Today we rejoice and commemorate our nationwide heroes. The women and men who, by way of their selfless acts, laid the inspiration for the country we now call residence.
We rejoice the lives of the thousands of young women and men who died liberating this country from genocide and sectarianism.
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We rejoice Maj Gen Fred Rwigema, who died main his troops in battle. We remember King Mutara III Rudahigwa, Félicité Niyitegeka, Michel Rwagasana, Agathe Uwiringiyimana and the courageous younger Nyange School students who stared death proper in the eyes and refused to blink or back down from their belief in a united Rwandan people.
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On this day, we mustn’t overlook folks like the late Dr. Paul Farmer, Howard Buffett, Dafroza Ghautier and the 2 Ghanaian UNAMIR commanders, Maj. Gen. (Rtd) Joseph Narh Adinkra and Maj. Gen. Henry Kwame Anyidoho, who refused to depart 1000’s of harmless civilians defenseless in the face of forces out to annihilate them.
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I consider that each one these women and men, Rwandans and friends of Rwanda, have an affidavit to share with the most recent era of younger folks. This age bracket, between 5-25 years of age, might be the one generation in our nation’s historical past, if I’m not mistaken, that has loved over 20 years of relative peace, stability and development. And whereas it is my perception that this peace and improvement is directly linked to the acts of the nationwide heroes, I additionally consider that we, as a society, have not done enough to deliver our nationwide heroes to life for this very technology.
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Yes, we commemorate these heroes every year with a national holiday and a ceremony led by the President. But I fervently imagine that we have not even begun to scratch the surface on the story telling factor of commemoration and remembrance. And it is not as if we don’t know tips on how to do it. All we have to do is take a leaf out of the American book. I do not think anybody would argue that they’re the most effective on the earth at harnessing storytelling and myth-creating for the nationwide ‘good’.
The Americans have taken storytelling to a level that we must aspire to. The majority of the world (and many younger Americans I bet) learnt about US civil rights leader, Malcolm X, not from a e-book however rather an autobiographical film about him that starred Denzel Washington. The identical could probably be stated about Fred Hampton, the younger Black Panther leader killed by the Chicago Police, whose story is being kept alive through films similar to ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ starring Daniel Kaluuya.
Hollywood has kept the memories of World War I and II, the Civil Rights Movement, their battle for independence from the British and different seminal moments in American history alive by telling the tales of their nationwide heroes via the medium of tv and cinema. In addition to Hollywood, writers, artists, graphic designers and cartoonists have used their talents to bring to life American heroes as nicely.
This has not only stored the memories of the heroes – some who died over a century in the past – alive, it has additionally ingrained in younger American minds a respect for, and willingness, to commit acts of heroism as nicely. Acts of heroism, in their psyche, have turn into almost as American as apple pie.
What I discover most attention-grabbing is just how much cash and sources the US authorities has spent on this sort of storytelling. According to public documents, between 2008 and 2021, it spent $ 1.2 billion on movie production and distribution. If you look at the numbers in additional detail, you will discover out that the Department of Defense (the military) spent probably the most, $721 million in whole. Their area agency, NASA, was the second largest spender, at $124 million. With all this money spent it is little wonder that their youngsters need to grow up and turn into soldiers and astronauts. It is on this vein that I name upon our own Ministries of Defense, Education as nicely as National Unity to create well-funded packages to fund the humanities. And most especially tv and cinema.
The visible medium that is cinematography is, in my humble opinion, the best storytelling tool on the earth. Far more practical than radio and even the written phrase. We only have to look at the impact of one of the best produced film on the battle for Kigali, ‘The 600: The Soldiers’ Story’. This movie, launched in 2019, brought to life the sacrifices that were made by the 600 RPA soldiers that were holed up in the CND building (now Parliament). I remember watching the movie and feeling so very pleased with those younger men. Not only did I feel happy with them, however I felt represented by them. This movie not solely further cemented my personal bond with the uniformed males of then, but additionally the uniformed women and men of at present.
This kind of bond is what well-funded art can do. And that’s what our nationwide heroes deserve. To be introduced back to life once once more. We need their stories advised and retold again and again. Not simply to celebrate them, which they so richly deserve, but to enrich ourselves as properly.
The writer is a socio-political commentator