Rwanda marked the 26th Liberation Anniversary on Saturday, July 4, with the launch of a series of multibillion projects in Nyagatare District designed to help change the socioeconomic conditions of thousands of residents. They included a new model settlement, a health post, a school with smart classrooms, a pre-school facility, roads, construction of a liberation tourism trail, among others. Similar projects were also unveiled in another seven districts around the country, a trend that has defined celebration of this historic event over the last five years. These projects are the result of a multisectoral effort spearheaded by the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) and this year’s anniversary was marked under the theme, “Kwibohora Twubaka u Rwanda Twifuza, Kinyarwanda for ‘Liberation Through Building the Rwanda We Want’. Similar activities were to continue for a seven-day period, dubbed ‘Liberation Week’. It’s in that context that several youths under the Pan-African Rwandan Chapter shared their views and lessons from the country’s Liberation Struggle.
Michael Nyarwaya Shyaka, 39, Deputy Managing Director, Pan African Logistics, and PAM-Rwanda Youth Commissioner
Our history shows us that no one will come to your rescue. After the failure of the international community to restore peace and harmony in Rwanda, it became the sole responsibility of RPF/RPA (Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army) to take up arms and liberate our country and also stop the Genocide against Tutsi in 1994.
As we mark 26 years after the Liberation Struggle, we can all witness tremendous progress in all spheres of the country, such as in education, infrastructure, technology, agriculture and international relations. Today, we are looking forward to Vision 2050 (for Rwanda) and Agenda 2063 as far as African Union is concerned. We are so grateful to President Paul Kagame for his exceptional leadership.
Ephrem Imanirareba, 34, Economic Specialist, International Union for Conservation of Nature
Liberation anniversary gives us an opportunity to reflect on our bad history, but also celebrating what we’ve been able to achieve as a country and to show our appreciation for the sacrifices, selflessness and patriotism that characterised the heroes we celebrate this week. But it shouldn’t stop there, rather we should also seek to learn from all that. In particular, the youth have a responsibility to participate in the progress and sustainability of the country by protecting and consolidating what has been achieved.
Jean Marie Nsabimana, 30, a social, political and administrative scientist.
We should all know that the future is prepared early and for us we can do that, first by drawing lessons from our country’s history, and then do everything possible to ensure that we never slide back into the same problems that nearly destroyed our country.
Innocent Iradukunda, 26, instructor, IPRC-Kigali.
We can only be so deeply appreciative to the RPF-Inkotanyi liberators, some of whom lost their lives for the love of this nation. The theme of this year’s liberation calls us to have the right skills and capacity that align with our values and culture, and allow us to develop our country even faster. To my fellow youth, we have to carry the mantle for the bright future of our nation.
Shallon Bagwaneza, 23, a student.
As we celebrate the 26th Liberation Day, history shows us that Rwandans used to live in turbulent situations, without political stability and with no vision. Today, we are privileged to grow up in a country with political stability, and where we enjoy freedom of speech, no issues of refugees, our dignity as Rwandans has been fully restored by the RPF/A. But while we continue to celebrate the liberation milestones and achievements we must be mindful of where we are coming from and where we are headed for.
Eric Shyaka, 26, Employee with RwandAir.
As we celebrate our 26th Liberation Day, I want to thank RPF/A for sacrificing their lives for the common good. Many of us have had the opportunity to study on government sponsorships, and we are seen as a promising generation because of the good governance brought about by the Liberation Struggle.
However, our generation is required to draw valuable lessons from the Liberation struggle such as the value of sacrifice and hard work in order to achieve great things in the future. It’s therefore our responsibility, as the youth, to make good use to these opportunities accorded to us.
Clarisse Uwanyirigira, 33, Executive Secretary, Kanyinya Sector and Vice Commissioner PAM-Youth
I thank the RPF/A for their exemplary efforts and sacrifices in liberating our country. Their values of patriotism, resilience, selflessness and thinking big are a heritage we the young will inherit and build on. We promise to never give up on those values as we continue to protect what has been achieved towards sustainable development.
Merci Umwali, 31
The Liberation Struggle didn't end with the silencing of guns, but it proceeded by nursing our wounds and making ourselves whole again. Children returned to school, rule of law was restored and hope for the future rekindled.
We have a big assignment of fighting anything that might take Rwandans back in our tragic history. That must be our contribution as the youth, there is no better gift we can give to the heroes who liberated us.
Epiphanie Tuyisenge, 22, Student, University of Rwanda
I want to start off by thanking RPF/A because they did everything possible to liberate our country and gave every Rwandan freedom. It's now 26 years after the Liberation Struggle and I deeply appreciate President Paul Kagame for taking the lead and proving to the youth that everything is possible with hard work and focus.
The youth, therefore, must sustain the good progress we’ve witnessed since, by steering clear of destructive tendencies and always striving to protect what has been achieved.
Clarisse Imaniriho, 25, Youth Representative in Parliament
We, the youth, are happy and grateful for great achievements in our country, thanks to the RPF/A who liberated our country. To the youth, I wish to tell you that liberation is a continuous journey, so far we are doing well as a country but we are required to utilise our strength, intellectual capacity, wisdom and other opportunities we’ve been afforded to build our nation as #Inkomezamihigo (those who sustain progress).
Davis Gatabazi, 28, Pharmacist, Med Point Pharmacy-Kicukiro.
I am forever grateful to RPF and RPA-Inkotanyi and mostly President Kagame for the extraordinary leadership, many lives were lost so that we can get peace and freedom in our country.
As youth, we have to embrace discipline, work hard, think outside the box because this is what has made our country recover and develop so fast, as we can all see. Its’ everyone's responsibility to protect and preserve what has been achieved while we continue to register more success as a country.
Janet Akimana, 26, Employee, Rwanda Reform Commission
The Inkotanyi were so young but brave and focused, with a big vision. Some lost their lives so we could live and have a country we are proud of. It's our role to carry on the mantle by working tirelessly on what can bring Rwanda to the best of standards.