Over 300 Rwandans, friends of Rwanda and members of the diplomatic community celebrated the 20th Anniversary of Liberation Day, Kwibohora20, at the Camden Civic Centre, in London, on 12th July 2014.
The celebrations were thrilled by scintillating performances by Rwandan artists, JB Samputu, Kitoko and British artists Iain Stewart and Sandra Goodley.
In a Libration Day message read on his behalf, UK Minister for Africa, Hon, Mark Simmonds, conveyed his best wishes to all Rwandans, noting: On 4th July, Liberation Day, the day when the Rwandan Patriotic Army forces took control of Kigali and ended the reign of the previous genocidal regime, I stood with you in spirit, acknowledging the sacrifices made and the astonishing progress made by Rwanda over the last 20 years.
During these 20 years, the UK has been Rwanda’s partner and friend; we are proud to have played a part in supporting the efforts of the Rwandan government to rebuild a secure and prosperous state which respects human rights and promotes freedom of expression.
As President Paul Kagame said in his speech in Kigali on the 4th of July, “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.” I whole heartedly agree with these words, he added.
In his remarks, Rwanda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, H.E Excellency Williams Nkurunziza acknowledged UK’s friendship and thanked all present for their solidarity: “Your presence here, instead of staying home to watch the football World Cup demonstrates your solidarity with us today.
Rwandans both at home and abroad celebrate this day as a key milestone in our history. It represents the day of triumph of good over evil; bravery over cowardice; light over darkness.
On this day, we remember how brave sons and daughters of Rwanda led by President Paul Kagame, then as Commander of the Rwanda Patriotic Army, starred the devil in the face, put their lives on the line and stopped the march of destruction orchestrated by a bankrupt genocidal regime.
Inaction would have meant the unthinkable: a complete annihilation of once section of society. We can never repay them for their courage and sacrifice, except with our infinite gratitude.”
“While they stopped the genocide, these liberators inherited a wasteland in which a million people were dead, over half a million women raped, a quarter million children rendered orphans prematurely and an economy in tatters.
As President Kagame said in his speech on 4th July, the legacy of genocide meant that the hard work of nation building begun after the guns had fallen silent.
And I can say, without fear of correction, that over the last 20 years since the guns fell silent, our leaders have done an excellent job in rebuilding a fractured society.
Yet much remains to be done to entrench democracy, secure the peace and build shared prosperity for the benefit of all Rwandans,” Amb. Nkurunziza added.
He then thanked the UK for being a true friend during Rwanda’s journey of reconstruction and development as well as the Rwandan community abroad for continuing to be a solid source of strength for their country.
“In our Journey, we have benefited from many international friends and none has been greater than Great Britain. We have also benefited from the passionate and material support of many in our Rwandan communities abroad.
We thank you, but the work is not yet done. Together, we must rededicate ourselves to continued service to ensure we bequeath a more peaceful and prosperous country to posterity ,” he noted.
Amb. Nkurunziza’s sentiments were echoed by Mr Kalisa Karemera who, speaking on behalf of the community, called on Rwandans in UK to promote unity and love for their country; work together to shape the youth as the inheritors of tomorrow and strengthen their community’s economic and social profile by borrowing lessons from best practices in Diaspora development from around the world.
“We must remain united and inspire our children to love their country and contribute to its future development,” he said.