Rwandans living in the United Kingdom on Saturday gathered to celebrate Heroes’ Day in an event held at the University of East London’s Stratford Campus.
The celebrations saw participants discuss the values that characterised Rwandan heroes of different generations and how the present generation can draw lessons from them.
Speaking at the event, Yamina Karitanyi, the High Commissioner for Rwanda to the UK, said that the day is meant to honour heroes who made ultimate sacrifices to liberate the country.
“It is a day to celebrate the heroes, known and unknown, who have made sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, so that we could live in a Rwanda free from division and be given that unique opportunity to contribute in building the Rwanda we want,” she explained.
The Chairperson of the National Itorero Commission, Edouard Bamporiki, said that to build on the achievements of the heroes, Rwandans should be taught about their history, culture and identity.
“If we continue to adopt the ideology of one ‘Rwandan’ people, we will continue to thrive as a people and as a nation – this is the philosophy of RPF (governing party). We wish for the Rwandans and RPF-UK to continue to grow in numbers and in strength. RPF-Inkotanyi represents the Rwandan of today and tomorrow,” Bamporiki said.
Bamporiki challenged the youth present to take over from the country’s heroes and seek to make meaningful achievements and development.
“You are not responsible for what happened, but you have the responsibility of rebuilding what was destroyed by the old generation,” he said.
Kalisa Kalemera, one of the elders of the Rwandan Community in the UK, called for more initiatives to educate young Rwandans on their culture and history.
He warned of the risks of not knowing one’s history.
“Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat bad history, therefore we have to know ours”……. Do not only admire our country’s economic development and the milestones of Rwanda – we must also participate in the development process,” he said.
Heroes’ Day is celebrated at the national level every year on February 1.