Rwandans will no longer be used and discarded by any world powerhouse, President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame has declared.
He asserted that no matter how daunting the challenges confronting the country are, Rwandans are willing to work hard to transform the nation.
Paul Kagame was addressing Rwandans, dignitaries, and well-wishers at a parade to celebrate 25 years after the genocide at the Amahoro Sports Stadium.
The colourful event witnessed a military parade from the Rwanda Patriotic Army, cultural display, and poetry. The 25th Anniversary Celebration was under the theme, “Kwibohora”, which literally means “Together We Prosper”.
“For decades and decades, Rwandans were treated as objects, to be used and discarded by anyone, especially the powerful. It won’t be anymore. Both the suffering of the refugees, as well as the oppression and poverty of those who remained here, had a similar origin,” the president recounted.
Mr. Kagame has therefore urged Rwandans to let the past remain in the past and forge ahead for a prosperous country.
“We all share the same aspirations to be free and to improve ourselves to the fullest extent. Our continent cannot remain dependent on what happens elsewhere. Our mindset should be to rely, first of all, on ourselves and on each other”.
Among the dignitaries that graced the occasion were the President of the Republic of Namibia, Hage Geingob and First Lady Monica Geingos; President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa; President of the Republic of Togo Faure Gnassingbé; and Vice President of Nigeria Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Below is the full speech of H.E Paul Kagame.
Good morning, and a warm welcome to all of you. We are here to observe the anniversary of Rwanda’s liberation.
I most especially thank our brothers and sisters, the Heads of State and First Ladies, who have made the journey to be with us today.
For three long months in 1994, our country’s survival was in doubt. A segment of the population was being hunted. More than a million people were murdered.
By July 4th, our forces had brought the killing to an end. Twenty-five seasons of mourning have passed since then.
And with time, it is important to recall that the Campaign against Genocide was not a military operation, in the conventional sense.
It was a rescue mission.
There was a battalion of our soldiers stationed at Parliament Building. They came under very heavy attack,completely cut off from the rest of our forces.Yet those troops managed to secure this very stadium where we are and the thousands of people sheltering here.
Around us today, are some of the men and women, who protected survivors and led them to safety. You have lived for our country, and those still alive continue to serve it with steadfast devotion. We thank you
Many other liberation fighters are here with us only in memory, because they made the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you.
Where did the humanity and heroism come from? The answer is simple. We believed in our right to dignity as Rwandans.
This conviction was the starting point of the liberation struggle. The aim was to build a Rwanda with equal rights for all. In other words, a republic, in the real sense.
For decades and decades, Rwandans were treated as objects, to be used and discarded by anyone, especially the powerful. It won’t be anymore.
Both the suffering of the refugees, as well as the oppression and poverty of those who remained here, had a similar origin.
Had we ever truly been united, at any point in our history? And yet our culture provides us with the tools for a successful society. Liberation was not about restoring the past, but creating something fundamentally new and better, for all Rwandans.
This fight was necessary and indeed unavoidable. If there ever been necessity for more fight, we will be there. The vision of unity and justice attracted broad support, because it resonates so strongly with the human spirit. But the proof was in actions, not words.
For the last twenty-five years, we have done our best to govern according to the liberation ideals that we fought for. The conduct of our forces is one example. Another is the bravery of those within Rwanda who opposed divisive politics. Or the energy that our people give every day to transforming the nation as we have seen in the past 25 years.
As a result, the impossible has become manageable, and even natural. Achievements like restoring trust and peace, or working together, for example. But we cannot take anything for granted. The force that stands before us, together with other actors in the struggle, have remained true to the cause. They are a representation of the spirit of this country.
We all share the same aspirations to be free and to improve ourselves to the fullest extent. Our continent cannot remain dependent on what happens elsewhere. Our mindset should be to rely, first of all, on ourselves and on each other.
It is worth repeating: Being Rwandan simply means being an African from a particular place.
In that spirit, I salute the forces from the East African Community partners here with us today, who have been conducting medical outreach exercises. Thank you
I hail the representatives from African political parties who are attending this ceremony. And I thank the military service chiefs who have come both from our region and beyond.
The logic of liberation is to turn bad things into good things. What Rwandans have achieved is undeniably real. But we must stay humble enough to know that our main challenge is sustainability.
We left the past behind us and embraced the future by coming together as a family. We must remain solid in defence of these values through each and every generation. We will not lose our way again.
By Zubaida Ismail | 3news.com | Rwanda