Patriotism is a devotion to one’s country and is a closely related sentiment to nationalism. Culture involves the behaviours, beliefs and characteristics of a particular social, ethnic or age group. It’s also the inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge, that are shared based on a social action.
I remember my early years in school when we assembled and had to sing the national anthem before praying and listening to speeches. We were always told to stand-up when singing the national anthem and I didn’t understand why we always had to follow the same protocol daily.
Today, I realise that the culture of patriotism was being instilled in us.
Last week, I heard some students speaking Kinyarwanda in unbearable intonation as if it was a different language. When I tried to correct them they said, ‘sorry we are not from here so try to understand us.’ I then asked them which countries they were from, and they told me they were Rwandans studying in the Diaspora. I continued to ask them whether they were born in those countries, each one of them told me they left Rwanda after high school to go to college abroad.
They comfortably told me what they were pursing and how they had returned for the summer holiday.
After listening to them reminiscing about the countries they studied in, I asked them if they do the same when they are given the opportunity to talk about Rwanda to other students in the Diaspora. I was impressed when they told me Rwanda would always be their home.
The special affection for one’s own country begins with a sense of personal identification with their country, their special concern for the well-being of the country as well as the willingness to sacrifice and promote the country’s good.
Culture always influences the flow of patriotism in any given setting or country. Therefore, we need to understand that no one else will love and uplift Rwanda, other than those who love and identify with it.