Commemorating Rwanda’s National Heroes Day: A tribute to sacrifice and patriotism

By Esther Muhozi
On 1 February 2024 at 06:34

Every year on February 1, Rwanda comes together to celebrate National Heroes Day, a momentous occasion dedicated to honoring individuals who exemplified unwavering patriotism and sacrificed for the greater good of the nation.

The day serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience and strength embedded in the country’s history, particularly during the Liberation Struggle that ended in 1994.

Categories of heroes

Rwandan National Heroes are classified into three distinct categories, each representing a unique level of sacrifice and significance. These categories, Imanzi, Imena, and Ingenzi, pay tribute to individuals who played pivotal roles in shaping the destiny of Rwanda.


At the pinnacle of heroism lies the Imanzi category, reserved for those who demonstrated outstanding achievements characterized by supreme sacrifice. Maj. Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigema stands tall in this category, symbolizing the epitome of bravery and dedication.

The Unknown Soldier, an enigmatic figure, represents all the fallen soldiers who gave their lives during the Liberation Struggle. The tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located at the National Heroes’ Mausoleum in Remera, serves as a solemn tribute to those whose remains could not be identified.


In the second category, Imena, we find heroes who stand shoulder to shoulder with those in Imanzi, recognized for their extraordinary acts that echo with supreme sacrifice, high importance, and exemplary service. King Mutara Rudahigwa III, Michel Rwagasana, Agatha Uwiringiyimana, Felicite Niyitegeka, and the courageous students of Nyange Secondary School are all celebrated for their remarkable contributions to Rwanda.


The third category, Ingenzi, pays homage to individuals whose exceptional ideas and achievements, characterized by supreme sacrifice and great importance, have left an indelible mark on the nation. These heroes stand as beacons of inspiration for their outstanding contributions to the well-being of the country.

As Rwanda commemorates National Heroes Day on February 1, it is a time not only to reflect on the sacrifices made by these extraordinary individuals but also to draw inspiration from their unwavering commitment to the nation.

The categories of Imanzi, Imena, and Ingenzi provide a framework for understanding and appreciating the diverse acts of heroism that have shaped Rwanda’s rich history. Through this commemoration, the nation continues to honor the legacy of its heroes, ensuring that their stories inspire generations to come.

A monument at the entrance of Rwanda's parliament depicting the bravery of RPA soldiers during the liberation war.