In the Media

Thanksgiving : Clerics testify on national unity

L-R : Venantie Tugireyezu, the Minister in the Office of the President, Francis Kaboneka, the Local Government Minister and Seraphine Mukantabana, the Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, at the Rwanda Shima Imana event held at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, yesterday. (Doreen Umutesi)

Clerics from various churches took to the pulpit to testify on the unprecedented national peace and unity during the annual national Thanksgiving event commonly known as “Rwanda Shima Imana.”

The fourth annual Thanksgiving crusade took place yesterday at the Amahoro stadium in Kigali under the theme : “Rwanda shine forth your light to the nations.”

Rwanda Shima Imana attracted thousands of people.

Speaking at the event, Apostle Paul Gitwaza of Zion Temple, the preacher of the day, said Rwanda’s current peace and unity among nationals is the kind of light to be shared with the rest of the nations.

“From a tragic history which culminated into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, mass exodus and all the terrible events including ethnic discrimination, injustices to name but a few, Rwanda enjoys unprecedented peace and security,”Gitwaza said.

Apostle Dr Paul Gitwaza preaches at the event.

“The unity among Rwandans is unbelievable ; no one ever anticipated that a Genocide perpetrator would live in harmony with a genocide survivor. We have every reason to thank God on such a day.”

Gitwaza’s comments were echoed by Rev. Elie Ugirimbabazi, who said he was once convicted of Genocide crimes on false grounds and served two years in 1930 Prison, before he was set free.

Rwandans sing along praise and worship songs.

“Had it not been for the good governance that sought justice and unity of all Rwandans I would have been subjected to a death penalty as per my sentence (then when the death penalty was still in law books). I thank God for justice in the country. 21 years ago, there was no justice in the country and now no one is above the law, unlike in previous leaderships we had in the country,” said Ugirimbabazi.

Dr Onesphore Rwaje, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, explains the genesis of Rwanda Shima Imana.

Speaking at the event, Venantie Tugireyezu, the minister in the Office of the President, said thanking God is a sign of humbleness, uniqueness which encourages God to continue blessing the country.

Tugireyezu added that thanksgiving should also be the time for believers and the country in general to examine their deeds and improve where required.

A happy Christian entertains the crowd at Rwanda Shima Imana.

“Rwanda has every reason to thank God ; we have security and peace, we are now able to send our troops in peace keeping operations, we have food security and are able to have surplus for export,” she said.

“However, this should also be the time to renew our commitments in serving our community better in our respective capacities,” she said.

The minister challenged the organisers of the Rwanda Thanksgiving to take it to grassroots level so that more people benefit.

Denis Rurangwa gives a testimony at Rwanda Shima Imana.

Tugireyezu added that the association between government and church is the basis of good practices where God chips in to bless the country.

Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege, the chairperson of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Rwanda, empahised that all churches serve the same God which should be the major uniting factor.

Rwanda Shima Imana was characterised with reading scriptures from the bible.

“Let’s enjoy what we have as Christians. Rwanda Shima Imana should remind us the foundation of our unity, a better church and a better nation,” he said.

Rwanda Shima Imana attracted Rwandans from all walks of life. (All photos by Doreen Umutesi)

Rwanda Shima Imana was inaugurated in 2012. It is organised by the Christian Churches in Rwanda through Rwanda Purpose Driven Ministries’ P.E.A.C.E Plan in partnership with Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church.

Rwanda, let your light shine, shine for all Nations.