Francisco. The Girl Who Smiled Beads chronicles her amazing life story and is her first book.

The title of your book comes from a story your nanny told you as a young girl. Why, of all the stories she told you, do you think that particular one stayed so clear in your mind through the years?

That story was magic! When my nanny, Mukamana, told me about the girl who smiled beads, she did not just lay out the plot. She invited me to shape the tale. She set out this character, this miraculous, beautiful girl who smiled beads. Then she set that girl in the world--first in her mother's house, then walking the earth--and each step of the way Mukamana asked, "And what do you think happened next?" Whatever I said, Mukamana told me I was right. The story allowed me to believe I controlled my own destiny. It allowed to me to try and make sense of a...

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Books by this Author

Books by Clemantine Wamariya at BookBrowse
The Girl Who Smiled Beads jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Clemantine Wamariya but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Uwem Akpan

    Uwem Akpan

    Uwem Akpan was born in Ikot Akpan Eda in southern Nigeria. After studying philosophy and English at Creighton and Gonzaga universities, he studied theology for three years at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. He was ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads

    Try:
    Say You're One of Them
    by Uwem Akpan

  • Naomi Benaron

    Naomi Benaron

    Naomi Benaron is a fiction writer, a poet, and a social activist - all entwined. She has worked extensively with the African refugee population in her community, teaches online through the Afghan Women's Writing Project, has ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads

    Try:
    Running the Rift
    by Naomi Benaron

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Book Discussion
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