Itorero dates back to pre-colonial times. It was a platform where lessons regarding culture, language, patriotism, social relations, sports, dances, songs as well as warrior skills were given.
It nurtured society to grow and uphold Rwandan values, it still does and to date Itorero still holds the same principles just like it did back then.
Different groups of people get a chance to attend Itorero and get training which usually lasts two weeks. Every intakeis given a different name and a self-praising slogan which resonates with that particular group.
So far, approximately 20 intakes have been trained in Itorero.
All university students trained in Itorero were named Intagamburuzwa, Mutima w’Urugo was the name given to a special women Itorero, Imbonezamihigo are district and Kigali City Council members of committees whereas artistes were referred to as Indatabigwi.
Journalists are called Impamyabigwi, teachers Indemyabigwi, and members of cooperatives were known as Indemyabukungu. Imbaturabukungu are people from the private sector, Inkeramihigo are those from the civil society, Imbonezamurage are staff members of the former Ministry of Natural Resources and Abashingwangerero are Cell Executive Secretaries.
Edouard Bamporiki, the Executive Secretary of National Itorero Commission said all the names given to trainees resonate with what they do and their vision.
“For example, if the trainees are medical practitioners, what is the outcome of their profession? They give people treatment which gives them a chance to live longer, so they are called Impeshakurama,” he said.
He said at times the trainees take part in coming up with the names.
“One day we trained a group of ADEPR bishops, and people were curious to know which name we were going to give them. At that time, Rucagu was still the lead trainer, so he had a chat with his colleagues and agreed to name them ‘Ababeramana’, for they represent God and also serve as examples to other Christians,” he said.
Indangamirwa was given to Rwandan students who won scholarships to study abroad, Inkomezamihigo for students completing high school, Inyogajuru for RwandAir employees, Impeshakurama are employees and staff from the health sector while Imbamburiramihigo are public servants.
Executive secretaries of sectors are called Isonga, youth were dubbed Inkomezamihigo, and judges, Izimutakara, after a historical case which was judged fairly by a king at Mutakara.
Bamporiki explained that the names accentuate what the groups stand for and what they will continue focusing on even after the training.
“The name gives mission and tasks to what Intore (trainees) should do. We can’t train people then let them go away without giving them a vision. However, when there a similar intake is trained, the second one falls under the same name,” he said.
The names and poems are chosen by the trainers known as Abatoza b’Intore, who are from the people who were previously trained. Everyone who has been trained becomes a trainer as well, he added.
“It helps people become patriotic; they find that passion for serving their country. The lessons people get from Itorero help them recognise that their contribution, when brought together can help build the country,” he said.
Shaping the country’s direction
Every country chooses its own ideology and the direction in which it wants to head. Bamporiki said, they were molding stronger Rwandans through Itorero.
“When a child is born, it has to be taught how to live and do things in a certain way,” he said, pointing out that the skills people learn from schools are the same worldwide, but when it comes to national ideology, it is guided by the government.
So far, over 1.5 million people have passed through Itorero, and the target is that all Rwandans undergo the same training to promote patriotism, unity and fraternity.
What they say about Itorero
Marcel Sendanyoye, a teacher at Lycée Notre Dame de Citeaux
I always work towards being a true Indemyabigwi, by helping children have knowledge, skills, discipline and patriotism.
Through Itorero, I have learnt that I have to play my role as a teacher to the fullest and in turn help the youth.
JuventineMuragijemariya, a journalist at City Radio
When I remember that I am Impamyabigwi, it gives me the urge to work even harder as a professional journalist, who always says the truth, hates injustice and is the voice of voiceless.
I may not have achieved it 100%, but at least I have a goal and clear vision to give my contribution towards my country through my job.