Rwanda: Patriotism Day - Call for Service Above Self

30 September 2020

October 1st of every year is a day when Rwandans celebrate Patriotism Day which coincides with the anniversary of the launch of the four-year liberation struggle in 1990.

It is a moment for all Rwandans to reminisce on the love for the nation, with each reflecting on what they can do in the service of their motherland.

But what does this particular day mean in the eyes of different Rwandans?

According to Ingrid Ingabire, a head girl at Lycee Notre Damme de Citeaux, the real meaning of patriotism is for someone to put the country above their personal interests.

"You can't be patriotic if all you think about is yourself. Me! Me! Me! We need to make sure everything we do benefits the whole society, not just one individual or group; to me that is patriotism," she said.

This was also echoed by Faustin Hakizayezu, a taxi-moto rider, who operates from Gisozi Sector in Gasabo District, pointing an accusing finger at some of those in public office, who normally make their interests above the people they serve.

"Almost on a daily basis, I hear in the news about officials who embezzle public funds that should be deployed to get people out of poverty. Isn't that selfishness? Patriotism to me means putting common interests above self," he told The New Times.

Desire Habarurema, who retails imported electronics, said that patriotism should also entail people prioritizing products that are made locally, over imported ones.

"We still have some people who prioritise foreign products at the expense of locally made ones, which he said affects the economy," said Habarurema.

He said that he was previously selling assorted locally made items but the attitude towards them left him with no option to start importing because he was not selling enough.

"But we need to understand that what is manufactured abroad and Made in Rwanda products are all products of quality, hence should compete equally," he said.

Other Rwandans The New Times spoke to said the day should serve to remind people that Rwanda is their motherland and not just a working space.

"A country is a place like no other in your life. If we really understood that nowhere can be like home, then we shall consider this day a special day", comments Mugeni Muadjuma, a real estate manager.

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