Rwanda’s Liberation Day: Time to reflect on heroism and unity

By Alcade Ndemeye
On 4 July 2023 at 09:36

This opinion piece was penned by Alcade Ndemeye. Views expressed in this article are of the author.

As Rwanda celebrates Liberation Day on the 4th of July, the nation commemorates the remarkable journey of freedom and unity that marked a turning point in its history. This day holds immense significance as Rwandans remember the heroism of the RPA soldiers, the armed wing of RPF Inkotanyi, who valiantly fought against the government responsible for the horrific 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It was through their unwavering determination and sacrifice that the Genocide was halted, paving the way for the establishment of the Government of Rwandans’ Unity.

The Liberation Struggle, which began on the 1st of October, 1990, spanned four challenging years before culminating in the capture of Kigali City. Initially commanded by Maj Gen Fred Gisa Rwigema, the RPA soldiers faced formidable opposition from the regime of President Habyarimana and his supporters. Tragically, some of the top commanders lost their lives in the early days of the struggle, leaving gaps in leadership and impacting the morale of the soldiers.

However, it was during this trying period that Major Paul Kagame, who would later become President, assumed command and introduced new tactics that reshaped the course of the struggle. His leadership proved instrumental in the progress made by the RPA forces. On the 2nd of October, tragedy struck as the revered commander Gen Maj Gisa Fred Rwigema was tragically shot dead, further fueling the resolve of the RPA soldiers.

Throughout the struggle, various significant events unfolded that shaped the trajectory of Rwanda’s liberation. From the arrival of foreign troops to the government’s dissemination of false information and the publication of hate-filled propaganda, the nation witnessed the interplay of complex forces and the relentless determination of those seeking freedom from a regime characterized by ethnic divisionism and nepotism.

The struggle was fraught with challenges, including the loss of brave soldiers, political opposition, and the spread of hate speeches inciting violence against the Tutsi population. Despite these obstacles, the RPA soldiers pressed forward, capturing key towns and effectively weakening the grip of the oppressive regime. Their resilience and unwavering commitment to justice and unity in the face of adversity remain a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Rwandan people.

The culmination of the Liberation Struggle occurred on the 4th of July, 1994, when Kigali City was liberated, and the government responsible for the genocide fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo. This momentous victory marked the beginning of the end for the genocide against the Tutsi. In the days and weeks that followed, RPA forces continued to liberate towns across the country, ultimately leading to the installation of the Government of Rwanda’s Unity on the 19th of July. This milestone represented the triumph of hope over despair, unity over division, and justice over oppression.

As Rwanda commemorates the 29th Liberation Anniversary, it is a time for deep reflection and remembrance. It is an occasion to honor the courage and sacrifice of the RPA soldiers and all those who fought tirelessly for a brighter future. It is also an opportunity to recognize the importance of unity and the commitment to build a society that values and protects the dignity and rights of every individual.

Rwanda’s remarkable journey from the dark days of the genocide to its current state of progress and reconciliation serves as an inspiration to the world. The nation’s commitment to unity, healing, and inclusive development has fostered an environment of peace, stability, and economic growth.

Liberation Day is a reminder of the resilience of the Rwandan people and the transformative power of unity in overcoming the deepest divisions.

It is also a call to the international community to recognize and learn from Rwanda’s journey, to understand the consequences of divisionism and hate, and to actively work towards fostering unity, reconciliation, and peace in their own societies.

Happy Liberation Day to all Rwandans!

The Liberation Day holds immense significance as Rwandans remember the heroism of the RPA soldiers, who valiantly fought against the government responsible for the horrific 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.