Gov. Pat Quinn, who has been close friends with Paul Rusesabagina since meeting him three years ago, invited him to speak at the breakfast.
Paul Rusesabagina is far removed from the 1994 genocide in the Republic of Rwanda, where hundreds of thousands of people were killed.
The country, located in the Great Lakes region of central Africa, was the site of mass violence at the hands of the Hutu-elite government and the Interhamwe militias. While managing the Sabena Hotel des Mille Collines, Rusesabagina let 1,268 Hutus and Tutsis take shelter there for 76 days.
"They were terrified because of what was going on outside," he said in a telephone interview last week. "As a manager, I cared for them from the beginning to the end."
Rusesabagina's efforts inspired the 2004 movie "Hotel Rwanda," starring Don Cheadle. After the movie was released, Rusesabagina began speaking out against the conflicts in Rwanda and the Congo.
He will bring his message to the 2010 Governor's Prayer Breakfast, set for 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 12 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who has been close friends with Rusesabagina since meeting him three years ago, invited him to speak at the breakfast.
Rusesabagina said he hopes to "raise awareness for equal rights and equal justice" throughout Rwanda and other areas being oppressed by government officials.
"This is all about democracy," he said of the speech. "We need teachers who believe that."
Rusesabagina said he will talk about how freedom of speech is disappearing in Rwanda, after two weekly newspapers were recently closed for six months. The suspensions will prevent the Umuseso and Umuvugizi newspapers from covering the presidential election in August.
Rusesabagina said he would also discuss the ongoing war in the Congo, which started in 1996. About 45,000 people are killed in the conflict every month, and about 7 million people have died since the war began.
Despite these numbers, Rusesabagina said most people are still unaware about the war and its impact on the region.
He said the country finances the war mainly from the mineral coltan, which is widely used in cell phones, computers and video games.
After speaking about the conflict in the Congo, Rusesabagina said countries like Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands cut off direct aid to Rwanda in an effort to curb the violence there.
"This is a very positive sign that the world is watching (and) that the world feels concerned," Rusesabagina said.
In addition to speeches, he created the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation in 2005 to raise awareness and provide assistance for orphans of Africa's civil war. Around $200,000 has been contributed to the foundation.
Rusesabagina has received numerous honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award.
John Guidroz can be reached at 217-782-6882 or John.email@example.com.
What: 48th annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast
Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel; 3000 South Dirksen Pkwy.
When: Wednesday, May 12; 7:30 a.m.
Tickets are $20 per seat or $200 per table, and the registration deadline is Wednesday, May 5.
For more information, call Paula Luebbert or Sharon Caldwell at Lincoln Land Community College at 782-7436.
For more on the Hotel Rwanda foundation, visit www.hrrfoundation.org.