Eighten years ago, a great Rwandan, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed “Our Mother Land” Proclamation.
This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Rwandese who had been seared in the flames of withering discrimination, injustice, tribalism, and sectarianism.
This ended the long night of their suffering as refugees and on 1 Oct 1990, they triumphantly entered Rwanda to liberate their motherland. And every single Rwandan is now living his dream
Born on 10th April 1957 in Rwanda and in 1959 fled to Uganda as a refugee due to civil conflicts at home. At a tender age of 19 in 1976, he went to Tanzania and joined the Front for National Salvation, a rebel group headed by Yoweri Museveni the brother of his friend Salim Saleh.
When Museveni launched a guerrilla war against the then Obote regime, Rwigyema was one of the members of the then Popular Resistance Army, which later became the National Resistance Movement/Army.
Rwigyema was one of the 27 men alongside President Paul Kagame who attacked Kabamba Military School on February 6th 1981, which marked the start of the NRA bush war.
As we celebrate our Liberation Day, it’s good to know that Rwigyema’s life is a story of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph.
When the NRM took control of Kampala in 1986, Fred Rwigyema served as a deputy minister of Defense in Uganda. He held the rank of Major General in the NRA; all along in mind, he was hatching the idea of liberating his motherland.
Fred Rwigyema became involved in the activities of the Rwandan Alliance for National Unity which later became RPF; Rwigyema later took over the leadership of the RPF/Inkotanyi and on October 1st 1990, led an armed invasion into Rwanda.
It’s however unfortunate to believe that on the second day of the liberation struggle, the young and courageous Rwigyema met his untimely demise.
On this glorious and historic day, we should not forget that our hero lived a life full of sympathy, love and compassion for others.
Rwigyema, the ‘Commandant’ as he was normally called by his comrades, was an icon and a visible force of liberation who was a true revolutionary.
It’s no wonder that he has been compared with Ernesto Che Guevara, Bob Marley, Patrice Lumumba and other great 20th century icons.
Rwigyema therefore stands, as no other living Rwandan figure does, for the triumph of dignity and hope over despair and hatred, of self-discipline and love over persecution and evil.
On this wonderful day, it’s fundamental therefore to praise the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) that put an end to the 1994 Genocide and thereafter forming the government of national unity that has Rwanda turning into a modern, strong and united nation, proud of its fundamental values, politically stable and without discrimination amongst its citizens.
All this indicates the core objective of the liberation war, to bring justice, equality, unity, democracy, fraternity and above all peace and development is alive today.
While remembering this extraordinary day in our history, let reverence for our liberation, freedom, laws, rights, togetherness, reconciliation, sovereignty and self reliance among others be breathed by every Rwandese mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap—let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in primers, spelling books, and in almanacs;--let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice.
And, in short, let it become the political religion of our country; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions recognize the tremendous work of our liberators today.
As our government presents an ambitious plan to raise the people of Rwanda out of poverty and transform the country’s socio- economic and political fabric into a middle-income economy.
This day is dedicated to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we should be free from all the evils that befell our beloved nation.
Long live our Liberators, Long live Rwigyema, Long live Rwanda.
The writer is the labour market information system specialist for WDA.