Kigali, 4 July 2014

President Kagame today led Rwandans in commemorating 20 years of national liberation, during celebrations that took place at the Amahoro National Stadium, Remera. The celebrations were also attended by Presidents from the region including Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Salva Kiir of South Sudan and the first Vice President of Burundi, Prosper Bazombanza.

In his address, President Kagame reminisced that on the 4th of July in 1994, the darkest chapter in Rwanda’s history was brought to a close, and lives begun anew. He said that although too much was lost to commemorate that day as a triumph and the liberation struggle is far from over, Rwandans have come far enough in the past twenty years to deserve a moment of sober satisfaction, as they recommit to the journey ahead.

“The losses endured by every Rwandan family strengthen our resolve to safeguard the gains we have made. But we did not work to spare Rwanda’s children from war so that they take peace for granted. Soon enough, they will have to step up and take responsibility. We must ensure they are ready. Today, Rwanda’s security forces give their all to protect our constitutional order, in close partnership with the people. As our struggle taught us, the people’s trust is the true foundation of nation-building.”

President Kagame observed that liberations is not a single event or an endpoint but an attitude that inspires everything people do, without which they cannot succeed. He said that each milestone they reach allows them to do more, to confront other challenges and overcome them.

“Liberation sometimes includes a military campaign, but it never ends with one. That is where Rwanda is today — in the phase of struggle that begins after the guns have finally fallen silent. Rwanda’s experience was, and is, an African one. Both the collapse and the rebirth of our country are part of the African story, not isolated episodes that stand outside of it. In the other liberation struggles in Africa, we saw a mirror of our predicament as Rwandans. Those early freedom fighters had a righteous anger at colonialism, racism, and the resulting injustices, just as we did. But most importantly, they had a determination to act on their ideals, despite the high cost. In setting out to liberate this country, we were fighting for a better Rwanda, but with awareness of the wider struggles for a better Africa.

President Kagame said that the conviction of Rwandans to fight divisionism had not changed, and never would and it has allowed them to build a new country together that delivers security, public services, and economic opportunity to all citizens.

“We still have a long road to travel, but Rwanda has been able to come this far because we owned up and took the lead in addressing our challenges. If we maintain this approach, we have no reason to fear the future. The frontline of the African liberation struggle today is within our minds.Liberation is, and has always been, a campaign waged in the name of universal human values of equality, fairness, reason, and above all the inherent worth of every person.This struggle is ours to finish, and now is the time.”

In his address, President Kenyatta who is also the current Chairman of the East African Community observed that in the years since its liberation, Rwanda has advanced mightily paid tribute to Rwanda’s recovery.

“We in the region must confess that we could have eased their heroic task – we could have done more, sooner. We honour those patriots, near and far, who risked all they had to liberate this land. After the world had turned its face from them, it was Rwandans who freed themselves. We pay tribute to the victims who died and those who suffered.”

Read the Kwibohora20 speech