Gen Kabarebe made the disclosure as he delivered a talk on values the youth can pull from the Liberation Struggle.
He was addressing over 600 young people representing their colleagues in the City of Kigali during dialogues dubbed ‘’Rubyiruko Menya Amateka yawe’ aimed at helping them to get deep understanding of the country’s history and learn how they can learn from it to build the nation.
The youth visited Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi and the Campaign Against Genocide Museum in Kimihurura.
These include porters, commercial cyclists and motorcyclists, bartenders, hotel employees, airtime vendors and banks’ agents among others.
Gen Kabarebe told the youth that tragic history witnessed at the memorial and the Campaign Against Genocide Museum in Kimihurura is a product of bad leadership.
“You may have learnt a lot beyond what you already knew in this country. There are people, Rwandans in this country whose actions led to the dreadful history you have witnessed,” he said.
“The tragic history pushed RPF Inkotanyi to take action to change the situation for Rwandans to live in peace and rest assured of in their country,” added Gen Kabarebe," added Gen Kabarebe.
29 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was stopped, Gen Kabarebe said, the country is safe and Rwandans live in harmony.
“All these achievements stem from the youth’s values instilled during the struggle to liberate our country. [...] Military action was not enough. It required values and foundational principles,” he disclosed.
“Today, the country still banks on values instilled among Inkotanyi soldiers during the Liberation Struggle to make progress,” he added Gen Kabarebe.
Values instilled by President Paul Kagame
When Maj Gen Paul Kagame (current President of Rwanda) joined RPA soldiers during the Liberation Struggle, Gen Kabarebe disclosed, they were tired and had withdrawn from captured areas.
As he explained, Maj Gen Paul Kagame took over as the commander and advised them not to give up until they claimed victory because they were fighting for a noble cause.
“The situation was difficult to manage by the time he joined. He realized that the fighting against the enemy, former government which committed the wrongdoings, was not enough. He found it necessary to introduce new tactics,” said Gen Kabarebe.
Values that characterized RPA soldiers played a critical role during the Liberation Struggle and the country continues to build on them to meet its development aspirations.
Gen Kabarebe said that the first value is ‘patriotism’.
“The first value was about patriotism and pay sacrifice so that, when you succumb to gunshots, the other survivor will recognize that you died fighting for the right cause,” he noted.
“When you love a country you die for it. The opposite is betrayal. So, he instilled the value of patriotism among Inkotanyi soldiers who understood him well,” added Gen Kabarebe.
He revealed that RPA soldiers were in a small number at the onset of the Liberation Struggle with inadequate resources.
“Soldiers of the government which committed the wrongdoings were strong. A government has an established army and is backed by partners. That is why partner countries of Rwanda came for reinforcement at the time. These include Belgians, French soldiers and others from Zaire who came and attacked Inkotanyi,” noted Gen Kabarebe.
“Inkotanyi soldiers would not win the battle alone. They drew strength from core values. When the President of the Republic came, Inkotanyi soldiers were exhausted. They had withdrawn and abandoned captured areas.
When he arrived, he said that it is not possible. He told us that the enemy cannot defeat us because we are fighting for a noble cause to liberate the country, change history, and regime in Rwanda, eliminate refugee status, oppression, promote Rwandans’ unity and national development. These reasons do not qualify us for a defeat. We have to fight until we win the battle,” he added.
Gen Kabarebe disclosed that selflessness was another helpful value that characterized soldiers.
“There is no consideration of individual gains. He also instilled among soldiers the spirit of sacrifice and selflessness where you understand that you are fighting for something beyond individual benefits,” he said.
The other value is heroism. According to Gen Kabarebe, someone can be trained on heroism as is the case for cowardice.
“Everyone can become a hero. A well-trained individual can become a hero and another trained to be coward can be so. Those who committed what you witnessed, killing babies, children [...] and more, exhibited cowardice and they were trained for that,” he noted.
“Leaders sat in front on the youth like we are seated here, brought machetes and gave them instructions on what to do. The youth digested the ideology and put into action. So, patriotism, sacrifice and heroism were instilled. Inkotanyi soldiers were trained on heroism. Those who joined the Liberation Struggle were people like you,” he stated.
Hadn’t it been the heroism, Gen Kabarebe disclosed, young people would not have left their families to join the battle.
“It was a mix of people with diverse backgrounds including commercial cyclists, students, casual workers harvesting tea and coffee and herdsmen. It was not an easy task to bring together those people and convince them that they have to embrace patriotism and sacrifice themselves,” he affirmed.
Endurance was another important value because the struggle lasted long from 1st October 1990 to July 1994.
“Four years on battle are very long counting Christmas festivities passing, living in a forest, trenches, eating cons, vulnerability to attacks, getting sick and enduring rain among others,” he said.
“All these challenges required the value of endurance, day and night and to remain dedicated to goals despite spending many restless days. Somebody with those attributes is assured that he/she is stronger than those with ammunition and large number of soldiers,” added Gen Kabarebe.
He highlighted that they would spend three to four days without food but never gave up and kept soldiering on.
“Everything is about mindsets. Endurance goes hand in hand with the value of perseverance and developing patience for whatever happening to you. Those values can be helpful throughout your life. […] You also need them today,” advised Gen Kabarebe.
He also told the youth that RPA soldiers were characterized by the value of consistency.
“Spending the first and second year on battle should not change your mindsets. You have to remain committed to your goals. If you are committed to a noble cause, do not give up,” he noted.
Gen Kabarebe said that there are other values the youth can learn from the Liberation Struggle including making the right choice, setting goals, developing positive mindsets and discipline among others.