Indeed, I would love to start by saying that Rwanda is a beautiful country; having the most strategic, wise and ambitious leaders in all of Africa! There is no doubt about that; no other place to live than Rwanda.
Wow! I had to say that before I jump to my experience in Itorero ry’igihugu that concluded last week.
The course was organized by the government to empower youth to stick to their cultural ethics and values.
The government invested a lot in the whole event, from the sound system, feeding, student’s basic materials like sanitation products, transportation and, medication among many other things.
There were 87 training sites in the whole country where students from different sectors, cells and settlements met in every district. There were approximately 50,000 students who completed high school all together doing the course.
People always mistake Itorero ry’igihugu with Ingando. However, Ingando is more of a military course that is given to people to be equipped with techniques and tactics of the military for a particular reason.
While for ‘Itorero ry’igihugu’…is a more culturally course based in exhorting the core values and traditions of Rwandans, patriotism and the vision of the country towards development.
A week before November 25, 2010 (the day itorero ry’igihugu started), many Senior Six leavers all over the country, were so freaked out by the whole idea of “itorero ry’igihugu” because of rumours that had been circulated by the 2009 trainees.
They had said that there were obvious punishments like ‘kwiviringita’ (rolling yourself in mud), nutrition insufficiency, water problems, curfew and the whole fact that students will be away from home for 20 days. All that was clanging in our minds by the time we arrived at our respective sites.
I was quite nervous and worried, since I had never lived in boarding school all my high school years. I was not used to cleaning shoes, and finding someone else weraing them the next minute. yo! I learnt how to be patient.
The great thing was that I had friends from my neighbourhood and former school; this made me feel like I was ‘home away from home.’
All phones were taken away from those who had brought them (sad story for texters, especially rtel, callers, facebook , e-buddy, and nimbuzz fans).
At my site (Kabuga High School) there was very good organisation due to our two genuine coordinators; they loved us and treated us like their own kids. We were highly protected by military, police and local defense—something to be grateful for.
When it came to eating, it was not a problem, and for once I did not complain much—besides the mixture of maize and beans which we nicknamed ‘inkoko’; the rest was fine because there was a daily yummy breakfast, potatoes, rice, greens, cabbage and meat (once a week).
At some point, food was better than homes’ (for some teens).
Briefly, we learnt the real meaning of INTORE (someone who is trained in itorero ry’igihugu); the responsibilities that concern Intore in developing the country and abiding by the culture.
Intore should be patriotic people whose aim is to guard the serenity of the country and to unite as Rwandans in the battle against poverty.
Intore should keep up with the values learnt wherever he may be and take part in the country’s vision 2020.
Intore should be aware of HIV/AIDS, prevent it and promote gender equality in all aspects.
Unity and reconciliation of Rwandans. Setting our goals on what knits us together rather than what puts us asunder.
The role of intore in Community policing and elections.
Also issues surrounding environmental conservation, fighting genocide ideology, the East African Community and family planning (In Rwanda all citizens are urged to produce a maximum of three children) were addressed.
I learnt much and I did not know I would become sharper and patriotic. During the last days, what convinced me that students had learnt something was that they passionately participated in ‘umuganda’ (community cleaning exercise) in Kabuga town.
They helped five known poor families in the sector and agave them goats to rear. I also made a lot of friends and I urge all people to go in itorero ry’igihugu.