Rwandans in UK celebrate Heroes Day

Hundreds of Rwandans living in different parts of the United Kingdom on Saturday, February 8, converged at Harrow School, one of the country’s most historic schools, to celebrate the 26th Heroes Day.

At the national level, the day was marked on February 1.

During the event, that convened different people including, academia, friends of Rwanda, members of the Commonwealth Futures Programme, the crowd also witnessed the screening of The 600 Film.

The 117 minutes film documents in detail the events in Kigali during the 100 days of the Genocide against the Tutsi and the role of 600 Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) soldiers who were stationed in Kigali, in stopping the massacres.

In her remarks, Yamina Karitanyi, the High Commissioner for Rwanda to the UK, expressed gratitude to the Rwandan community and also used the occasion to pay tribute to the lives of Harrow School’s former students who gave their lives in military services.

The event took place in Harrow’s War Memorial Building.

Karitanyi urged the Rwandan community to not only be inspired by the latter’s courage and bravery but also their love for their country and its people.

“This was at the heart of the Inkotanyi in their tireless, self-sacrificing struggle to reclaim their country and liberate millions of Rwandans” she highlighted.

According to the organisers, the film was a fitting way to reflect and honour the sacrifices made by Rwandans who paid with their lives for a peaceful country.

In what looked like a thought-provoking discussion after the screening, Alexander Abia Ikuzo, a Master’s student at the Staff and Defence Academy in the UK challenged the Rwandan community, particularly the younger attendees, not to wait for tasks to be completed by others but rather take ownership.

“Take ownership and don’t wait for anyone else to act for you. Find what you need to do and get it done,” he said.

Also present was Jonathan Kalisa Kalemera, one of the elders of the Rwandan community in the UK, who defined the essence of heroism as “doing for others”.

He gave an example of a 23-year-old Emmanuel Niringiyimana young man who famously single-handedly built a road connecting the villages of Gashari and Murambi in Karongi District, Western Province.

“He did this for others, not himself,” Kalemera reiterated.

However, he also echoed the same sentiments to the youth, urging them to uphold the values set by the heroes celebrated.

“Be a hero wherever you are and do whatever you can do, drawing from the example set by the Inkotanyi, who achieved so much in-spite of limited resources.”

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