Col. Jill RUTAREMARA: Although we were short of weapons and manpower, we stood firm to fight against the regime that enjoyed even foreign support

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Young Rwandans who liberated the country from divisionism, ethnicity, and discrimination have been hailed for playing their role to ensure the current and the future generations live a better life.

This was said yesterday at a meeting convened in Kigali to reflect on the country’s successful Liberation Struggle.

The event brought together youth, government officials, army and police representatives at Petit Stade in Rwemera. Similar gatherings were held in other parts of the country, according to organisers.

Youth were urged to embrace patriotism and sacrifice that characterized the liberators, and lead the next phase of liberation which includes fight against poverty, and genocide ideology among other things.

Evelyne Bampire, a participant, said the liberation struggle by the youth was not easy as it faced many challenges such as losing their commandant at the beginning of the struggle which was discouraging.

“Losing the commandant at the very beginning of the struggle was a real test, fortunately they got another commandant who went on to lead the Liberation War and is still the leader of the country,” she said.

“What we can say is that the youth were patriotic, courageous, and had the will to strive for their rights. Those are the values we have to emulate as youth.”

Bampire said it is the responsibility of the youth to sustain the gains and ensure that Rwanda is a better country for all without discrimination.

“We have the foundation that was laid by our liberators and the leadership Rwanda has. We have achieved a lot and we should not take this for granted as it did not come out of the blue, we have the responsibility to reflect on the past, hold the country in our hearts and we need to work hard to sustain the gains and achieve more,” she added.

The Liberation Struggle was launched on October 1, 1990, by young Rwandans led by Maj Gen Fred Rwigema, who died a day later.

Maj Paul Kagame, who was in the US for military studies, had to cut short his sojourn to return and take charge of the demoralised freedom fighters. He led them to victory and has since been the steward of the country’s transformation.

There is still a long way to go

Officials who graced the event told the youth that while the Liberation Struggle realised its first mandate, the struggle is continuous as there is a lot that still needs to be done, espcially by the youth.

This includes fighting poverty, promoting quality education, fighting genocide ideology, and fighting drug abuse.

RPA related image.
Col Jill Rutaremara, the director of Rwanda Peace Academy

Col Jill Rutaremara, the director of Rwanda Peace Academy, said the Liberation War was very important and meant that Rwanda had not acquired full independence as some citizens were still deprived of their rights, while others were forced into camps as refugees.

He took the youth through the history of the Liberation Struggle, telling them that it would not have been possible hadn’t the youth been more patriotic, focused and driven by meaningful cause to fight.

“There were several attempts to negotiate with the then government about the challenges Rwandans faced, all in vain, until Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) declared the Liberation War as the last option. Rwandans faced discrimination and disdain, we had to stop all these.

“Although we were short of weapons and manpower, we stood firm to fight against the regime that enjoyed even foreign support,” he said, noting the RPA army then numbered about 2,000.


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