Heroes Day: Rwandans urged on selflessness

Rwandans should uphold heroic acts as heroes do not appear only in times of war, the Minister for Sports and Culture, Joseph Habineza, has said.

Rwandans should uphold heroic acts as heroes do not appear only in times of war, the Minister for Sports and Culture, Joseph Habineza, has said.

Habineza was addressing journalists at his office on Tuesday, ahead of the upcoming National Heroes Day on February 1.

“Apart from the bravery shown during the liberation struggle, It is possible to have Rwandans admired for their brave deeds and noble pursuits,” Habineza said.

The minister also said that this year’s theme will focus on great achievers in sports, work, medicine and science.

“As we celebrate the heroes of the past, today’s youth should focus on positively inspiring others,” said the minister.

Minister Habineza (L) consults CHENO Executive secretary Deo Nkusi as the  Chancellor, Augustin Iyamuremye speaks during the press conference yesterday. 

He urged Rwandans not to dwell on trivial issues but instead focus on issues that build the country.

The benefits of heroism are not material gains like money, he stressed, but the satisfaction and respect that comes with it.

The week of festivities that starts on January 23 kicks off with a tribute march by the youth, civil servants, among others, from the KBC round-about to Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali.

However, country-wide, as has been the case since 2011, the day will be celebrated at the grassroots with the theme; “Ubutwari bw’Abanyarwanda, agaciro kacu’ loosely translated to mean “Rwandans’ Heroism, Our Dignity.’

The minister and officials from the Chancellery for Heroes, National Order and Decoration of Honour (Cheno), said marking Heroes Day at the grassroots aims at allowing everyone to take part in the activities of the day.

“Families and communities need to have a discussion on heroism. It is not for the elite only,” Habineza said.

The Family of King Mutara Rudahigwa lay wreath on his tomb during a previous Hero's day celebration. (All photos by John Mbanda)

Cheno’s Chancellor Dr Augustin Iyamuremye said people need to differentiate national heroes from people with outstanding actions such as artistes, researchers and others.

The former lawmaker said: “Someone does not become a national hero overnight. It is a process. Such a person is observed for a long period of time to see if they do not change. We now have over 200 people being scrutinised.

“But the issue is not in numbers but people’s ability to draw lessons from our heroes,” Iyamuremye said.

Among those already honoured are Maj. Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigema, an unknown soldier representing all fallen combatants during the struggle for liberation, and students of Nyange who sacrificed their lives rather than separate themselves based on ethnicity.

Others include former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and King Rudahigwa, who advocated for Rwanda’s unity and independence.