The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: How Heroes Were Celebrated Countrywide

In all villages across the country, citizens gathered yesterday to observe, for the 19th time, the National Heroes' Day.

Like in any national day, it was marked by not only dancing, but also civic education, supporting the needy and get-togethers (ubusabane) as another sign of harmony among neighbours and their local leaders.

In Kamutwa cell, Kacyiru sector, where Ruganwa and Kigufi villages in Gasabo district converged to celebrate the day, the agenda included a lecture.

The guest of honour, Amb. Eraste Kabera, who resides in Ruganwa, told the over 300 citizens in the hall of the former Kigali Independent University campus, that the qualities of a hero includes having a strong and supportive heart, ready to pay the ultimate price in the interest of the country and being a role model to all.

In an interactive session, he reminded them of the three categories of heroes (Imanzi, Imena and ingenzi), saying the highest category (Imanzi) is special because it only includes people with great devotion, who are no longer alive.

Sharing profiles

Kabera took time to share the profile of each of the Rwandan heroes, starting with Maj. Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigema and the 'Unknown Soldier'.

Residents in the countryside also took part in the celebrations and, besides the debates and the entertainment, they dedicated the day to the charity activities.

In Bwishyura sector of Karongi district, every two villages met on the same site to celebrate, making sure that everybody enjoyed.

Cyriaque Niyonsaba, the executive secretary of Bwishyura sector, said, "We brought in a basket and fundraised towards supporting at least one person in each of the nine sites," he said, adding that this part of the celebration will also grant 20 goats and nine mattresses to the most vulnerable citizens.

Celebrating from home

In the past, the celebrations of national holidays were centralised to the district and national level, but this was found to have more weaknesses than advantages.

"We cannot all of us go to the national stadium, for example, because the place wouldn't accommodate all the over one million of city residents; thus, it becomes more convenient to meet in neighborhoods," said Jean Claude Ntuyenabo, a resident of Kamutwa cell in Kacyiru, a Kigali suburb.

The celebration at village level gives the chance to citizens to host their local leaders at home, which, according to Philbert Mugisha, the mayor of Nyamagabe district, helps them to get their efforts acknowledged.

Mugisha was heading to Buruhukiro sector, Munini cell, dozens of kilometres from the district's tarmac road.

"We shouldn't focus on towns only, because even in the villages our people work hard and they merit this recognition as we celebrate heroism as the foundation of Agaciro," he said.

The mayor was implying the case of residents from a village in Munini cell, who have bought 16 motorcycles from growing Irish potatoes to uplift their livelihood.

"Approaching our people is very important as we promote good governance and decentralisation; they are the ones we serve", he said.

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