It is a sombre honour to join you, as we commemorate the day when the country you love awoke from the darkest night of its long history. I bring you the fraternal best wishes of every Kenyan, and every East African.
Twenty years ago today, the violence, terror and slaughter of a hundred days of evil were stilled. Rwanda was liberated from the grip of evil – evil rooted in the futile quest for ethnic and racial purity.
We join you in remembering the events of twenty years ago. Our sorrow, and our respect for your recovery, are immeasurable.
We pay tribute to the victims who died, and those who suffered. Amid the horror, after the world had turned its face from them, it was Rwandans who freed themselves. We honour those patriots, near and far, who risked all they had to liberate this land.
We in the region must confess that we could have eased their heroic task – we could have done more, sooner. Our delay and inaction in your hour of need are a standing reproach. From them, and their consequences, we have learned much. They serve, always, as a spur for tighter ties between the nations of this region.
In the years since its liberation, Rwanda has advanced mightily. You have restored order, and brought justice, peace and reconciliation. You have not forgotten that prosperity, and good neighbourliness, are the firmest of replies to those who sell the narrow, ugly ideas of ethnic and racial hatred. Your example of reconciliation inspires us all. Yours are lessons others in the region should learn, and doubtless will.
But your progress has not been unhindered. The forces which brought death and disaster to your land still prowl, seeking to devour your nation, and with it the work of the last two decades. Further afield, there are those who remain sceptical, or worse, of the project of reconciliation and reconstruction that has occupied Rwanda these last two decades. Your friends in the region can make partial amends for their inaction all those years ago by standing with you in the fight against those who despair of you, or still wish you harm.
The East African Community that I chair, and the Kenya that I lead, stand by you. We have strengthened our trade, infrastructure and logistical links with you, for our common security lies in a prosperity that benefits all our people. We work together to strengthen regional security in the knowledge that peace is the fundamental demand of our citizens, in whose absence all our works turn to ash.
We make common cause with Rwanda to protect our region’s honour. And, underlying all this, the direct contact between our people – the casual, open and friendly meetings at work and play – is the final proof that our community of nations is secure.
This day of remembrance strengthens us in the certainty that your healing will be complete, and that the dignity by which you turned horror into hope will be the abiding memory of these trying years.
God bless and keep you all. Thank you