How and when the national anthem should be sung

The national anthem is one of the symbols of the Republic of Rwanda. According to article 3 of Law N° 19/2008 of 14/07/2008 on Characteristics and Ceremonies of the National Anthem, the song constitutes four verses all of which represent the beauty and values of the country.

Concerning ownership, article 4 of Law N° 19/2008 of 14/07/2008 is complimented and modified by article 7 of Law N° 07/2013 of 27/02/2013 which says, “The national anthem is government property.”

Singing the national anthem, according to article 5 of Law N° 19/2008 of 14/07/2008 on Characteristics and Ceremonies of the National Anthem, requires ceremonial respect. This means that when the moment arrives, everyone is expected to participate by singing, standing up and stretching their arms along their bodies. The exception to the rule is anyone with disabilities.

Further expression of respect for the anthem is to be shown by way of removing hats unless someone’s religion or rank requires that he/she wears them.

Article 6 of Law N° 19/2008 of 14/07/2008 on Characteristics and Ceremonies of the National Anthem says that the national anthem shall be sang from beginning to the end. The first and last stanzas are to be sung when receiving Heads of States or Governments and during their departure back to their countries.

Anyone who does not respect the national anthem or does not treat it as sacred is liable to imprisonment and fines. According to article 2 of Law N° 43/2018 of 13/08/2018 Modifying article 8 of Law N°19/2008 of 14/07/2008 on Characteristics and Ceremonies of the National Anthem, the term of imprisonment for disrespecting and desecrating the national anthem ranges from one to two years.

Changing the words of the national anthem is punishable by a term of imprisonment between six months and one year, and/or a fine ranging from Rwf500,000 to Rwf1m one million. This is according to article 3 of Law N° 43/2018 of 13/08/2018 Modifying article 8 of Law N°19/2008 of 14/07/2008 on Characteristics and Ceremonies of the National Anthem. 

Article 4 of Law N° 43/2018 of 13/08/2018 Modifying article 8 of Law N°19/2008 of 14/07/2008 on Characteristics and Ceremonies of the National Anthem increases the fine for singing any other song presenting it as the national anthem. The penalty range was previously Rwf200,000 to Rwf500,000 and now it is Rwf1m to Rwf2m.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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