The heroism exhibited by the former military wing of the political organisation RPF-Inkotanyi, the RPA and the achievements registered since the end of the armed liberation struggle are some of the factors behind the creation of a youth group based in Kigali.
This was said by members of Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing (RYVCP) during the event to mark Heroes’ Day, on Thursday, at Kinyinya Sector in Gasabo District.
The youth group members converged in Kagugu to partly learn about the liberation struggle and particularly how the RPA fighters stopped the massacres in Kigali during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Jean Bosco Mutangana, the RYVCP commissioner for mobilisation and training, said they chose to celebrate the Heroes’ Day in the Kagugu area to learn from its remarkable history as far as stopping the Genocide is concerned.
An ex-FAR (the army of the genocidal government) armored vehicle mounted at Kagugu hill killed many Tutsi who were fleeing massacres in different parts of Kigali to seek refuge at the Parliamentary Building, which was under the protection of the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA).
The tank was destroyed by the RPA troops, which made it easy for people to cross to parliament, where the 600 RPA troops were stationed as part of the Arusha Peace Accord with the then government.
The tank has been preserved and it is still stationed where it was during the Genocide, along the Gacuriro-Gisozi road.
The 600-strong 3rd RPA battalion would boldly emerge from the Parliamentary Building in the heart of the capital Kigali in April 1994 under attack from genocidal forces to repulse enemy advances while undertaking the audacious task of saving lives.
“We have learnt that besides stopping innocent people from finding protection at the Parliamentary Building and killing many of them, the armored vehicle was being used to stop or delay RPA advancements to save people who were being massacred in Kigali,” said Mutangana.
“This is history worth learning; it’s an example of dying for the greater good… it’s a legacy that teaches us, as young people,about the youth that put their lives on the line to liberate our country, and we continue to draw from their example to show them that they didn’t die in vain,” Mutangana explained.
Almost all the RPA fighters were youth, most of whom dropped out of school to join the liberation struggle that was fought between1990 and 1994.
“It’s the spirit of nationalism and hard work that we continue to press on to make our country safe for sustainable development, and to pay tribute to our heroes.”
Calliste Kalimunda, the representative of IBUKA, the umbrella of Genocide survivors, in Kinyinya Sector, lauded the desire of the young people to learn the country’s history and commitment to actively take part in the country’s transformation process.
As part of the Heroes’ Day anniversary, members of the youth group also engaged in different human security activities in various parts of the country.
In Bugesera District, the youth volunteers built toilets for four households and donated beddings to disadvantaged families in Rilima Sector.
The youth group, composed of about 250, 000 students and graduates, has been instrumental in the country’s development programmes and is a partner of Rwanda National Police (RNP) in human security and policing activities, including anti-crime awareness in communities and schools.
Their activities since they started out in 2013 are valued at over Rwf630 million.
These include construction and rehabilitation of 13308 houses for the disadvantaged families, construction and rehabilitation of 1440km of roads linking communities, construction of 1989 toilets, and planting over 67800 trees as part of the afforestation and environmental conservation programme.
Others include 5,321 organic gardens, locally known as akarima k’igikoni, making 115, 000 bricks, and 3200 metres of water trenches, and paying medical insurance premiums for 284 people. They have also been instrumental in raising awareness against crimes and drug abuse as well as donating heifers under the One Cow Per Poor household scheme.