KIGALI-President Paul Kagame, yesterday, said that the Liberation struggle that, 17 years ago, aimed at restoring the dignity of the Rwandan people, has been achieved and what remains is to build on that foundation.
The Head of State made the remarks while addressing thousands of people who turned up for the celebrations to mark the 17th anniversary of Liberation, at Amahoro National Stadium.
At a colourful ceremony that drew top government officials, several foreign delegations, diplomatic corps and thousands of jubilant citizens, President Kagame said that the country has come a long way, leaving behind a dark history and embarking on a road to development.
He noted that the day serves as a reminder of where the country has come from---an ugly past which no other country would have wished to experience, to an impressive rate of progress today and an even more promising future ahead.
The President noted that the struggle to fully restore the dignity of the Rwandan people, improve their standards of living, accord them peace and security, good health, equip them with skills and lead them to the desired levels of development, is a process that continues.
The Head of State pointed out that the country has overcome the hardest of the challenges and achieved a lot over the last 17 years, but the best is yet to come as the country continues to liberate itself in different ways.
He said that while a lot has been achieved, it was not a smooth sail, as the country had to confront many detractors and stumbling blocks, adding, however, that over time, Rwanda has been able to overcome them and continue on the path to progress.
President Kagame noted that over the years, Rwanda has been able to confront its persecutors on all fronts, adding that, at no time did Rwandans fear critics or whatever they said because they knew the truth was on their side.
The President said that the most important thing is for Rwandans to remain focussed on the struggle to preserve their dignity and at the same time defend it selflessly.
In reference to a testimony given earlier by Telesphore Rucibiraro, a resident of Gakenke District, the Head of State said that every Rwandan has a positive story to tell from the liberation struggle and how their lives have changed.
Rucibiraro, 49, a resident of Muhunga sector, Gakenke fled to DR Congo in 1994 but returned home in 1996 after he was convinced by RPA soldiers that Rwanda was safe. He has not looked back and today he is one of the model farmers in the country.
President Kagame said that the achievements of the citizens speak for themselves, adding that it is this approach that silences detractors because actions speak louder than words.
The Head of State emphasised that Rwandans reserve the right to tell their story and only they can shape their own destiny. He, however, said that Rwandans will cooperate with whoever wants work with them.
The President commended the people who played a role in the struggle, including those who sacrificed their lives, particularly the soldiers, noting that those who died never lost their lives in vain.
The ceremony was characterised by a colourful parade by the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) and the Rwandan National Police, as well as performances by local musicians.