It is now 26 years since Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF)-Inkotanyi stopped the Genocide against the Tutsi, effectively liberating the country.
Every year, on July 4, the country marks Liberation Day – an opportunity to pay tribute to the gallant men and women who staked their all to liberate the country and free their people from decades of repression, forced exile and fascism.
At the time, Rwandans inside the country were denied their rights to equal opportunities like jobs, education among others.
Years of state-sponsored pogroms, harassment of a section of Rwandans and varied forms of discrimination would later culminate into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which claimed over one million lives.
Young people formed the core of the RPA forces that liberated the country on July 4.
Many of them paid the ultimate price, others suffered lifelong injuries.
Ahead of the 26th liberation anniversary The New Times set out to seek views of the youth – mostly the post-Genocide generation – on the lessons from liberation, or Kwibohora in Kinyarwanda, and how they relate with the same cause today.
Many revere the liberators and reckon that it is their responsibility to inherit the cause and take it forward.
‘I feel indebted’
“I always feel indebted whenever I recall that there were people who lost their lives and others became handicapped for our sake,” said Justice Rwamanywa, 23, a student at University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology in Electronics and Telecom Engineering Department.
He went on to say that: “Though I may not have to join the army because liberation is no longer primarily pursued through taking up arms, I want to assure our liberation heroes of my full commitment to my country and the ideals they stand for and to the preservation of they achieved for our country.
“I intend to use my skills and abilities in service of the liberation cause.”
Nineteen-year-old Yasipi Casmir Uwihirwe, a poet and 1st runner-up during Miss Rwanda 2018 edition, said she seeks to participate in liberation by upholding the ethos of the liberation struggle.
“My responsibility, which I think should be the responsibility of every Rwandan youth, is to always invest myself in helping to bring to reality what our liberators dreamed. They sacrificed their lives for the sake of this nation and it’s now up to us, young people, to take up the mantle.”
“But for us to measure up, we need to educate ourselves on the vision of our country and be able to figure out what our own contribution should be, at the individual level,” she added.
Mwesigye Thomas, 24, a student at Mount Kenya University Rwanda, urged fellow youth to embrace unity if they are to sustain what the country has achieved over the last 26 years and even accomplish more.
“One of the lessons we learn from the liberation struggle is that RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front – the current governing party that birthed the Rwanda Patriotic Army back in the day) had a clear vision from the onset, and they pursued it with a common sense of purpose and commitment to the cause.”
“My generation needs to learn from the service and sacrifices of the older generations to ensure that Rwanda continues on the right path,” he observed.
It is because of this that, in 2019, Mwesigye started an NGO, Dreams Rising Afrika (DRA) that brings together academics and leadership enthusiasts from different varsities in Rwanda, with the view to brainstorming and implementing solutions and development-oriented ideas.
“This is one of the small ways I am contributing,” he told The New Times. “I am sure each of us can play a role in their own way.”Follow lavie250