On Friday 26th October 2018, President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame attended Unity Club Dinner where four “Abarinzi b’Igihango” were awarded for their outstanding acts of courage and humanity displayed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
President Kagame began address by thanking “Abarinzi b’Igihango” for their acts of courage during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi
The recipients are known as Abarinzi b’Igihango, or Protectors of the Pact.
Recipients are Rwandans or foreigners who have shown unmatched deeds in promoting national unity and reconciliation at the climax of Rwanda’s darkest chapter, starting from the 1990 liberation struggle, the multiparty period, Genocide and post-genocide, resurgence war and during Gacaca courts.
This year’s recipients of Unity Award include a Catholic Bishop at Gikongoro Diocese, Célestin Hakizimana, who played a big role in saving 2,000 people during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Hakizimana, who was a priest at St Paul Catholic Chapel in Kigali, went out of his way to save the 2,000 Tutsi refugees from different parts of Kigali who had sought refugees at the facility located just a few metres from Downtown Kigali.
This was despite the fact that at the nearby St. Famille Church, hundreds of Tutsis were killed with direct participation of the priest here, Wenceslas Munyeshyaka.
Another recipient for the 2018 Unity Award is Dorothee Mukandanga, a former Director of Ecole des Sciences Infirmières de Kabgayi who saved 50 students from the marauding Interahamwe militia during the Genocide.
Mukandanga was killed in May, 1994 by the Interahamwe militiamen because of her continued attempts to “sabotage” the killing machine.
The other laureate is legendary Rwandan singer and composer Cyprien Rugamba, who played a big role in fostering unity and fought discriminatory behavior of the genocidal regime.
Rugamba and his wife Daphrosa Mukansanga Rugamba established a movement named “Communauté de l’Emmanuel” aimed at fostering unity and peace among Rwandans.
They got their award posthumously.
Their initiative angered the former government consequently leading to his extermination together with his wife and six children.
Rugamba’s family was killed by the former presidential guards on April 7, 1994.
The fourth recipient is the Association of the Students Genocide Survivors AERG which has over 41,000 members spread across institutions in the country.
The association has played a key role in restoring family values, dignity, unity and reconciliation among the Genocide survivors.
Speaking at the event President Paul Kagame reminded that none has gained from the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
He said that “Those who were awarded tonight demonstrated what it means to value the life of others. They put their life on the line to rescue fellow human beings.”
“Did anyone choose their gender? Or where they were born? Or the ethnicity they belong to? Our differences are not a result of our choices. The question is how do we live with and treat each other and what values do we uphold?” Kagame asked
“No one has the ability to choose who they are born as. But it is up to us to define our values, to treat each other as equals and to use our individual strengths to work together for our mutual benefit
“What is the meaning of being Rwandan? What is your answer when asked, so what if you are Rwandan? What are you contributing? If you have nothing to contribute, your identity becomes meaningless” President Kagame said
“Did anyone gain from the Genocide? What problem were they trying to solve? It is the equivalent of burning your own house down with you in it.” Kagame added
President Paul Kagame reminded that everyone has a right to their political thought.
However, he said “this does not mean that political ideas are exempt from being examined. It does not mean that harmful political thought cannot be held accountable for its consequences”
“Let us continue to remember that #NdiUmunyarwanda is the foundation of who we are and what we stand for” He concluded