Senior Government officials,

Defence Force and Police chiefs,

Members of the diplomatic corps,

Distinguished guests,

New Officer Cadet, your parents and friends here present,

Fellow Rwandans,

I wish to extend my greetings to you and wish you a good day.

Today’s ceremony marks the completion of training of Officer Cadets and their commissioning into Rwanda Defence Force. I am pleased to be here with you to take part in the ceremony. But, first I would like to congratulate those who have completed their training, who stand before us today. We also appreciate those who failed to complete the course. You demonstrated the willingness to serve your country. We are sure that you will play a role in other important responsibilities.

The training these Officer Cadets went through and which they completed successfully demanded a lot of focus and perseverance. The knowledge they acquired will allow them to work in different capacities.

As has already been said, these Officer Cadets and their colleagues in the Rwanda Defence Force, are trained and prepared to face unusual and unexpected challenges and situations, but once this happens they have to face them and surmount them.

These Officer Cadets and the rest of the Rwanda Defence Force, like everywhere else in the world, are trained and equipped with knowledge and skills that give them the ability to defend the nation’s sovereignty, which means that they might need to go to war to protect the lives of Rwandans and their property.

It is a heavy responsibility in itself. But they also carry out other assignments in times of peace, which usually is the majority of their service. When there are no wars to be fought or peacekeeping missions to attend to, be it in the country or even outside the country, the army takes part in other activities that contribute to nation building and development.

The army is trained to fight wars, but it doesn’t mean that they start wars. No one is trained to trigger or provoke war. They are trained to fight wars in case they are provoked, which sometimes happens.

In time of peace, which usually lasts the longest, those that have joined the army might reach retirement age without ever going to war. That’s what we hope for. You prepare for war while working for peace. But you are trained so that in case it happens, you end it for the one who started it. That is what our army is trained for. It is what they are meant to face. We won’t be the ones to start wars. It is not necessary. It is not good.

We should therefore emphasise training, military exercises, and acquiring knowledge needed to build our country, and keeping abreast of new developments. We must be prepared for challenges of the future. That is our primary responsibility.  It is also what we wish to build from and if possible end at. In all that we do, we plan for ourselves. We cannot plan or decide for others.

But if it happens that somewhere else, others consider us their problem, and choose to start a war with us, that is when we use our judgment and capabilities, and knowledge and skills we have acquired to do what we need to do and end that war as we should. This is the Rwanda we want. That is the army we wish to have that has the ability to perform its duties whatever the circumstances.

Newly commissioned officers, I would like to welcome you into the Rwanda Defence Force, into this profession and those responsibilities, and I assure you it is a noble profession. It should be a source of pride for you – being able to build the country you desire and deserve and developing yourselves as you deserve.

I would to remind you that we have completed one part, in terms of knowledge, training, and exercises, but you are not done yet. There are different levels. You have completed the first level, the hard one. There are other levels awaiting you but which will empower you with the knowledge to face the challenging future ahead of us and also give you the ability to contribute to the development of our country.

I want to thank the families that brought you up, that made you who you are today and allowed you to join this profession, which many people are not interested in joining or don’t even understand well. I thank your parents, your relatives and your friends who supported your commitment to join this profession, and as said by your superiors, you have all excelled in your training.

I wish you a successful service and a bright future.

God bless you.