Rwanda continues to commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which a million people lost their lives, the worst episode in the country’s history. The clock cannot be turned back, so the country’s appalling history will have to remain with us.
We must, however, move forward but, at the same time, learn from our bad history to ensure that we teach the youth the truth about the whole episode. Forgetting the country’s horrific history is an unforgivable betrayal of our future generation.
So, one of the greatest foundations we owe to the young generation is to instil the spirit of patriotism. Patriotism is one of the core values that were lost and consequently the culmination of genocide.
Why patriotism is a core virtue of society? To begin with, patriotism is defined as one’s love and loyalty to his nation, which is enough to instil in them the willingness to sacrifice his life to defend the sovereignty and honour of his country.
A patriotic person is always ready to sacrifice his life for the love for his country. A Patriot is immortal. It is equally true to say when people are proud of their country and they can never imagine of harming their compatriots.
Instead, they pursue the common good of their country. Indeed, when people have the spirit of patriotism in them, they strive for the best of their country as well as for their fellow citizens. And this is what was lacking decades ago and led our country where it ended in 1994.
Patriotism is one of the best virtues of countrymen. It is a noble feeling of the mind. People must wish to make their country land free from anything that is divisive and destructive.
Where patriotism is deep-rooted, people pursue things in the common good of the country. By contrast, where self-centeredness has put down roots people can hardly love their motherland as well as their compatriots. What a bad idiosyncrasy!
It is proverbially said that a selfish man may be rich; he may he born a noble family; he may have a big title, but nobody respects him. After his death, he is forgotten by all. He is sometimes an enemy to the country. He seeks his own interest.
He can even do harm to the country for his own interest. But everybody, praises a patriot. He is an idol by his countrymen. He is honored all over the world.
As such, in our schools and other forums, all of us must bear a moral responsibility to teach patriotism. What I am saying isn’t simply that we should teach about patriotism. We should teach it.
Patriotism is essential to the vitality of our prosperity, unity, development, growth, democracy, peace and so forth. Thus, patriotism must be essential to the spirit, if not the letter, of law in Rwanda.
Hence, it must be basic to “think like a lawyer.” In as much as Rwanda’s Constitution spells out the country’s commitment to upholding our values based on family, morality and patriotism, and ensuring that all State organs serve our common interest, everyone should feel a sense of obligation to contribute towards reshaping the country’s future.
Of course, this is impossible without igniting patriotism. So there’s a need to teach patriotism in all schools among social studies. It is not only about teaching it but also practicing it.
One of the most famous proponents of patriotism is Maharana Rana Pratap Singh of Mewar. He suffered great hardship for his country. Maharana was indeed the epitome of patriotism. He sacrificed everything for the freedom of his country.
He earned an immortal name by his self-sacrifice. Thus many patriots lost their all, even their lives for the good of the country. But they gained one thing. They won the hearts of their countrymen. Likewise, we must love our country; at the same time we must not hate others.
Genocide ideology is an indescribable obliteration of humanity and the very fabric of society. We should, therefore, love our country as well as our countrymen. We must build on what our country has achieved as we square up for the future. We need to be forward-looking and ambitious to reshape our own destiny. Rwanda’s horrific experience is a forever reminiscence of the past bad governance. Though history is irreversible, we must be amazingly resilient.
Characteristically, we have to rethink about the lost moral values that originally defined our society. Such as unity or social cohesion, Rwandanhood (sharing identity, culture and traditions), Christianity (God-fearing and God-loving people), fellow feeling and common interest for the country.
Let all of us fight against any genocide ideology not because it prohibited by law but because it is indescribably egregious. Why should the force of law be a deterrent to genocide or genocidal animus?
If people can express animus for genocide they can be equated to have lost a remotest sense of humanity. Today, Rwanda’s ambitious plan is sustainable development that meets our present needs evenly without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. For such to be achieved, patriotism must be the backbone.
The writer is international law expert.