President Paul Kagame has said that learning from past mistakes will play a key role in building a stronger nation.
The Head of State was speaking yesterday at Saint Léon Minor Seminary in Kabgayi during celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary since the school was established, in an event held at the institution’s premises in Muhanga District, Southern Province.
The seminary was founded in October 1913 by the then Monsignor Jean Joseph Hirth. At the beginning, the seminary housed both the minor and major seminary, until the two were separated in 1917.
“This seminary has an important place in our history. We cannot escape our own history because we will always remember the good and the bad,” the President said.
He added, “History has taught us that we must do all we can, to work hard and transform our own nation. God has given us all the strength that we need to achieve our goals and it is up to us to put it to right use to develop our country.”
Kagame observed that the school groomed students into responsible citizens as was seen among some of the school’s alumni who are in various leadership positions in the country and are contributing to the development of the country in terms of social, politics and economy.
Many who attended the Muhanga-based catholic school are in various leadership positions while others have become successful business people, church leaders, corporate magnates and top managers, among others.
The most known among its alumni include former President Gregoire Kayibanda, Monsignor Aloys Bigirumwami, the first Rwandan bishop, famous historian and writer Father Alexis Kagame, celebrated poet, singer and author Cyprien Rugamba, Bishop Thadee Ntihinyurwa, the Archbishop of Kigali, current minister of Education Vincent Biruta and Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) Secretary General Francois Ngarambe, among others.
“What the seminary is offering is essential for Rwanda’s progress...a good education makes everything else fall into place. When you have good education and health, the rest will be easy to manage,” The President noted.
Kagame pledged towards the construction of the seminary’s new facilities that will benefit vulnerable students at the school. He called for strong partnership among Rwandans towards the development of the country.
Since the creation by the White Brothers, over 5,200 students have been educated at the school, of whom 321 became priests.
During the colonial times, the school was a source of political ideology that culminated into the Hutu manifesto written in 1958 by former President Kayibanda with the support of white priests.
During the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the school became a major site and the military chaplain Emmanuel Rukundo was convicted by the ICTR in 2010 for acts of genocide committed at school.
Presently, the school offers secondary level education in Maths-Chemistry-Biology (MCB) and Physics-Chemistry-Maths (PCM) combinations and is amongst the best schools in the country.
Mporanyi Charles, a former student, said the school has helped its students nurture discipline in whatever they do.
“For any student who went through this school, discipline is an identity,” Mporanyi said. “Discipline guides us through whatever we do and helps us shape our future and that of the country.”
Gasana Fidèle, 61, who joined the school in 1967, said the school helped him and others to excel in life. He called on current management and students to maintain its legacy of excellence.
“The school gave us full education”, he said, citing intellectual and spiritual development.
“The education we received here helped us discover our capabilities and put skills to use for development.”
Promises and resolve
Speaking at the event, Monsignor Smaragde Mbonyintege, the Bishop of Kabgayi Catholic Diocese, said the Church will continue to champion quality education to produce excellent students who will make a positive impact in the lives of Rwandans.
“We shall not relent our efforts towards providing quality education,” Bishop Mbonyintege said.
Kabgayi Diocese, where the seminary is located, is home to over 98 catholic primary schools, 72 schools under the Nine and Twelve Years Basic Education, 5 secondary schools and one university, Mbonyintege said.