October 1 is Patriotism Day in Rwanda, usually a moment of reflection on acts of patriotism and extraordinary courage that have characterised the country’s recent history. Some Rwandan authors have preserved the heritage of patriotism and liberation through writing. The New Times talked to some of them and they had their say on what patriotism means for Rwandans. Richard Hategekimana, the Chairman of Rwanda Authors Federation and the author of The Strong Pact with RPF Inkotanyi reflects on the concept of patriotism in his book portraying the history of Rwandans in pre-colonial, colonial as well as post-colonial era. He wrote how colonialists turned Rwanda into a country with conflicts, division, discrimination and violence among its people which made some free their country in 1959. Moreover, he talked about how RPF Inkotanyi mobilised and joined forces which led to the liberation struggle that started on October 1 in 1990 and stopped on July 4 in 1994 when they finally reached their goal of reviving Rwanda. Hategekimana said that Rwandans should adopt the values that characterised RPF Inkotanyi during the struggle which include: dedication, loving their country and sacrificing themselves for it, discipline, knowing the reason to fight and what they wanted, foreseeing, unity, fighting corruption and violence, enhancing foreign affairs, self-reliance as well as dignity. “We are still at the battle. People shouldn’t underestimate what RPF has done. They should preserve what has been achieved and fight for their country to enhance Rwandans’ welfare in terms of education, economy, justice and other aspects of life,’ he said. Yolande Mukagasana, an author and researcher said that patriotism isn’t just words, adding that it should be in the action first and can be added value on when it is put into writings because writings turns to heritage instead of aging. She said that through her writings, one can tell how she portrays patriotism and Rwandan values by how she starts with an axiom that says, “I love Rwandan culture and language.” “There is no bigger gift than the life of a man who committed to die so that you can live. Indeed, that’s the highest example our youth should learn from,” said Mukagasana, who is a survivor of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Still today, she continued, their youth haven’t understood that patriotism is loving Rwanda and Rwandans without division, but we cannot judge them because it is what they were taught and are still being taught. She gave an example of songs of Abanyuramatwi in the period of Parmehutu where they sang that “ganza Gahutu, u Rwanda ni urwawe” which translates in English as “rise Hutu, Rwanda is yours.” She declared that at the reign of MRND, hatred kept soaring and the rights were given to the so-called majority, not the majority of ideas, but the majority of people that colonists declared as the majority from nothing. Sadly, she added, they still don’t understand that the colonists have done wrong and still want to complete what they didn’t finish. Moreover, she reminded youth that those who are not patriotic don’t have origin. “If you do not have origin, you are an unsteady person without humanity because you do not have identity. What characterizes you is the love of who you are because you will never become someone else.” Peter Kalimba, Commissioner at Rwanda Authors Federation and a lecturer at the University of Kigali said that his patriotic support is to teach those around him to love their country, reflecting on Rwandan values. “If there is no country, there is no you. You can die but the country will remain. We should love and give everything to our country in every possible way,” he said adding that the only thing everyone should strive for is making sure they leave the country better than they found it. Kalimba who fought in the liberation struggle with Rwanda Patriotic Front, said that their aim was to liberate Rwanda and get out of refuge and have dignity, adding that fighting was the last option after all efforts had been exhausted. He declared that the current Rwandan youth should comply with their as well as Rwandan values so that they can preserve what RPF Inkotanyi’s youth have done and fulfill what hasn’t been achieved yet.