President Paul Kagame yesterday led national celebrations to mark the 23rd Heroes’ Day, where he lay a wreath at the Heroes Mausoleum in Remera, Kigali.
This year’s Heroes’ Day, which was marked at the village level, was held under the theme, “Heroism is making Choices that Fit Us.”
In paying tribute to the national heroes, President Kagame was accompanied by senior government, officials, the dean of diplomatic corps accredited to Rwanda, senior military and police officers.
VIDEO: Rwandans mark 2017 Heroes' Day. Source: YouTube/TheNewTimes
Dr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, the chairperson of the Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honour (Cheno), said the day serves to remind Rwandans that heroism is not for the dead but for the living as well.
He called upon the young and old to cultivate the spirit of heroism in service to the nation for the development of the country.
“We have always had heroes in Rwanda. It is from the sacrifices of those heroes that we continue to build the spirit of heroism and pass it on to future generations. We must continue following the path of the gallant men and women of our nation,” Habumuremyi said.
Rwanda’s heroes are classified into three categories; Imanzi, Imena and Ingenzi.
The Imanzi category, the highest order, features people who made utmost achievements at the expense of everything else, including their own lives.
They include Maj Gen Fred Rwigema, who died on the frontline the day after the launch of the Liberation War, and the ‘Unknown Soldier,’ which represents all soldiers who lost their lives fighting for Rwanda.
The Imena category comprises of people whose track record has proven their deeds as extraordinary acts of sacrifice for the country.
They include King Mutara III Rudahigwa, Michel Rwagasana (special adviser to late King Rudahigwa), Agathe Uwilingiyimana (former prime minister), Félicité Niyitegeka, a Catholic nun who was working at a parish in Rubavu, and Nyange Secondary School students.
The last category, Ingenzi, comprises heroes who are still alive, a list that is yet to be published.
“It is by and from these heroes that we have a Rwanda that we are proud to call home. We, therefore, must honour the sacrifices of our heroes and continue to work together towards a prosperous and dignified Rwanda,” Habumuremyi added.
While shedding more light on the theme, Habumuremyi emphasised that Rwanda’s quest for making the right decisions and choices in the interest of the Rwanda people, had gained momentum and that the spirit is more resilient than ever.
“We (Rwandans) must continue making suitable choices that are relevant to our culture and values; choices that befit us as opposed to those that might be imposed on us.
“As we enter a significant season of presidential elections, this requires us to make suitable decisions that befits our vision and the direction the nation is taking. Those are some of the important choices we need to keep in mind as we move forward together,” Habumuremyi said.
The family members of the heroes, whose remains lay at the Heroes Mausoleum, also laid wreaths at the cemetery to pay homage to their loved ones.
Habumuremyi noted that there is an ongoing search for even more outstanding individuals who would be decorated for heroic acts of service. At the village levels, across the country.
The celebration event included a football game between two military teams and another between rivals Rayon Sports and APR football clubs that the latter won.