columns

Celebrating Rwanda’s 28th Liberation Day with Gratification

Abel Buhungu
Head of Rwanda Diplomatic Mission in Sudan

Introduction:

Liberation Day which is annually celebrated on 4th July in Rwanda officially marks the end of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda. It was on this day, twenty-eight years ago that the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) now in leadership managed to stop the genocide through a military campaign that was launched soon after the beginning of the genocide on 7th April 1994. This liberation did not only save Rwanda from total destruction as a nation but also heralded the rebirth of a new Rwanda characterized by: valuing of human life; resuscitation of unity and Rwandan values of the pre-colonial era; reincarnation of hope for Rwandans bolstered by a sense of security; and the reinvigoration of an economy erstwhile destroyed.

This is a day Rwandans and friends both inside the country and globally get together to celebrate an end to the darkest chapter of Rwandan history. A chapter rooted in the divide and rule policy of the Colonial Masters that transited to hate and discrimination policies of the two post-independence Republics which metamorphosed into genocide ideology and birthed the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. It is a day we pay tribute to the courageous men and women united under the RPF that made selfless sacrifices and ably saved Rwanda from her total destruction. Rwanda’s liberation is a precursor for the transformative journey the country has been on for twenty-eight (28) years now and whose gains are self-evident.

Achievements of this liberation are enormous not least the fact that it is now a firm source of global hope for realizing a genocide-free society. Though nationally celebrated on 4th July, Rwanda Diplomatic Mission in Sudan is scheduled to host this important National event on 7th July 2022.

Background to the Genocide:

Rwanda’s Colonial Masters initiated the divide and rule policy and later recruited and indoctrinated some Rwandans to ensure their legacy and influence lived on beyond Rwanda’s independence. Those recruited for the purpose were Hutu children educated and brainwashed through some catholic schools. The Colonialists ensured leadership at Rwanda’s independence in 1962 was handed over to their prepared disciples who never disappointed. Motivated by hate and a selfish strategy of ensuring total monopolization of political power, this post-independence crop of leaders practiced systemic excessive ethnic-based hate, discrimination, and exclusion punctuated with violence against Tutsi as a governance system of choice.

This political ideology of marginalization, hate, and discrimination against Tutsis propagated for over three decades with impunity and no consequences from the international community motivated the final decision to once for all cleanse Rwanda of all Tutsis. Unfortunately, even when evidence of the planning and preparation of the genocide was extensively known and General Romeo Dallaire, Commander of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Rwanda (MINUAR) had also reported on it to the UN, there was inaction by the International Community. This was a welcome signal for top extremists in the former Government who gave final command on 7th April 1994 for commencing the genocide. 

Rwanda’s Liberation Journey:

Following the frustration of all peaceful efforts to resolve the state of statelessness that over a million Rwandan refugees had been subjected to for over three decades and myriad other problems that faced Rwandans inside their country, a liberation struggle by young men and women united under Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) was launched on 1st October 1990. Millions of cries by Rwandans inside and outside the country were answered on this very momentous day of 4th July 1994 proudly celebrated annually.

Following the stopping of the genocide and liberation of Rwanda, the RPF established a Government of National Unity that was a representation of all political parties and individuals with no known role in the genocide. This broad-based Government inherited a near-failed State and had a huge challenge of salvaging the country amidst a raging insurgency perpetrated by remnants of the forces that planned and committed the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

Remnants of these genocide masterminds are now organized under an internationally listed terrorist group called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) which is operating in Eastern DRC. FDLR is comprised of the former armed forces of Rwanda (EX-FAR) and Interahamwe Militia that committed the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. Moreover, at the end of the genocide in 1994, this terrorist group held hostage over three million Rwandan refugees herded into Eastern DRC by the same forces for continuous replenishment of their insurgency/genocidal forces against Rwanda.

The post-1994 Government considered and prioritized the attainment of peace and security as a sine qua non for resuscitation of unity and reconciliation among Rwandans as well as sustainable development. Having attained national peace and stability, Rwanda now is a major contributor to global peace through International Peacekeeping. Twenty-eight years after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, the FDLR terrorist group has been reasonably weakened though not yet fully destroyed. The over three million refugees that were erstwhile under captivity and exploited for replenishment of the FDLR genocidal force were rescued, repatriated, and reintegrated into society before the closure of the twentieth century; justice has been served through the homegrown Gacaca restorative justice system, and reconciliation and unity among Rwandans have irrefutably taken root despite decades of divide and rule by the colonial masters and hate and discriminatory policies of the post-independence Governments which birthed a plan to exterminate all Tutsi and which plan was executed to near perfection.  

FDLR is now in a loose coalition with MRCD/FLN of one Paul Rusesabagina, currently facing a twenty-five-year sentence over nuisance terrorist acts carried out in Southern Rwanda by his terrorist organization, the so-called National Liberation Front (FLN), under his direction and public pronouncements of support. Support networks of these terrorist groups along with fugitives of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi are still scattered across the globe and continue to propagate denial and revisionism of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. It is moreover disturbing to note that recently, there has been an upsurge of hate speeches and genocide-related rhetoric from within the region and area that has hosted the FDLR terrorist group for twenty-eight years now.

There is an urgent need for the International Community to initiate remedial intervention to stop these hate speeches and all manifestations of genocide ideology by engaging relevant stakeholders as well as prosecuting all fugitives of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi and propagators of genocide denial and revisionism.

Governance and Economic progress:

It is thanks to the resilience of Rwandans; a results and accountability-oriented leadership; a myriad of initiated homegrown solutions coupled with a choice of a people-centered governance model; and myriad strategic economic policies that we see an astounding progress twenty-eight (28) years after the genocide.

Impressive milestones include adoption and use of innovative digital technologies that is supported by a drive for universal and affordable internet connectivity; diversification of the economy and resultant rapid economic growth; achieving all eight (08) UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before transitioning to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Universal Healthcare (now at 95% of the total population) and improved socio-economic status of ordinary citizens thus raising life expectancy from 29 years of 1990s to 67 years to-date; fighting and controlling the COVID19 pandemic; establishing and operationalizing vital institutions of accountability; empowering women (61% of Parliament; 51% Cabinet; slightly over 50% Women CEOs); empowering Rwandan youth through various capacity building interventions including increased access to college education and Technical and Vocational Education & Training (TVETs); fending for the most vulnerable in the community (e.g. construction of modal villages,  free education for genocide survivors, one cow per poor family ..); and sustainably growing the economy at an average of 8% for 16 years until the COVID19 global disruption in 2020.

After contracting by 3.4% in 2020 owing to the COVID19 pandemic, the Rwandan economy rebound with a 10.2% growth in 2021 and 7.9% during the 1st quarter of 2022. In leveraging modern technology, Rwanda aims to become a trusted hub for digital financial services and technology innovation in the region and beyond. Though still a work in progress, the Kigali International Financial Centre (KIFC); Kigali Innovation City, and the Centre for the Fourth (4th)  Industrial Revolution are three examples born out of this vision and related strategies. The Rohde and Schwarz – Rwanda office, the first on the continent, is a positive addition to Rwanda’s technology community through its software development lab that started in 2019.    

Conclusion:

Rwanda’s liberation journey did not only stop the genocide even when all odds seemed against Rwandans and when the International Community had oddly left them at their peril. Indeed as highlighted in this article, the liberation journey has also with a very good measure of success tackled the enormous challenges that confronted the country both emanating from her bad colonial history and the aftermath of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.

Meanwhile, the growing Rwanda-Sudan bilateral relations offer an excellent environment for increasing trade and investment between both countries as well as more people-to-people interactions. Moreover, with Rwanda’s internationally renowned ease of doing business where it is now ranked second on the continent and thirty-eighth globally, we can only encourage more Sudan-based investors to explore more of Rwanda’s business and investment ecosystem practically. This they should do very rest assured of red-carpet treatment, best returns, and security of their investment.

Back to top button