Every year, Rwanda celebrates Heroes Day on February 1st. This is a day when we remember the incredible personalities whose contribution to this country was nothing less of inspirational.
These heroes are people who in many cases gave up their lives so that this country could be a much better place for us all. They gave up their lives because they could not give up their principles.
When we talk about heroes, the names that quickly come to mind include; Major General Fred Gisa Rwigema, King Mutara Rudahigwa III, and Agatha Uwilingiyimana among others. We cannot forget the brave students of Nyange Secondary School.
The Senior Five and Six students of this school were on March 18, 1994 ordered by genocidiares to split into groups according to their ethnic background. They refused to obey this inhumane order and were consequently killed in cold blood.
All the above heroes have so much to teach each of us about being patriotic and maintaining our dignity even during the most difficult of times. It is really important that the life stories of these great men and women be told to everyone and passed on from generation to generation.
More importantly, we need to tell our students to endeavour to emulate Rwanda’s heroes if they are to contribute to the development of this country.
Many times students in their adolescence stage struggle to establish their personal identities while at school, hoping to be seen by their peers as some sorts of heroes.
However many do not know how best to go about this process of leaving a lasting mark or legacy at their schools. They end up getting involved in all sorts of anti-social behaviour hoping to earn respect from their peers.
At the end of the day, such actions only serve to derail their academic priorities.
Some older or bigger students are known to turn into bullies especially in boarding schools while others will try to forge a cult status as Casanovas of some sort.
These Casanovas will try to lure the most beautiful girls into relationships. On the other hand, some rowdy girls also hook up with sugar daddies who willingly buy them expensive things so that they can be the envy of their colleagues.
The students who fail to make any mark in any significant way will give it a last chance by writing their names on desks and walls. The text is usually in the form of something like, “Never Forget Ssenyonga”.
In my opinion these are the dumbest students as far as an attempt at being a hero is concerned.
I always told my students that the silliest thing to do is to write your name somewhere claiming that you should not be forgotten. I always told them that writing on walls is a total waste of time since a new coat of paint would erase the name very soon.
The best way students can be heroes and remembered is if they excelled in their academics and any other school programmes. Heroes like Rwigema excelled in life and now their names are written everywhere and all over history. They never had to write their names anywhere.
Students should therefore strive to excel in class, sports or leadership roles if at all they are to be remembered. The students I easily remember are those who were active in class, sports or were prefects. The dull ones who only found time to write on walls, were quickly forgotten because they were painted away.
Each time exam results are released by the Rwanda National Examination Council, the best performing students instantly become heroes. Their names are all over the media and their school officials will proudly talk about them for years to come.
Therefore, leaving a positive mark at your school is the best way of earning a heroic status that can stand the test of time.