Every year on 4th July, we celebrate liberation day in Rwanda but this date 26 years ago, registered a paradigm shift for Rwanda and Rwandans who lived both in and outside the country.
To those who lived inside the country, liberation was long waited for-they were perpetually kept poor, ignorant, divided on ethnic and regional lines, regularly oppressed and terminated at any opportunity.
They were made to feel outcast, and inadequate about themselves, no wonder Genocide was the agenda; many to be killed and others prepared to be unleashed on victims! To those who lived outside the country, scattered and wandering all over in the refugee camps of the region, they lived at the mercies of their host countries.
This date doesn’t only remind us of a victory over a tyranny government; a regime that oppressed and murdered the people it was supposed to protect but also a strong reminder that Blood bought Liberty, and Rwandans have no luxury of taking peace and security for granted.
The selfless Inkotanyi youth group with their undying spirit decisively laid down their youthful life in exchange for the liberation of their Country- the price paid and the sacrifice offered was the utmost, a pact that will forever hold the living accountable.
To Rwandans, 4th July is a date that defined the rebirth of their dignity and self-worth, an inclusive society instilled in with the spirit of oneness and national unity free from ethnic segregation and sectarianism-Ndi Umunyarwanda was born.
To the refugees coming back home, and to the dying Rwandans in the country being given life back, liberation day granted all Rwandans a sense of living a worthy and dignified life yet a right to nationality and belonging.
Deeply observing, liberation day did not only disarm the reign of terror and stopped the bloodshed of the innocent Rwandan souls nor did it end at returning the Rwandan refugees back home but it also marked the beginning of Rwanda’s success story.
A story of transformation both socially and economically; ranging from poverty & hunger eradication, child & maternal mortality as well as fighting communicable diseases.
A journey to abolish illiteracy and create employment for all, ensure gender equality and establish a green environment while creating accountability in governance-this was the true essence of liberation and its leadership has not deviated from its cause ever since.
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is a policy I will use to briefly narrate how liberation is quantified in my point of view since 4th July 1994 to date.
Today, we celebrate empowerment of Human Capital and education for all Rwandans, an example is the Tertiary education that grew from 2,800 in 1993 to 90,800 in 2018 while 99% of Children today attend primary school in Rwanda, the highest rate in Africa.
We celebrate the economic growth, Rwanda’s nominal GDP from $750Million in 1993 to $9.1billion by 2017. We celebrate the better quality matches between workers and jobs, a factor that accounts for the drop of unemployment rate from 56% in 1993 to 13.1% in 2019. In a liberated Rwanda today, jobs are attained not based on gender, ethnicity or sectarianism but on merit and are evenly distributed.
We celebrate the mental liberation from Foreign Aid, the liberty that brought us home-made solutions and self-reliance initiatives. A great spirit that is behind the dropping of external resources from 70% in 1995 to 16% of the total budget in 2018.
The same spirit liberated ourselves from Poverty rate of 78% in 1994 to 20% in 2018, all together improving our living standards, granting us a long life with a life expectancy of 67% today from 46.4% in 1994.
Once a liberator, always a liberator, Rwanda is taking up her position on the international stage, exporting liberty, peace and security to other countries like South Sudan, Central Africa Republic and to Haiti.
Rwanda’s liberation has led to her being Africa’s 2nd country in Cyber Security, 2nd Most competitive in Africa, 2nd Easiest place to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2nd Safest place in Africa, 2nd least corrupt country in Africa, 5th Best place to be a woman globally, 7th Global Most Efficient Government, 17th Greenest place in the world-this is true definition of Rwanda’s liberation.
Therefore, as we commemorate liberation day, we celebrate the leadership, and the well upheld mandate of liberators, 26 years down the road. Rwandans are grateful for the sweat and blood that brought this liberty, families of Inkotanyi that were abandoned for the liberation struggle, the careers foregone, the wives widowed and the children orphaned all in pursuit of liberty, dignity and belonging for all Rwandans.
In a million ways, Rwandans are grateful to the liberators both the dead and the living; our children will inherit a peaceful and secure country at the expense of their blood-forever indebted to their selflessness.
The author is a social commentator.