"If you haven't found something you are willing to die for, then you are not fit to live" -- Martin Luther King Junior.
Whereas many; the old and the young, the educated and uneducated may understand Liberation as an action of setting someone or a group of people most especially a nation or a specific race free from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression; the same is true with Rwanda’s understanding of Liberation and perhaps much more than that specific understanding.
A desire and a thirst or hunger for liberation will by all means be at a rise if a certain group of people or nation feel that their unalienable rights and God given freedoms are in danger.
Quoting John Locke, one of the 19th century greatest philosophers regarded as the founder of school of thought and liberal governance and whose philosophy on human rights was referenced in 1776 America’s declaration of Independence could perhaps shed some more light to what am trying to contextualize as far as liberation is concerned, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness"
A Rwanda of 1959 to the climax of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was a shadow of these Truths. In other terms, these truths no longer existed and neither were they applicable to some section of people (Tutsi). Truths of men being equal, truth of a right to live, truth of a right to liberty, truth of a right to own property, truth of a right to happiness were all a myth.
All these truths and rights were taken away; as evidenced by 1959 Tutsi massacres and refugees’ crisis, 1962, 1973, 1992 Tutsi massacres, denying the Tutsi to access education, serve in the military, and much more as documented in the Hutu manifesto and Ten Commandments; and finally the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
A people that God had created for a Purpose to co-create with Him had been turned into enemies of the same creation they were created to enjoy and to protect
A people that God gave a form of human beings, now were dehumanized
A people that God had created in His own Image, were reduced to an image of a cockroach and a snake awaiting to be smashed on the head.
A people that God gave life, were now killed in the most horrible of ways.
Whereas there was continued gross abuse of human rights, what would have been done? Whereas the international community continued to keep quiet on this alarming situation and sometimes participating in it, what would have been done?
Allow me to refer to 1776 declaration of America’s Independence; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these rights and truths for which it is in place to serve, it therefore becomes the right of the people to remove it and institute a new government.
And according to Frantz Fanon, Liberation is necessary in destroying institutions of segregation and tribalism and forge a new nation by introducing into each man’s consciousness the ideas of a common cause, of a national destiny and of a collective history that contribute to national development after liberation. Liberation becomes so key in freeing the citizen from his/her inferiority complex, despair and inaction thereby restoring self-respect and national dignity.
Failing peace talks and negotiations that never materialized due to the nature of the Rwandan regime at the time left Rwandans in the RPF no other choice but to assert more significance to the need of total liberation and four years later, Rwanda was liberated.
I couldn’t be more proud of many men and women in uniform and all the rest that joined the pool of liberation to bring down this evil wall that had surrounded Rwanda for decades. Compelled by the spirit of liberation, they marched forward not knowing what awaits them despite being ready to pay the ultimate price of life for the sake of liberating another. I salute them all.
The war of liberation was the first phase of total liberation creating space and providing a platform for all the citizens to participate in liberating their nation socioeconomically. The rest of us, what are we currently doing to contribute in the liberation of Rwanda? A few in puts perhaps;
Let us be positive and support government initiatives
Make a promise to support whoever is doing their best in human capacity to transform the community. Don’t spend your energy in critiquing, in fighting but rather in contributing to the collective and concerted effort of building your nation.
Live a life of Purpose and contribute to the continued struggle of liberation. It is not anybody else’s nation that we are building but our own. You build it, you thrive in it, you destroy it, and you go down with it. Your purpose is what God gave you to come and contribute to your community and nation, then do it, because your society is waiting for it to blossom.
Let us learn to support Home grown solutions be it from the government initiatives or from other sectors and individuals.
Let us all collectively support home grown individual initiatives that transform our communities. We surely do not need to wait on foreign donors to do for us what we are supposed to be doing for ourselves. I am a member of Purpose Rwanda, a nonprofit organization founded and run by Rwandans that seeks to contribute in fighting of poverty through building a Purposeful, Positive and an Addiction Free generation.
We believe that every man was born for a Purpose to do and to achieve, a destiny to reach and fruits to bear. However, often times we don’t live according to our purpose of creation either due to not knowing, or lack of empowerment and sometimes, addictions.
We should remember that a person belongs to a family, a family to a village, a village to a community, a community to a nation. And all the nation’s growth and development largely hinges and depends on man. If you therefore find men who don’t know their purposes, men who are addicted, not only are they living a life that chokes them but their society’s life too is at stake.
Purpose Rwanda therefore is in place to build Purposeful, Positive and Addiction Free citizens towards contributing to the enhancement of self-sustainability and socioeconomic transformation in Rwanda. And its vision is to truly fight poverty based on Purposeful, Positive and Addiction Free generation. Through Purpose Rwanda’s programs, a lot in relative form has been achieved, many addicts recovering and many Purposeful Agents of Transformation discovered, trained, mentored and commissioned to go and serve their communities.
However much this might sound interesting to you, raising funds and other in-kind support has been the greatest challenge of all for Purpose Rwanda to perform more and more. Not because we don’t have what to give to such causes but because a culture of supporting our own causes is yet to be inculcated among us. And do you know what this has caused? More addicts not reached, many initiatives supposed to develop our communities not supported. Consequently individual liberation which is supposed to add up to nation building is going to be tricky, hence slow growth. I call on us all to learn how to support not only what the government has called us on to support but also what we rightly find resourceful for our communities.
That way, we shall surely and swiftly liberate our nation socioeconomically.
My plea to all citizens of Rwanda is that the struggle continues and we all have a role to play in the reconstruction and building of Rwanda.
And it starts with us today,
It starts with you and me doing what is due, doing what is right, gathering the strength and courage to drop what isn’t adding value to our lives.
It starts today by choosing to follow and work on our life purposes,
It starts today by choosing to remain addiction free.
It starts today by working tirelessly than ever before for our society
It starts today by having a dignified identity as a people and as a nation
It starts today by choosing to be positive and focused on things before and beyond self
It starts today by fighting and rebuking forces of disunity and genocide ideology
We have no excuse whatsoever in building a nation we all desire, since the hardest part was done by our liberators, 26 years ago.
Go beyond your fear, go beyond your concerns, go beyond your addiction, go beyond your negative thoughts and attitude, just go beyond every day, to the life you were created to live, to a person you were created to be, to fulfill a mission you were created for, and by doing that you will be doing a mighty service for yourself, your society, your nation and consequently for the region and beyond. The Mountain top is near and the view is always beautiful.
Our gifts are our greatest resources. Our purposes are our wealth, our wealth is our future.
Happy Liberation Day!
The writer is a social commentator based in Kigali.