The country yesterday marked Heroes’ Day, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that is due April 7.
The observance of the country’s heroes and heroines was held under the theme: “Ndi Umunyarwanda: Inkingi y’Ubutwari.’ (Essence of Heroism),” around which Rwandans held discussions in all villages (imidugudu).
At the centre of the discussions was Ndi Umunyarwanda, a national programme launched last year as a rallying call for all to pull in the same direction and discard any divisive tendencies blamed for plunging the nation into Genocide that killed more about a million people 20 years ago.
The country’s top leaders, including President Paul Kagame, visited Heroes Mausoleum near Amahoro Stadium in Remera, Kigali and laid wreaths on the tombs.
Close family members of the departed also paid their respects.
Marie Nishimwe, a heroine in the category of ‘Imena’ who survived the attack on the students of Nyange: “It’s terrible and unbelievable what happened at the Nyange school but I like the fact that I and other former students were able to do good. Today we are proud of what we did.”
Libérée Muhayimana, a heroine in the category of ‘Imena’ who survived the attack on students of Nyange: “I’m happy and I am always happy on Heroes’ Day because we are able to dedicate this time to the memory of our heroes. It would be a scandal if people had no time to remember the good things they did.”
Christine Mukansanga, a sister to Valens Ndemeye, a hero in the category of ‘Imena’ who died in the attack on Nyange students: “I remember my departed brother. He was a nice kid who liked everyone. He could be a good example for today’s young Rwandans too.”
Alexis Ndamage, the husband to Béatrice Mukambaraga, a heroine in the category of ‘Imena’ who died in the attack on Nyange school students: “I can see her image today and I remember all her good deeds, her plans and what she could do if she were alive today. She died like a man even if she was a woman. She always challenged those who promoted ethnic-based segregation.”
Jean-Jacques Indekezi, lost his adopted son, Sylvestre Bizimana, a hero in the category of ‘Imena’ who died in the attack on Nyange school students.
He is also a distant relative to King Mutara III Rudahigwa, also a hero in the category of ‘Imena’: “We Rwandans are lucky because we have heroes and heroines who died for our country. They were the sacrifice for the life and the freedom we have today. Rwanda was really blessed to have them. The heroes and heroines are the people that Rwandans will continue to emulate.”