It is safe to say that when it comes to finding inspiring people to emulate, Rwandan youth are spoilt for choice. By loose definition, a hero is someone who has done something brave and good and is respected by a significant number of people. As Rwanda observes the 29th national Heroes Day—a day dedicated to commemorating the lives and patriotic efforts of those who fought for the country and helped restore peace—young people can draw lessons and inspiration from the selfless people who pulled the country out of a dark pit. Lessons to learn Nicholas Rwaka, the post director of research at The Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honour (CHENO), says that the youth should be brave as “our heroes were characterised by bravery to the extent of losing their own lives in the interest of others.” “The spirit of patriotism is one that should be implemented, and young people should look to loving the general interest of others, instead of personal benefits,” he says. Rwaka calls upon the youth to grasp the virtue of truthfulness, noting that this involves being fair and speaking the truth all the time. And, most importantly, shunning divisionism, corruption, discrimination, and more. He also notes that young people must be compassionate and work together for unity among Rwandans to be fully valued. “Protect your talent, work with your country, and execute outstanding actions. For development, harmony, and hard work come into play,” Rwaka points out. ALSO READ: Youth urged on nation-building ahead of Heroes Day celebrations Bertin K. Ganza, the founder of Afflatus Africa, a Pan-African youth hub that works to inspire, empower, engage, and connect African youth with the purpose of unveiling their potential, believes that his purpose is to live a generous life and improve fellow citizens’ lives every day. “Every morning, I step out of my house with hopes to contribute to someone else’s happiness, and every night I go to bed with gratitude for fulfilling that. I believe young people should try to be the light in someone’s darkness, that is, through giving hope to the hopeless, an ear to those who are heavily burdened, but also, to cheer those who feel insecure,” he says. Volunteering with different organisations and learning from them enabled Ganza to start his organisation in 2017. His passion for community development and youth empowerment was inspired by eight years of volunteering and working with diverse organisations. “Every young person should deploy themselves to services that will benefit the nation without expecting anything in return,” he says. There are many heroes that Ganza appreciates; like Mahatma Gandhi, Maya Angelou, and Dr Myles Munroe, but most of all, his mother who, he says, had the truest form of courage and hard work while raising him. “I call her bravery because she taught me to value people over anything else, and do much with the little I have,” he says. Going after what he wants, not giving up, caring and sharing, genuine love, having options for possibility in the face of difficult situations, and also, working to change the circumstances and making a difference, are all lessons he picked from his mother. According to Sylvestre Nsengimana, a local poet, when he thinks about Heroes Day, he remembers and celebrates noble people who showed the spirit of real nationalism and kindness. He says that their great spirit motivates the young generation to be kind and exercise loyalty towards one another. “A number of people ought to be celebrated, and some of these are Major General Fred Gisa Rwigema, Nyange students, Agatha Uwilingiyimana, the Unknown Soldier (all who lost their lives fighting for their country), and Félicite Niyitegeka,” he says. He adds that if the country didn’t have heroes, we wouldn’t be witnessing the beauty of Rwanda today. “This is why the young generation crafts great initiatives today because they got lessons from them. Without them, there would be no source of inspiration,” he says. Nsengimana considers his mother his hero due to the selfless battles she fought to turn him into the man he is today. “She introduced me to God and church at an early age, and she has supported me on my spiritual growth journey, this has instilled discipline in me and I am certain that it is a path I won’t deviate from. She also made sure that I was noble, healthy, and invested in my education regardless of all the adversities she encountered,” Nsengimana says of his mother. His other hero is King Mutara III Rudahigwa, and celebrates him for his courage, ruthlessness, and fearlessness towards his purpose. Nsengimana admired his approach towards Rwanda’s liberation. And the example he imitates from him is persistence. He speaks of the time Rudahigwa went to Germany for a visit and was denied a return ticket to attend a meeting with fellow pan-Africans to discuss liberation for their countries. “He went ahead and attended the meeting regardless. His life was totally dedicated to serving his people, and he died a man with something worth fighting for, freedom,” he says. Enathe Uwamahoro, a civil engineer, notes that celebrating Rwandan heroes enlightens young people on where the country came from, and what needs to be done to continue on the path of peace and reconciliation, and also, development. “Since there are more opportunities now, the youth ought to use them and take over from where the heroes stopped, and even do more,” she says. For Vivian Kabasinga, a fashion designer and accountant, humanity would be worse if certain people didn’t influence history. She explains that heroes show that in a world full of evil, and challenges, there are good deeds by individuals to express positive change. “Our heroes didn’t only solve problems, but also, delivered justice and encouraged both the old and young generation to do what is right and best for humankind,” Kabasinga says. Bonita Umulinga, a student at the University of Rwanda, believes that following in heroes’ footsteps is what all young people should do. This takes self-sacrifice, courage, and determination. She adds that the good example our heroes set for us should be used to build Rwanda, and this calls for unity. Young people should learn to practice good acts that don’t only benefit them, but others.