Yesterday, President Paul Kagame, decorated Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi, and Tanzania’s former leader Mwalimu Nyerere (RIP).
The efforts by these foreign leaders towards Rwanda’s liberation played a critical role towards enabling Rwanda’s many who had lived as refugees and others who had suffered under dictatorship create a new reality where all lived in a united country.
Museveni narrated the genesis of Rwanda’s liberation and its connection to other African liberation movements.
Whereas some who at some point admired or had participated in the different African liberation movements that are in a way represented by the leaders who were present yesterday, have now developed divergent opinions and taken a different path, one can state without any fear of contradiction that these groups played a great role in the emancipation of the African people.
The role of foreign people especially Ugandans in Rwanda’s liberation, did not just start with the war effort. The hospitality as Museveni put it, be it in the availability of education institutions and other aspects of life, helped to lay ground for a generation of Rwandan refugees to free themselves.
It will be recalled that in the aftermath of the 1959 Genocide pogroms, Rwandans, who fled to neighbouring countries immediately embarked of plans to liberate their country.
These pioneers in the early phases of the liberation efforts, did not meet with a lot of success, but nevertheless, laid the foundation for their children to carry forward the liberation struggle.
The generation that was and is still represented in the personalities of Fred Rwigema and President Paul Kagame up to now, have carried the torch of Rwanda’s liberation. An opportunity availed itself when they were still youths, and they seized it.
From then, they were able to participate in liberation struggles in other countries, thus not only gaining important lessons, but also helping in the liberation of humanity in other countries.
Thus it was natural that upon embarking on the struggle, they would be supported by those who had for long shared in the ideals they held.
These ideals as shared in the past still hold up to today. Off course at some point there have been misunderstandings. But that is so because all are human.
The most important thing is that such have been overcome and cooperation at different levels is being pursued. This is testimony to the fact that greater ideals can endure and last.
Indeed up to now it is very difficult to draw a distinction as to whether some people are Rwandans or Ugandans. In any case as we move into greater East African integration, some of the hindrances that come as a result of borders will be eliminated, thus creating better avenues for cooperation most especially in terms of doing business.
It would be better if that fraternity, which we see at government level, and more importantly between the common people of the two countries, is extended to other countries in the region. With such a unifying history, there is also a lot all can learn from each other.
Whereas there are many things that unite us as neighbors, there is also a lot that brings out some aspects that are unique to each country and its peoples. This is where the importance of mutual cooperation and understanding becomes more important.
In all these countries that shared a common history of liberation movements, one thing is clearer than ever before. An emergence of a new generation, that never participated during the early stages of the struggles. But as time goes by, the mantle is being passed on to the young people to carry forward the challenge.
This is the natural progression of history. Time comes when the historical leaders grow old and have to naturally pass on responsibility to their young protégés.
The onus is on the future generations to take the responsibility and carry forward the yet other challenging tasks of realizing social economic development, which is home grown, even though assistance and lessons are drawn from overseas.
The leadership of the liberators and there efforts at social economic recovery are instructive and will remain so for long.