3 February 2013

Rwanda: More Occasions Needed to Remember the Heroes


The Heroes Day, celebrated on February 1 every year, is the occasion to remember the bravery and selflessness of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Being well aware of the great risks they ran, they nevertheless went ahead and did what they did because they were convinced that their country would benefit from it. They accepted to lose their life for the good of Rwanda.

The students of Nyange Secondary School are an extraordinary example. When asked by heavily armed thugs to separate the Hutus from the Tutsis, they refused. It would have been easy for the Hutus among them to have pointed out the Tutsis, thus saving their own lives; yet they stood with their classmates, facing the guns and grenades. And even after the attackers shot one of them in cold blood because he told them "We are all Rwandans," they did not relent; they could have easily begged for their life, but they still refused. As a result, six of them were killed and twenty injured. All of them undoubtedly will carry the trauma of that horrible night for the rest of their life.

What makes the case of the Nyange students so extraordinary, is that they were still children. They had their entire life still before them, so it must have taken extraordinary courage to decide to sacrifice it. Because there is no doubt that they realized very well what risk they were taking in refusing to cooperate with their attackers, considering that at the time there were still regular attacks in which remnants of the FAR and the Interahamwe ruthlessly killed people. Yet those youngsters decided that if they would give in, there was no stopping the country of sliding back to the horror of 1994. And so they made the ultimate sacrifice for Rwanda.

Behind each and every of the people who have so far been officially recognized as heroes, there is such an inspirational story. They are heartwarming and encouraging stories that can help us with our own struggles in life which more often than not are inconsequential compared to what the Heroes had to face.

It would therefore be a good thing if more occasions were created to remember them and their extraordinary tales, apart from the annual Heroes Day. Teachers should make sure to often refer to them, because our youth has many lessons to learn from their histories. But in other areas too, there must be more mention of our Heroes. In a song contest such as the Guma Guma Superstar, why not ask the contestants to bring one song in relation to the heroes?

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