I felt extremely queasy when I read an article written in this publication on the 10th of October 2009 “Spare historical buildings, residents demand”. I felt, Honorable Minister that I needed to bring this headline to your attention.
The article explained how residents of Byumba town were appealing to the district authorities to preserve King Mutara Rudahigwa III transit lounge building, which was located at Iyange Primary School, because they deemed it a cultural monument.
The residents made this appeal after Adeline Kanyamugenge, the person in-charge of urban planning, announced that the building would be demolished.
Honorable Minister, I am a Rwandan living and schooling in Canada. I love my country and I believe that I am patriotic. Unfortunately, I was never given the opportunity to fully study our country’s history because, like many other Rwandans, I was born and grew up a refugee.
It is therefore, not weird that I have little knowledge about my own country’s history.
Although the Ministry of Education has been working hard to deal with this problem for the past few years, some of the history books about Rwanda contain seriously distorted facts.
This can cause some confusion for us young people.
I’m also frustrated that our country has so few museums; I find this absurd considering that our country has such a rich history.
In this regard, I find it strange that, instead of protecting our monuments, we are busy trying to raze them.
That is why I’m writing to you to express my horror that Adeline Kanyamugenge is willing to stand by and watch the demolition of a historic building for the sake of giving the town a ‘facelift’. The town of Byumba is not so crowded that it is lacking space for construction.
Byumba was an area that had, potentially, a lot of sites for both foreign tourists and generations of Rwandans to share. Unfortunately, only the royal palace remains standing.
Honorable Minister, I am certain that you of all people are aware of how important King Rudahigwa is in our history.
I believe, like many others, that anything related to him is a part of our national heritage and should be conserved.
Everyone knows how he fought the colonial masters who divided this great nation.
Military historian, General Frank Rusagara, in his book titled, “Resilience of a Nation: A History of the Military in Rwanda”, talks about King Rudahigwa and mentions many of the principles of King Rudahigwa’s army that shaped our army today.
Honorable Minister, I am joining the residents of Kageyo Sector to appeal to you to protect the rich historical property of King Rudahigwa from demolition.
Everything that relates to him should be protected by the State. It would bring great pleasure not only to my generation but my children and my children’s children. You will not regret your decision.
The author is a Rwandan studying in Canada