Amahoro Stadium, 4th July 2011
- Distinguished High-Ranking Government Officials;
- Distinguished Guests from our Neighboring Countries;
- Distinguished Friends of Rwanda;
- Fellow Rwandans Gathered Here and Elsewhere;
- Please allow me to extend my hearty greetings and wish you a happy day.
In wishing you a happy day, I would also like to wish you good health that is fitting for this day on which we commemorate our Self-liberation for the 17th time. On such a day, we always remember where we are coming from, how far we have gone and where we are headed. Our history reminds us that we have been to a past so bad that no other country has been to.
However, our present is bright and we know that our future is even brighter. Our experience is like climbing a steep and high mountain where a climber cannot imagine ever reaching the top. Where we are now is level and where we are going is a downhill slope.
Of course, in descending you also need energy so that you can be able to apply breaks and avoid rolling.
In all this, however, the important thing is to know that self-liberation means the reclamation of our dignity. Now that we have reclaimed our dignity and earned it the hard way, our struggle rests in continuing to defend and maintain it.
It is evident that such a struggle is not simple. The struggle to reclaim our dignity, the struggle for progress, the struggle for Rwandans to live in security, peace and tranquillity, to be in good health, to earn a good education, to work and develop; such struggle is not, and has never been, easy.
In such a struggle we must expect to encounter many hurdles. And we have encountered many, among which I would like to highlight one. Put simply, when you have for long been persecuted; when you have constantly been harassed, in the end you forget your fear. When you have for long been pursued, you become fearless and stop and confront your pursuer. As Rwandans, and Rwanda as a country, we have been persecuted for long enough and become fearless (even if we have never been a fearful people).
Whatever you encounter, whatever you see, hear, whatever Rwandans encounter, in what we say or what is said about us, whatever mudslinging is directed at us by a few (they are certainly not many), there is a bigger constituency of Rwandans and friends of Rwanda, who are behind us.
We live together, we work together and we thank them for that. What I want everyone to know is that we have never harboured any fear. And if at all we did, we no longer harbour any. Our chorus is one, our goal is one and it is to defend our dignity and to do so relentlessly.
For that I would like to thank all Rwandans for answering the call of this struggle that has involved everyone, as evidenced by the testimony we have just listened to (of someone who came back from the refugee camps of D.R. Congo and now has been named the most exemplary farmer in Rwanda). It is also evidence of how Rwandans from all walks of life have been involved in the liberation struggle, in the struggle to liberate Rwanda, to defend our dignity.
Let us therefore continue to work and defend our dignity; that our actions may speak for Rwanda, for us and for themselves. Otherwise, those who think Rwanda will be as they wish will be disappointed. Rwanda will be the way Rwandans want it to be. We must be the way we want to be, not the way others want us to be. And if there are those who wish us well (and they are many), they will want us to get what we wish for ourselves. So, we must be partners with others and that is what gives value to our dignity.
Again, on this august day we remember and salute all those who played a role in the liberation of our country and of all Rwandans. We also urge all those who may have strayed to follow the path that is right for them and for all Rwandans. This is especially so for those in the security forces of our country. These members of the security forces you see here and the many others they represent laid their lives on the line to save Rwanda.
I want you to know that those who lost their lives in the struggle did not do so in vain. It is our collective duty as Rwandans to make sure that this struggle that cost us so much is not in vain. This must be so even as we are persecuted, maligned, and assigned a bad image. Let this instead be our current and constant source of great strength so that we can defend our dignity with more vigour. That way, our liberation will forever retain its values.
Let me again take this opportunity to thank Rwandans for answering the call to this struggle in all their numbers. Even those who had been left behind have joined hands with their brethren and sisters. Together, let’s celebrate the successes we have registered and let us not relax and become complacent. Let us face the future with determination and strive to make it bright.
In conclusion, I would like to thank you all Rwandans. I think it is in order for us to celebrate this day because it is fitting that we should have time to work, to sacrifice and do whatever is possible. And when it comes to celebrating your achievements and successes, do not hold yourselves back!
In celebrating our achievements and not holding ourselves back, again we can draw great strength from that so that whatever is left to be done is done even better.
Without taking more of your time, I would like to thank you all for your sacrifice, your good understanding, your good deeds and for upholding your values.