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As Rwandans get ready to mark the 22nd National Heroes Day, different personalities are moving around the country to share with people views on what heroism is all about. It is in this framework that on 28th January, 2016 ULK Gisenyi staff and students were privileged to welcome two speakers namely, Dr Nkaka Raphael and Western Province Police Commander, Mutezintare Bertin.

Mutezintare Bertin, Western Commander of Police

Given the floor, Dr Nkaka put forth the grounds on which the government based to consider February 1st as the National Heroes Day. As he said, February is a month in which many Rwandans countrywide are economically stable and it is a month with less Public holidays. Thus, those factors and others made the government find it worthwhile to have the National Heroes Day celebrated in February.

Dr Nkaka Raphael

He also highlighted the relevance of paying tributes to Rwandan heroes. As he put it forth, heroes are remembered for various reasons such as, showing the world that Rwandans have values rooted in their past, thanking those who stopped genocide, to mention but a few.

He went further to show that there are three categories in which national heroes are grouped. The first category stands for those known as imanzi, the second stands for imena while the third is for ingenzi. Still at this point, he made it clear that imanzi embodies two heroes: Maj. Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigema and an unknown soldier representing all the combatants perished while rescuing the country.

Imena encompasses heroes like King Mutara Rudahigwa, Uwiringiyimana Agatha, Felicité Niyitegeka, Michel Rwagasana and Nyange Secondary School students who strongly dismissed the request by Interahamwe militias to part themselves according to their ethnic groups. Ingenzi category is reserved for all living heroes.

Another important point he stressed is the heroism of Rwandans which goes back to ancient civilizations. As clearly said, Rwandans lived heroic lives especially while at the battlefield.

To this, he said that a fighter who could kill 7 enemies was awarded a medal culturally known as umudende, the one who killed 14 enemies had to be given a modal known as impotore, while the extraordinary fighter who could kill 21 enemies was to be publicly recognized in a ceremony known as gucana uruti.


Since the speaker is a specialist in history, he could not fail to have a say on the history of Rwanda. He briefly chunked the history in question into three parts and said that the period before the arrival of colonizers was marked by harmony among Rwandans, the colonizers’ regime championed inequality among Rwandans, and the post colonialism bitterly put divisionism at the forefront and this is what culminated into the genocide against the Tutsis.

However, as he added, the country’s future is promising due to the fact that after stopping genocide, the country is now led by people who are doing all it takes to give Rwandans equal opportunities and a shared brighter future.
Speaking at the occasion, RPC Mutezintare Bertin reminded participants that heroism does not come on a silver platter.

It requires one to be resilient, selfless, patriotic, but above all, to sacrifice one’s life for fellow countrymen.
“If you need to follow in the footsteps of our fallen heroes, you should be good-mannered people whose behavior is worth emulating. You can’t sit and fold your arms and expect to become a hero one day”, Mutezintare said to the applause of the audience who had filled the room to its capacity.


When the function neared its end, Dr Munyamasoko Cyeze Emmanuel made it to the podium and thanked both speakers for having accepted to come and address the campus community. He also requested them to find more time and come again since participants’ thirst seemed not to be thoroughly quenched. Besides, he merged what was said by both speakers with the values of the university and urged participants to own those values if theirs is to become heroes in the days ahead.

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