Prince Louis Rwagasore Day
Prince Louis Rwagasore Day is a public holiday that is observed annually on the 13th of October. However, if that date happens to fall on a weekend, then the holiday is moved to the following Monday so that everyone has a chance at an extra day off.
Since it is a public holiday, it is also a day when schools, many businesses, and all non-essential government buildings are closed. The purpose of this holiday is to commemorate the life of Prince Louis Rwagasore—a person who is considered to be one of Burundi’s national heroes. Unfortunately, he was assassinated on this date in 1961.
The History of Prince Louis Rwagasore Day
Prince Louis Rwagasore was born to King Mwambutsa IV on January 10, 1932. He would grow up to be active in nationalist movements and in campaigning for independence from Belgium. Belgium was able to maintain control of the region by playing on ethnic groups’ dislike for one another and keeping them fighting against each other.
The Prince was able to bypass many of these ethnic tensions when he decided to marry a Hutu woman. He became extremely popular, and by the elections in 1961 before independence, he won 80% of the vote.
This made him Prime Minister-elect. On October 13, 1961, he was assassinated in a hotel restaurant. It is believed by some that his assassination was sponsored by a group that sided with the Belgian government.
Observing Prince Louis Rwagasore Day
On this holiday, the image of Rwagasore can be seen on many buildings, on publicly displayed portraits, and on flags. It is a day off for the general public, so people often use this holiday to do the things that they are incapable of doing throughout the year. This includes enjoying a celebratory dinner with friends and loved ones, going on a trip, or simply enjoying the day as a rest day.