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Honorable Minister of Sports and Culture Ambassador Joseph Habineza, meets ULK Community on the anticipated talk on Heroes’ Day

January 29, 2015 Kigali Independent University ULK (Kigali Campus) community was privileged to welcome Honorable Minister of Sports and Culture Ambassador Joseph Habineza accompanied by Major Gerald Nyirimanzi, both main speakers in a preparation of the Heroes Day which would take place on February 1, 2015.
The talk was started by a Word of prayer said by the Vice Chancellor of ULK; Dr. Ezechiel Sekibibi followed by his welcoming message to the distinguished guests.
Given the floor, Major Gerald Nyirimanzi reminded the audience and shed light on the theme of this year’s Heroes Day which is “Rwandans’ Heroism, Our dignity” . He said that the dignity we enjoy today as Rwandans is not an accident but rather a result of endurance and best practices of our heroes who stood firm to defend our country throughout history.
As a matter of fact, according to Rwandan history and that of neighboring countries; some of them are said to have disappeared owing to the fact that they lacked heroes to defend them but Rwanda prevailed and protected its identity as a country thanks to the heroism of its sons.
He added that we should not take our dignity for granted because it took lives of many Rwandans who sacrificed themselves to fight against all threats and attacks on the country for us to be who we are today.
Major Gerald went on highlighting the four main threats which our country was faced with as follows:

  1. Bunyoro Kitara Empire attack on Rwanda as a kingdom around 12th century where a hero by the names of Forongo resorted to military strategies to defeat the enemy.
  2. Bunyoro attack on Rwanda where both the king and queen were killed. Rwanda seemed to be a failed state but Ruganzu Ndoli returned in the country to wipe away the cries of Rwandan people.
  3. Colonial threat: This is one of the biggest threats that our country was faced with. Rwandans were not able to resist colonialists not because they were cowards but colonialists were more advanced in technology than we were. However, we can’t miss to mention people like Rukara rwa Bishingwe (Rukara son of Bishingwe). This threat led our country to the horrible 1994 genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi.
  4. Genocide ideology: Fighting against this threat does not require military weapons but the change of mindset and get rid of whatever kind of thought aiming at bringing us back to the horrors our country experienced in 1994.

Major Gerald emphasized that heroes were awarded in recognition of their brave and tremendous work for their motherland.

How do we define a hero today? Major Gerald asked.

A hero in modern era is someone who identifies challenges and problems and finds solutions to them. A hero is also someone who does not do ordinary acts. He took that opportunity to salute achievements made by the Founder and President of ULK, Prof. Dr. Rwigamba Balinda and urged everyone to be the best they can and always strive to come up with extraordinary work. He reminded the young people not to take part into undefined groups which have not aim.
Honorable Minister of Sports and Culture said that before the arrival of colonists, Rwanda was a country where its citizens were united with a solid culture but colonists made us embrace theirs which was not better than ours. They introduced divide and rule system. We believed in one God like them, we knew how to count because when soldiers were from the battle sang their own praises and were awarded according to the number of people they had killed. For instance, someone who killed 7 enemies was awarded Umudende, someone who killed 14 people was given Impotore and Gucana uruti was awarded to someone who killed 21 people.
He emphasized that acts of heroism are not of recent but take their roots from ancient Rwanda. Therefore it is worth evoking that the dignity our country enjoys today is a sign of bravery of our ancestors which has always been part of our culture.

Hon. Minister said that Rwanda is one of the countries where slavery was resisted because our ancestors understood the value of being Rwandan. As a matter of fact, some parts of Rwanda were named after acts of heroism such as Bwanamukari (a Swahili word translated as a tough man) as a sign that traditional leaders of that area resisted their attack on them.
Emphasizing the previous talk, Hon. Minister said once from the battlefield some were awarded medals for their acts of exceptional bravery and cowards were not awarded but blamed.

“Rwanda has always strived for dignity”.

The minister said that today our country is respected all over the world for its exceptional acts of heroism. In 1994 our country seemed to have disappeared but our identity of recognizing who we ware was kept and we experience transformation in a tremendous way within only 20 years. He added that the speed of achievements of our country is not proportional to its size due to our heroism. It is amazing that Rwanda is experiencing tremendous change in such aspects as economic, military, politic and other spheres of life.
This year’s Heroes’ day will be celebrated at the grassroots level to help everyone understand that they too can be heroes. As a matter of fact, CHENO (Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honors) has put in place the mechanism to award every Rwandan who can achieve exceptional acts in various areas such as science, social affairs, sports and culture and so on and so forth.

The minister asked the audience to take him at his word that it is possible to be a hero today and added that the only way you can make it is to have passion for what you are doing; to dream to be something better. He reminded everyone that they should get rid of gossip but rather work hard and dream big. That’s what this day is all about.
“Heroism is not whatever kind of battle we can fight but it is all about sitting and thinking of what you can do to develop your country and the life of its citizens”. The minister emphasized.

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