The Minister for Defence, James Kabarebe, has urged the Rwandan youth to protect and consolidate the various achievements registered in the country following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
He also challenged the country’s youth to do more to continue building a prosperous country.
He was speaking during a commemoration event held Friday in honour of the youths killed during the Genocide in which over a million people were slaughtered.
The event, held at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village in Nyarugenge, drew thousands of youths from around the district.
“The youth played a big part in the liberation struggle led by Rwanda Patriotic Army,” he said in reference to the campaign to stop the Genocide by the RPF military wing, RPA.
The Defence minister said the youth also played a significant role in the resultant national reconstruction and development effort. “You have to strive to work hard to bequeath a prosperous and peaceful country to the generations to come.”
He narrated to the youth how the Genocide was planned and executed by the former government forces (ex-FAR), politicians and the elite civilians who used a divisive and toxic genocide ideology.
Kabarebe called for unity of purpose among the Rwandan youth irrespective of their background, saying that nothing can defeat a united and determined people.
“After liberating the country, our army did not at any point face any problem pertaining to discrimination, much as we were diverse in composition. Even when we were integrated with the defeated army, we remained united and focused on rebuilding the country,” he said.
Minister Kabarebe called on the youth to use all channels of communication to fight those who still spread genocide ideology to ensure that genocide never happens in Rwanda again and help prevent it anywhere else in the world as well.
According to Diogène Bideri, the Principal Legal Advisor at the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG), 53.7 per cent of Genocide victims were young people under 24 years old.
“Today, it is your chance to play a role in building the nation, now that we have a solid foundation on which to build. You are the doctors to heal the wounds left by the Genocide against the Tutsi and be the teachers to preach against the spread of the genocide ideology,” he said.
Theophile Nyirumulinga, a Genocide survivor from Nyanza District, shared his experience during the tragedy 24 years ago.
“I was in primary two when Genocide happened. In my area, killings started on April 24, 1994. We spent many days in the bush and trenches hiding until we were discovered by the militia and that is how we disintegrated,” he recalled.
“In that attack, I was left severely wounded on the head where I had been hacked with a machete and was left unconscious.”
For many years Nyirumulinga suffered from recurrent headache as a result of the scar but he continued to push himself to complete his education.
“RPF-Inkotanyi soldiers did not only stop the Genocide and rescue us, but, in my case, they also operated on me after many doctors had failed and I am now in a far better shape,” he said.
He added: “I came here today to share my testimony. In fact, I just defended my dissertation this morning at INILAK (a Kigali based private varsity). I have to work hard to lead a positive life and help develop my country; I owe it to my loved ones who lost their lives during the Genocide.”