As Rwanda prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Liberation Day, the day on which citizens embarked on a long journey to transform the country when the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was halted by Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) – Inkotanyi, the youth have been placed at the forefront of this enduring journey.
The youth constitute 70 per cent of the country’s population, according to the Minister for Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi.
On Friday, the Ministry of Youth, in collaborating with the National Youth Council and other stakeholders, launched a campaign dubbed “Igihango cy’Urungano” as part of efforts to educate young people about the country’s history.
Mbabazi challenged the youth to master the country’s history and ignore detractors.
She was speaking at the National Liberation Museum, best known as “Umurindi w’ Intwari”.
The museum tells the story of the liberation struggle that was initiated by RPF-Inkotanyi and ended on July 4, 994.
The museum is located in the northern district of Gicumbi, some 80 kilometres away from the capital Kigali.
“We are in this specific place because it is the source of liberation, an area in which President Paul Kagame, then the Chairman of the (Rwanda Patriotic Army) High Command, resided during the war,” Mbabazi told the youth.
“I take this opportunity to challenge the youth to know their true history, in this way they will be able to fight back all those people who still have genocide ideology” she noted.
She added that in order to sustain what has been achieved the young people need to liberate themselves from alcohol and drug abuse, unwanted pregnancies, poverty and, most especially genocide ideology that resulted into the death of more than a million innocent people.
Col. Sam Baguma, the Rwanda Defence Force Commander in Gicumbi District, narrated the liberation story to the youth and other young pan-Africanists from different countries.
He noted that nothing can be achieved without unity.
“The unity that we showed during the liberation war is the greatest ingredient to our success, and I commend all young people who are here to carry on the same values to build an even better nation, now that you even have no excuse because we laid a foundation”
Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, the Governor of Northern Province, encouraged the youth to work hard in order to realise their full potential.
“What needs to be done is first acknowledging the selfless efforts that were made in order to liberate this country, then as youth do not let such achievements stagnate,” he said.
Jean-Damascène Bizimana, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), said that majority of the people involved in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi were youth.
“There was poor governance that influenced young people such as you to engage in acts that cost a lot of innocent lives. Today, the country’s politics greatly emphasises the role of the youth because they have believed in you.”
Therefore, he said, “young people should work hard to get the nation to the next level of development.”