Kigali — Today, Rwanda marked Heroes Day for the 20th time at the National Heroes Mausoleum in Kigali. Across the country, Rwandans met in their villages to reflect on the contributions of national heroes as well discussions around this year's theme, Ndi Umunyarwanda: Essence of Heroism.
Earlier in the day, President Paul Kagame laid a wreath in memoriam of all heroes, followed by the representative of the Diplomatic Corps, Uganda Ambassador to Rwanda, Richard Kabonero.
Speaking on the importance of this day, Kamali Karegesa, Executive Secretary of Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decoration said remembering our national heroes inspired Rwandans to espouse similar values.
"It is important to honour our heroes, those who put the lives of others above their own. They showed us that one must put being Rwandan above everything else, and be ready to even lay down your life for the ideal," said Mr. Karegesa.
Rwanda's heroes include Major General Fred Gisa Rwigema and the 'Unknown Soldier'. They represent all the soldiers who gave their lives during the liberation struggle of 1990-1994. Both rest in the Imanzi category.
Those in the second category, Imena, include King Mutara III Rudahigwa, Michel Rwagasana, Agathe Uwiringiyimana, Felicite Niyitegeka and the Nyange students.
On the night of 18 March, 1997, three years after the genocide had been stopped, the remnants of the perpetrators of the genocide, then known by their local name Abacengenzi, attacked the Nyange school, killing innocent students indiscriminately after they refused to separate into Hutu and Tutsi. Had they separated, the Tutsi students would have been killed.
The students stood together and boldly told the attackers that they were all Rwandans and none of them deserved to die. The attackers threw grenades and shot the students with six dying.
"As we remember these theories, we must reflect on their example, especially young people, and think on how we can contribute to building the Rwandan spirit," Karegesa said.