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Five lessons that young people can learn from national heroes

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Every February 1, Rwanda celebrates Heroes Day. It serves as an opportunity to discuss the history and bravery that characterized the heroes.

Currently, Rwandan heroes are classified in three categories; Imanzi, Imena, and Ingenzi.

The Imanzi category is the highest category. Heroes who have performed exceptional deeds, including; sacrificing their lives for the country. This includes heroes who are dead, including the Unknown Soldier and Maj. Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigema.

The Imena category is composed of heroes who have demonstrated exemplary conduct. They include Michel Rwagasana, Agatha Uwiringiyimana, Niyigeka Felecité, Nyange Students and King Mutara III Rudahigwa.

The latter is followed by Ingenzi but no hero was classified in this category.
As Rwanda prepares to celebrate the 29th National Heroes Day, the youth and Rwandans are encouraged to continue to do brave deeds and embrace patriotism.

A hero is usually a person who pursues what he has decided to achieve, which results in an outstanding deed that is beneficial to others, does it with integrity and dedication and avoids cowardice in his actions without being swayed by anything.

Rwandans of whom the youth constitute the majority, are often asked to portray brave deeds, and are sometimes asked to be accompanied on the journey by adults.

When you look back at the heroes whose sacrifices Rwanda is celebrating today, the same actions and values can be emulated today and produce good results.

Developing resilience

One of the values that characterized the heroes of Rwanda, from the unknown soldier to the children of Nyange, is a strong heart, which led some to sacrifice their lives.

As Maj. Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigema showed great courage at the highest level throughout his life. Even though he knew the severity of the war, he was not afraid to lead the most difficult struggle to liberate Rwanda.

It would be difficult to understand how the students were killed together after resisting to separate when they were and insisting that they were all Rwandans rather than diverse ethnic groups.

This exhibited their strong and sincere hearts that enabled them to fight for the unity of Rwandans, accepting to be killed together, even though there are those whom God has saved.

Rwagasana Michel also demonstrated a brave heart after deciding to come to Rwanda to confront the Belgian government, which had great power and little desire to support independence.


Heroism values usually include patriotism, characterized by prioritizing and fighting for the sovereignty, development, and pride of the country without forgetting the unity of its inhabitants.

The common denominator of the national heroes that Rwanda celebrates today is patriotism, to the point of sacrificing their lives while wishing for the good of the country and the common good.

Fight for justice

All the acts of bravery accomplished were to fight against injustice and fight for justice.

During his reign, King Mutara III Rudahigwa fought for all Rwandans to have access to justice and started a program to deliver just cases.

Agatha Uwiringiyimana, who was the Prime Minister, dared to stand against the tyranny against discrimination, and injustice that was being done. She started fighting this injustice long ago when she was still the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.

This daring resulted in her death by the forces of President Habyarimana.
Uwiringiyimana is one of the founders of the FAWE organization, which aims to promote the education of African women.

Félécité Niyitegeka who was born to Col. Alphonse Nzungize was killed in Rubavu District in a camp where many people were still fleeing and hoping for rescue.

Her elder brother asked her to leave so they could kill the people, and she refused.

In the message Niyitegeka wrote to him, she said: “My dear brother, thank you for trying to save me. But instead of saving my life, without those I care about, 43 people I choose to die with. Pray that we get to God and my goodbye to my mother and sibling.”

This demonstrated dedication and the fight for justice for all as it was her responsibility to welcome these people into the center and pray with them.

Promoting Rwandans’ unity

Considering the death of some of the students from Nyange who have died, this reinforces the principle of ‘Ndi umunyarwanda’.

In 1997, when intruders attacked the Nyange school, they entered the senior sixth class, and one of the members of the attack asked the students to separate themselves from the Hutus and go their way with the Tutsis.

To reinforce their unity, they all claimed to be Rwandans. As a result, he started shooting indiscriminately. Some were lying on the floor in the middle of the seats, but they were still being shot at. Others were saved by God’s grace.

Six students were killed at the school, 40 others are still alive, and one died in 2001.

These students demonstrated their commitment by agreeing to sacrifice their lives instead of discriminating.

This willingness to sacrifice is appropriate for Rwandans as an example of love, fighting divisions, and fighting for human rights.

Fight for Truth

Being characterized by truth, fighting for it, and not being afraid of sacrificing for it, is the real reason to achieve what you are fighting for.

The heroes Rwanda celebrates in the three categories fought for the truth as the main reason to achieve what they fought for.

Fred Gisa Rwigema was sincere throughout his life and characterized by selflessness to the point of losing his life in the fight to liberate the country.

What the youth and Rwandans, in general, learn from these heroes is very valuable in developing and building the country.

To make a person a hero, the values that characterize him are evaluated, including having a strong heart, patriotism, selflessness, wisdom, fame in bravery, being an example, being truthful, being polite, and being humane.

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