Kwibuka25: We have a place to claim – President Kagame
President Paul Kagame has thanked Rwandans and friends of Rwanda for their contribution towards rebuilding the country after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The Head of State delivered the message yesterday while officiating at the start of a mourning week to mark, for the 25th time, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The President also used the platform to warn Rwanda’s detractors, saying that the country was ready to fight anybody, in or outside the country, who will attempt to undermine efforts of reconstruction, unity and reconciliation.
The Genocide claimed the lives of more than a million Rwandans and was an attempt to exterminate all Tutsi.
Delivering his address from Kigali in the midst of top political, academic, and business leaders in Rwanda as well as foreign dignitaries Kagame said; “To you, the friends by our side on this heavy day, including the different leaders present, we say thank you.”
He added: “Many of you have been with us all along, and we cherish you for contributing to the healing and re-building of Rwanda.”
The President commended Rwandans for their resilience and determination to work together in rebuilding their country.
“I also thank my fellow Rwandans, who joined hands to recreate this country. In 1994, there was no hope, only darkness. Today, light radiates from this place,” he said.
Visiting Heads of State and Government had in the morning joined the President and First Lady Mrs Jeannette Kagame in lighting the flame of remembrance in commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The lighting of the flame and laying of a wreath took place at the Kigali Genocide Memorial centre where 250,000 victims of the genocide are buried.
The leaders who had the chance to speak also saluted the resilience of Rwandans and pledged cooperation and solidarity with Rwanda.
“I came here to renew the solidarity of the African Union with Rwanda,” said Moussa Faki, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. “It is with great emotion that AU joins Rwanda in this commemoration.
He reiterated the need to work together, highlighting that “no amount of efforts can comfort survivors” of the Genocide.
The President of the European Union, Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, said that “our power as people is based in solidarity,” urging the world to be a more unified force.
Kagame issued a stern warning to those who often deny the Genocide, try to divide Rwandans, and sometimes go out of their way to detract efforts made by Rwandans to rebuild their lives.
He said that Rwandans will fight back and warned that the country is now stronger than before having emerged from a terrible experience of the Genocide.
“We claim no special place, but we have a place to claim. The fighting spirit is alive in us. What happened here will never happen again.
“Rwanda is a very good friend to its friends. We seek peace, we turn the page. But no adversary should underestimate what a formidable force Rwandans have become, as a result of our circumstances.”
He reiterated that; “Nothing has the power to turn Rwandans against each other, ever again. This history will not repeat. That is our firm commitment.”
Foreign leaders at the commemoration event included Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and First Lady Zinash Tayachew, President Idriss Deby of Chad, Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel, President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Congo-Brazzaville Denis Sassou N’gueso, and President of Djibouti Ismaïl Omar Guelleh.
Others included the Governor General of Canada Julie Payette, President of the European Union Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, and AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki among others.
The ceremony was also attended by Former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa, former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo, La Francophonie Secretary-General Louise Mushikiwabo, and Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
Countries from across the world such as France, Germany and Sweden, among others, also sent representatives to join Rwandans in the commemoration.