July 4 has been a special date in the history of Rwanda for the last 15 years. It is the day in 1994 Juvenal Habyarimana’s government of 21 years, and after his end on the night of April 6, Jean Kambanda’s makeshift administration breathed last.There is reason to mark Rwanda Liberation Day (view anniversary pictorial).
Before then, for years, genocide preparations had been going on. Habyarimana’s death marked the start of the implementation stage of the plan to terminate the Tutsi people, while Kambanda’s ouster put an end to the three-months-long killings that followed.
A million people had died by the time Rwanda Patriotic Army led by Major General Paul Kagame dismissed the killers. Even then there were plenty of reasons to celebrate their expulsion. It was the end of barbarism, signal of the resurrection of the national economy.
It became possible to embark on political reconciliation and make social development a national goal.
The enormity of consolidating the gains made so far is staring us in our faces. The challenge of changing the mindset, of staying focused and determined to cement the dignity that is our identity add strength is here with us. And we have the task of reclaiming the pride which comes with living our traditional values.
We need to be far more service oriented if the wealth doors are to be opened widely. We have to be mindful of time, desiring to satisfy our clients, always. Are we to celebrate July 4 despite the scale of the job yet to be done?
The answer to the above questions is, without any irony, an emphatic yes. Let us understand what we are celebrating. It is a government fully committed to putting in place an enabling environment for Rwandans to fight the poverty monster. A government which takes full ownership of the social challenges as it mobilises people and other resources to confront them.
Worthy of celebrating is the total security of person and property; the political will to uproot corruption from the Rwandan society, an ill that characterised the pre-1994 national institutions. We are celebrating the incentives laid in place to attract foreign investments which will yield tax revenue and create jobs for nationals; happy with the resolve to make Rwanda a better place to do business.
Rwandans will be marking the day when their dignity and total sovereignty were finally restored. They are living with ever increasing confidence that the trip to prosperity is cruising towards a point of no return. Evidence is, among many other areas, based on the advancement in Information Communication Technology, Tourism and Agriculture that are spurring our economy.
They look at Mituelle de Sante, RAMA and other programs and derive belief in the national leadership. Free primary education for all is another inspiration; the road infrastructure that is either being tarmacked or graded; the reducing of economic dependence on the outside world; the involvement of the people in matters of self-governance.
Rwandans look at the above, the gender equality policies, the Public-Private-Partnership initiative, the judiciary that is accountable to the people, and how theirs is becoming a nation of innovation.
This is what Rwanda is celebrating — the end of hopelessness, the appreciation that liberation is a process. That even if our generation may not stay long enough to live in a developed Rwanda, we shall leave with the satisfaction of having laid the foundation and set the ball rolling. We shall go with the assurance that our children will reap the fruits of our efforts. And that kind of reward is good motivation.
Reproduced and edited version.