The Rwanda-Tanzania Friendship Association (RWATAFA), recently held a Mass at Regina Pacis Roman Catholic church in Remera in remembrance of the late former Tanzanian President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
The mass, that has been celebrated since 2000, attracted many Rwandans and Tanzanians living and working in Rwanda.
Addressing the congregation, RWATAFA Chairman, Isidor Gahamanyi, said that Nyerere should not only be remembered in Rwanda, but in Africa as a whole.
“Mwalimu Nyerere will remain in the hearts of many Africans because he served as a champion and symbol of inspiration in the process of African liberation struggles from the shackles of colonialism,” Gahamanyi said.
He explained that for Rwanda, Nyerere will forever be remembered for his great role in welcoming, uniting and taking care of Rwandans who fled their motherland because of divisive politics.
“He welcomed refugees from Rwanda, our pioneer political leaders who fled the early political atrocities and killings that were planned and coordinated by the colonial administration,” he said.
He also pointed out that Nyerere was an exemplary Pan African leader who was always there for Rwandans.
According to Gahamanyi, Nyerere at one time disagreed with the OAU (now African Union) Head of States on the decision to request the UN to transfer Rwandan refugees from the Eastern Provinces of DRC to Canada.
“His position was that, it would be a great shame for African leaders to fail to accommodate fellow Africans in their own continent and send them to another continent,” he said.
“He requested U.N.H.C.R. to take them to Tanzania where he settled them in Mwese Camp in Mpanda District”.
The government of Rwanda decorated the late Nyerere with the “Uruti” medal which is Rwanda’s National Liberation Medal, and “Umurinzi”, Rwanda’s Campaign Against Genocide Medal.
Mrs. Maria Nyerere, the late president’s wife, received the posthumous medals on behalf of her husband.