On Friday, on a quiet city street, I spotted a lone Rwandan flag being tightly clutched. If possible the image affected me more than the joyous celebrations at Muhanga.
The blue, yellow and green bands, just seven years old, embody the new life that was born out of ashes. This small flag, proudly swaying in the sun, represented to me what it is to be Rwandan now. Today, Rwandans can collectively stand proud.
And indeed there is much to be proud about: Not just 14 years of peace but 14 years of growth and prosperity. A remarkable achievement when all was pitted against.
Rwanda has transformed its economy, its education system and its health care. Income per capita is up and health indicators are improved, with over 50,000 people receiving the Aids treatment they need. Corruption is down, female empowerment is up and there are record numbers of children in school.
When asked what Liberation Day means to her, 22 year old Winnie Muteteri put it simply: “Our country is now respected”.
And she is right; all eyes are on Rwanda and for all the right reasons. Investors scout for money making opportunities, international leaders pay homage to development success while tourists flock to experience the country’s beauty.
And things look set to go from strength to strength. There are plans for new roads, better electricity access and faster internet (when we already have the best in Africa).
Long-term peace was always going to be about more than just adopting a new flag, but today the sun that sits in the right-hand corner of the vibrant flag with its 24 rays of light signifying how precious each hour of the day truly is, promises just that.
When the new flag was redesigned after 1994 who would have thought that the days ahead could be quite so bright? Fourteen years on and Rwandans can wave their flag high.