PHOTOS & VIDEO: Rwandans honour National Heroes


President Kagame lays a wreath to honour heroes at the National Heroes' Mausoleum yesterday. / Village Urugwiro

Rwandans yesterday marked Heroes’ Day, with celebrations organized at the grassroots across the country, held under the theme; “Upholding Heroism to Build the Rwanda We Want”.

While the day was marked at the village level – the smallest administrative unit –, in the capital Kigali, President Paul Kagame led senior government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and families of the country’s celebrated heroes in laying wreaths on their graves at the National Heroes’ Mausoleum in Remera.

The Family of Late Gisa Fred Rwigema (Hero), lay a wreath of flowers at Heroes’ Mausoleum next to Amahoro National Stadium in Remera.

In different communities across the country, Rwandans gathered to remind each other of the need to uphold heroic acts and values in order to continue building the country Rwandans deserve.

Kenyan High Commissioner and Deputy Representative of the Diplomatic Corps and International Organizations to Rwanda John Mwangemi laid the wreath on behalf of members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Rwanda.

Deo Nkusi, the Executive Secretary of the Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honour (CHENO), said that the day remains important for Rwandans, especially the youth.

“We need to empower the youth so that they can pick up where Rwanda’s heroes left off and continue to build their country,” he said yesterday.

President Kagame is joined by senior government officials in paying homage to the heroes laid to rest at the National Heroes’ Mausoleum in Remera.

The Chancellery’s chairperson, Dr Pierre-Damien Habumuremyi, agreed, saying in an interview that Heroes’ Day is an opportunity to highlight examples that Rwandans should emulate.

“What is important about Heroes’ Day is to highlight good examples given by our heroes so that all Rwandans can learn from them,” he said.

Marie-Christine Umuhoza, the daughter of the late Agathe Uwilingiyimana, said that she had to come all the way from Switzerland where she lives to honour her late mother who is a hero in Rwanda.

Marie-Christine Umuhoza (second right) a daughter of former Prime Minister Agatha Uwilingiyimana is joined by other family members to lay a wreath on her mother’s grave. / Timothy Kisambira
A plaque on the grave of Late Maj Gen Fred Gisa Rwigema, one of the two heroes in the Imanzi category. Heroes in this category are reputed for their extraordinary acts for the country marked by sacrifice, high importance and example.

“Love for people of all walks of life is the legacy we inherited from our parents. It should be an example for all Rwandans so the country can continue to make progress,” she said.

Adria Umurangamirwa, 82, said that forgetting the late Félicité Niyitegeka (a hero in the category of ‘Imena’), would be like forgetting God because Niyitegeka worked tirelessly to help humanity.

“Remembering her today is a good lesson and forgetting her is like forgetting God because she was very helpful to anyone in need. She wouldn’t go to bed before helping a patient in need or an old person who needed her care,” Umurangamirwa said about Niyitegeka who was her friend.

The Minister for Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu, said that as the government starts its 7 year term, celebrating Heroes’ Day remains an opportunity to look further ahead and encourage the youth to build on what has already been achieved.

The family of Niyitegeka Felicite lay a wreath of flowers in her memory during the Heroes day celebrations. / Timothy Kisambira
Rwanda Defense Force soldiers salute to the National Anthem at Heroes’ Mausoleum next to Amahoro National Stadium in Remera- Gasabo district. / Timothy Kisambira
Rwanda Defense force Brass Band perform at the National Heroes’ Mausoleum next to Amahoro National Stadium in Remera- Gasabo district. / Timothy Kisambira
Rose-Marie Uwimbabazi, the daughter of Michel Rwagasana, is joined by her husband Valens Munyabagisha the President of Rwanda National Olympics Committee, to put a wreath on Rwagasana’s grave.
Flowers lay at the graves of Inyange Heroes. / Timothy Kisambira
Family members and survivors of the Nyange School massacre place a wreath and petals on the grave of the Nyange heroes who have are under the Ingenzi category. / Timothy Kisambira
A Rwanda Defence Force officer placed a wreath on the tomb for the Unknown Soldier at the National Heroes’ Mausoleum. / Timothy Kisambira
Catholic nun Felicite Niyitegeka is one of the heroes under the Imena category. She is honoured for having protected the Tusti who ran to her seeking refuge in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi
Members of the Rwanda Defence Force Army Band were on hand to ensure the national heroes received the honour they deserve.