KIGALI - President Paul Kagame, yesterday, said that Rwanda’s liberation struggle is ongoing and called upon the Rwandan people, who have been part and parcel of the struggle for the last 16 years, to maintain the liberation spirit, for the country to achieve the desired level of development.
Kagame, who was addressing tens of thousands of people who turned up at Amahoro National Stadium to mark the Liberation Day, said that while a lot has been achieved in the last 16 years, there is still more that Rwandans have to do to get where they want.
“The Liberation process has not ended. It is not going to end soon. I am sure that the people of our country understand that a lot has been done and a lot more remains to be done,” Kagame said.
The event was marked by conferring medals to foreigners, for their individual role in the liberation struggle and the fight against the Genocide.
Kagame noted that Rwandans played the biggest part in the struggle to liberate themselves and they will be the ones to carry it on and define their destiny.
Urging Rwandans to carry on the struggle, the President said that “the same dedication, the same commitment, the same spirit” should remain the norm and the driving force for them to fight for their rights and dignity, if they are going to take their rightful place in the world.
He added that, today, the country has done away with bad leadership that kept the people backward, and the next phase of the struggle will involve Rwandans changing their mindsets to propel themselves to higher standards of living.
Kagame, advised the Rwandan people to focus on how they can progress in terms of development and earn the respect and value they deserve as a people.
President Kagame said that the country will continue to recognise those individuals who invaluably contributed to the liberation struggle and spoke out against the Genocide, when the rest of the world had turned a blind eye on Rwanda.
Kagame said that while some have already been recognised for their heroic contribution to the struggle, others will be honoured in due course, including President Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea.
Last year, Rwanda awarded President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi and the former President of Tanania, Late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
Kagame congratulated the 12 foreign personalities who were awarded medals for their role in the struggle and said that their heroic contribution is worthy recognition given that the rest of the international community did not do what they were supposed to.
“You only did what you were supposed to do in the first place, and that comes from the immense humility and modesty. We live in the world where it is supposed to be the norm that people do what they are supposed to do, but in the end it turns out to be the exception, many people don’t do what they are supposed to do,”
“That is why we have the genocide committed by the leaders of this country. Leaders are not supposed to kill their own people; they are supposed to protect their people. They are supposed to work for the interest of their people,”
Kagame thanked the individuals who were honoured at the colourful ceremony, for standing up against the oppression, sectarian politics and most of all, pointed to the world that genocide was unfolding in Rwanda.
“You are very much worthy of the honours bestowed upon you,” Kagame told the individuals who were conferred with medals.
Among the medals awarded were Uruti, Rwanda’s Liberation Medal and Umurinzi Rwanda’s Campaign against Genocide Medal.