By Peter Musabe
Every year, on February 1, Rwandans celebrate the National Heroes’ Day. It is a special day for Rwandans –it’s a day we reflect on acts of our national heroes and heroines and the values for which they are remembered.
As we celebrate those great people who did something great for this nation, I remember the heroes of our country, my mind is clear about something, and they sacrificed their yesterday for our today.
Their decision to sacrifice, for the known and unknown generations to come is not an ordinary decision, believe me, it is an extraordinary decision by extraordinary human beings. They gave their best owned property they owned-lives.
Heroism to Rwandans, is not a new value, it is strongly embedded in the Rwandan culture. Sacrifice for the nation was a shared value, a collective responsibility and an in- born task to every citizen.
This philosophy made our nation unique in the past and its traces are promising to make it further unique today and tomorrow. You will hear Ruganzu Ndori or Rwabugiri in wars of regaining and expanding their nation of Rwanda respectively. These fore fathers had a task, a responsibility and they made it,
These forefathers succeeded solely on the value of heroism. The Nation was built, strengthened and sustained for centuries. And Rwanda existed. Every nation, in its history has had its heroes in a way, but this piece concentrates on Rwandans.
But heroism conventionally is basically nationalistic and in any way along its way has historically offered survival and eminence of societies and nations across the globe.
When lives of many people become hopeless, through unfair treatment by the few individualistic, greedy, oppressive, exploitative and primitive individuals, it calls for Heroes to sacrifice their lives to avert the political malaise.
Despite the positive value of heroism, displayed by the founders of our nation, Rwanda experienced a period of betrayal, destruction, and distortion of the heroic philosophy of national existence that led the nation to total destruction in 1994 when the country faced the worst evil mankind can ever meet-Genocide. How did this happen?
Two things happened in our history that turned Rwandan historical trend upside down, a trend that culminated into the tragedy the nation witnessed in the last two decades now.
Advent of colonial administration in Africa was the spark of it all. Indeed the agenda was to destroy the existing social, political, and economic order to establish their own for their own interests.
This was well done and primitive successors of the colonial masters in their black skins but in white mind mentality, chose to continue the colonial agenda in their capacities as presidents and ministers and what a shame!
The most unfortunate and regrettable among the two is the Post- Colonial rule in Rwanda that should never be allowed to escape the tragedy a nation of Rwanda experienced.
Their divisive rule, which was the principle tool of the colonialists, to manage a colonial Africa in their sole interests was well consumed and perpetrated in the entire tenure. Rwanda has seen the worst of it all, oppression, exploitation, mass exodus and finally Genocide.
It reached a point when the order of injustice to Rwandans looked normal and was glorified by the then rule. People within the country accepted mistreatment, admitted unequal status in terms of ethic and regional balances in all spheres of life. To those denied their right to citizenship and lived outside their mother land had options of converting themselves, unwillingly, to other nations and nationalities and took refugeship as their own remaining resort.
Dehumanisation was in its progress to the innocents and their future was basically uncertain. The solution to this fundamental problem was not on the table of anybody else other than the victims who graduated into the Heroes.
The question was not in reserves and tables of the United Nations (UN), Organization of African Unity (OAU), and the host nations to millions of refugees or neither the oppressive Rwandan government.
At a certain point in time and in unfavorable circumstances, Heroes took charge and made irreversible decision that only required sacrifice to include the utmost sacrifice of life came up and was made. Multiple organizational activities were done over time and finally something happened.
On 1st October 1990, young men and women angrily and enthusiastically, ill armed but with unstoppable zeal marched to the border of their country to deal with their fundamental problem and willing to offer their all at any cost.
Indeed it happened, lives were lost, blood was shed but the nation was liberated. In the course of four years of struggle, the young men and women who took up the charge, refused to surrender their cause to their foes, tears, friends, fatigue, fates, forecasts fracturing experiences, flattering experiences, frustrations, fences, faces, outside forces but contained and consolidated their will to liberate themselves and their country.
Today 2017, a rough journey has been walked; sacrifices have been made but not fully attained, as the vision is beyond where we are today. The Liberation struggle continues and Heroes are still on high demand.
The hero’s role was not limited to sacrifices in combat engagements but rather extended further to the fulfillment of people’s needs and life continuity in pursuit of the attainment of all the historic denied rights to citizens.
Finally, Rwandans today have the moral duty of recognizing the Heroes of their nation who received this nation from which they enjoy in multiple ventures- business, education, home and abroad, peace, security, freedoms, dignity, respect and many others.
All these have not been achieved on the cost of any monetary value but on the cost of the sacrifice.
Our Heroes have gone and can go but their spirit shall blossom. “It it’s going to be, it’s up to me” by Robert Schuller the writer of the book “Tough times never last but tough people do” Long live our Heroes.