ULK GISENYI COMMUNITY BRIEFED ON HEROES DAY
Like any true government partner would proceed, ULK Gisenyi campus organized a conference
to shed more light on the essence of heroes Day. The event in question took place within the
premises of the aforementioned campus on 29th January 2015. Dr MUNYAMASOKO Cyeze Emmanuel, Deputy Vice Chancellor Academics was the event main speaker.
In a bid to better clarify anything pertaining to Rwandan heroes, Dr. Munyamasoko divided his talk into three parts: Heroism background, heroes in Rwanda and Rwandan Heroism, Our Dignity. The latter being this year’s theme as Rwandans celebrate Heroes Day.
Talking about the background of heroes, the speaker made it clear that heroes have been in existence since time immemorial. He cited a number of examples whereby in 1414, a woman called Jeanne D’Arc from France rescued her country from British seizure and she ended up being crowned a hero who is remembered annually.
As far as Rwanda’s context is concerned, he reiterated that long ago heroism used to be determined by considering one’s battlefield exploits. That is, a warrior who would kill 7 enemies was decorated with an award commonly known as UMUDENDE; the one having killed 14 enemies was to be given IMPOTORE, while the one slaying 21 enemies was to be awarded in a ceremony known as GUCANA URUTI.
However, he went further to explain that during the first and second republics, to be a hero one had to be good at marginalizing and ill-treating innocent people. As he said, such a hatred vis-à-vis their fellow Rwandans is what culminated into the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. In contrast, after 1994, a new government was established and put in place measures and laws punishing whoever might wish to divide Rwandans. It is the same government that made February 2nd a day on which national heroes are commemorated.
Talking about national heroes, he made it clear that Rwandan heroes are grouped into three categories, notably, Imanzi, Imena and Ingenzi. As he illustrated, the first category encompasses two main heroes, that is, an unknown soldier standing for all soldiers who perished while trying to liberate their motherland; and Major General Fred Gisa Rwigema who was the initiator of the liberation struggle and commander-in-chief. The second category embodies four heroes:
Uwiringiyimana Agathe, the then prime minister, Rwagasana Michel, half brother of Kayibanda, former president of the republic, King Rudahigwa and Niyitegeka Felicité who was killed because she continued sheltering victims despite several warnings. The last category is reserved for Nyange Secondary school students who proved their Rwandan spirit when they refused to part themselves after their school had been attacked by interahamwe militias.
While trying to vindicate this year’s theme, Rwandan Heroism, Our Dignity, he said that today a person feels proud to be called Rwandan all over the world. He attributed this pride to the bravery that defined Rwandan heroes when they were still alive. He went further to say that being a hero requires one to avoid selfishness and strive for patriotism. “Being a hero does not
happen in the blue, it requires someone to be selfless and patriotic. Our heroes have been people of integrity, people whose deeds were appreciated by many, therefore we have to emulate their example”, he told participants.
At the end of Dr. Munyamasoko’s talk, participants were given the opportunity to add comments and ask questions and this marked the end of the function.