President Paul Kagame, on Saturday, laid a wreath in honor of Rwanda’s national heroes at the National Heroes Mausoleum in Remera, Kigali during the 26th anniversary of the National Heroes Day.
Kagame honored the heroes alongside government officials and the Dean of the diplomatic corps, Amb. Guy Nestor Itou of the Republic of Congo.
The day was observed under the theme “Our Heroism, our Dignity,” and the same theme is expected to be maintained for years to come as the country seeks to instill heroic values among citizens.
The celebrations were held from villages to embassies where Rwandans paused to honor the ultimate sacrifice of the exceptional individuals whose legacy continues to inspire Rwandans.
According to the law establishing the Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honour (CHENO), a hero is any person who pursues objectives he/she undertakes to obtain a special achievement for the public interest and with high proven integrity, sacrifice and noble courage in their acts and who avoids being a coward in their actions in very trying situations.
Rwandan heroes are classified into three categories: Imanzi, Imena, and Ingenzi.
A person cannot join the Imanzi category when they are still alive.
So far, heroes in Imanzi category are two; Maj. Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigema, the first commander of the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) and the ‘Unknown Soldier,’ who represents all fighters who died during the liberation struggle.
A hero in the Imena category is one who is reputed for his/her extraordinary acts for the country which are characterized by supreme sacrifice, high importance, and example.
Presently, heroes in this category include King Mutara III Rudahigwa, Michel Rwagasana, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, Félicité Niyitegeka, and Nyange (students) heroes.
How the day was celebrated in different villages
Citizens in all countrywide villages celebrate the heroes’ day and the messages to them were displayed on different twitter accounts of the districts.
Nadine Umutoni Gatsinzi, the Vice Mayor of Kigali in Charge of Socio-economic Affairs, joined the residents of Kagasa Cell, in Kicukiro District of Kigali city to celebrate national heroes day and urged citizens to strive for heroism.
“You have to sustain the good results produced by our heroes after fighting for them,” she told the residents.
During the celebration in Bugesera District, Maj. Vincent Butera said: “The struggle to liberate Rwanda is the history that must help the youth to understand the spirit to embrace heroism activities. It is an opportunity for youth to think big and hold patriotic values.”
Richard Mutabazi, the mayor of the district said: “This is a special day to remember that we have a government and leadership that wishes the best for its citizens. In education, schools have increased from one school to over 45 schools,” he said.
The Mayor of Ngoma District, Aphrodis Nambaje asked the residents to do their activities by emulating the country's heroes.
“In your daily activities such as agriculture, livestock keeping, education, health, and others, take into account heroic activities. You must hold values of working hard and sustaining the achievements,” he urged the residents.
Amb. Guy Nestor Itou of the Republic of Congo, who is also the dean of the diplomatic corps lays a wreath in honor of Rwanda's national heroes at the National Heroes Mausoleum in Remera. / Sam Ngendahimana