Rwandans Celebrate the Birthday of President Juvenal Habyarimana and Remember Diane Rwigara and Victoire Ingabire on International Women's Day

Juvenal Habyarimana, Victoire Ingabire, Diane Rwigara

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Today, March 8, 2018, Rwandans celebrate two events: the birthday of Juvénal Habyarimana, the 2nd President of the Republic of Rwanda and the International Women's Day.

Juvénal Habyarimana was born on March 8, 1937 in Gisenyi, Ruanda-Urundi, then a German colony. His father was a Catholic catechist. After receiving a primary education, he attended the College of Saint Paul in Bukavu, Belgian Congo, where he graduated with a degree in mathematics and humanities. In 1958 he enrolled in the University of Lovanium's medical school in Léopoldville. During the 1959 Rwandan revolution, Juvenal Habyarimana was called back to Rwanda and enrolled in the Military Academy located in the Capital Kigali. A brilliant student, he graduated with highest honors in 1961, and was appointed the deputy commander of the military forces in Rwanda, then still under the overall command of a Belgian officer. An able and well liked military officer, in 1963, he was appointed the overall commander of Rwandan Armed Forces. In 1965, he was appointed Minister of the Defense and Police.

On July 5, 1973, he became the 2nd President of the Republic of Rwanda. He served from 1973 until 1994. On April 6, 1994, he was killed when his airplane was shot down close to Kigali International Airport, by the suspected assassins from the then Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels.

Rwandans and international observers credit Habyarimana with developing the country as a whole, during his 21 years of presidency through community services, known as Umuganda, building paved roads crossing the country and linking major cities and border posts, improving the healthcare system, extending the education system and promoting investments.

The second event is International Women's Day. At this moment, Rwandans honor women who, through courage, resilience, intelligence and wits have become role models for others. Among these women are those who have struggled for the rights of others, and ofter payed a heavy price. Two Rwandan women in particular are remembered. The two courageous and selfless women dared to challenge the Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame, in presidential elections and to speak up against repression, corruption, and dictatorship. For that act alone, they have been imprisoned.

The two women are: Diane Rwigara (see here - Diane Rwigara - AfroAmerica Network Black Woman of 2017 ) and Victoire Ingabire (see here: Victoire Ingabire - AfroAmerica Network Black Woman of 2010). They both are held in Rwandan notorious prisons.