A fascinating series of event led to me receiving a personal invitation to the Rwanda Liberation Day event here in Nairobi. My curiosity got the better of me and that Friday afternoon at 3pm I was promptly lined up for the security check at the Rwanda High Commission…
Once inside the beautiful compound, the festive mood was palpable. Guests chatted in a lively manner, while the Rwandese ladies looked elegant in their traditional attire.
On April 6, 1994, an airplane carrying President Habyarimana and the President of Burundi was shot down, and both presidents were killed. The Rwandan Army and militia groups immediately began rounding up and killing all Tutsis and moderate Hutus throughout the country. On July 4, 1994, the RPF took over Kigali. Today, Rwandans across the country celebrate the anniversary of their liberation on July 4. The main celebrations take place at Amahoro Stadium in Kigali.
Here are 12 things you missed at the Nairobi event…
12. A beautiful poem from two charming ladies accompanied by drummers.. Catch the poem in the video below…
11. A mesmerizing traditional dance which was so vigorous the ground shook beneath us as the dancers beautifully choreographed their way to our hearts… The “solo” dance at the end was brilliant! (5:40)
10. Burundian Kidum (Jean-Pierre Nimbona,) one of the most talented East African artists performed his song Mapenzi to the audience.
9. You definitely missed this enthusiastic photographer who took his job very seriously!
8. There was an electric performance by Sauti Sol who are adored by the people of Rwanda… When the sang Kagame at 1:20, the crowd went mental!
7. It turns out that Rwanda has a very active alcohol industry. Ever heard of Banana wine?
6. Rwanda is also a tea and coffee producing country…
5. Did you know that Rwanda also manufactures its own laptops?
4. Other items on display were shoes, bags, chilli oil, milk, juice, and cassava leaves. All of these items are locally produced in Rwanda.
3. Here are the highlights of the speech by the guest of honor, Member of Parliament for Garissa Township, Kenya, Honorable Aden Duale.
- He spoke of Rwanda rewriting its history by rising from the ashes after the genocide, forging on and successfully rebuilding their nation.
- Rwanda continues to rise, advancing into the future with optimism.
- Rwanda is a source of inspiration to the rest of the continent.
- Rwanda’s achievement in empowering women surpasses many countries making it one of the global leaders in this respect.
- By forging our separate identities as individual nations, we have also seen the wisdom of uniting our people to achieve our common aspiration for peace, stability, progress and prosperity.
- Kenya looks forward to maintaining closer cooperation on issues of mutual interest with Rwanda.
- Kenya salutes Rwanda’s achievements and stands in solidarity with the people of Rwanda.
2. From the speech of the High Commissioner of Rwanda to Kenya, James Kimonyo, we learn fascinating facts about Rwanda. Below I have quoted some sections of his speech just for you..
“This celebration marks the time when every Rwandan was given the right and opportunity to become a citizen of Rwanda” Some Rwandans were rendered stateless for over three decades. During the time of independence in 1962 some Rwandans were in exile.
He played a recording from years ago during which President Kagame was addressing Rwandan fighters and said the following.. “If we are fighting this war to end up behaving like those that we are fighting, then there is no point of this struggle. If we are fighting thieves, people who steal from the government with an objective of going there to be another thief, then there is no point of you being here in the bush fighting for freedom.”
Not to show off, but here are some of Rwanda’s achievements in the last 22 years:
- 8% economical growth per annum in the last 15 years.
- 84% primary school enrollment rate because of free primary and high school education.
- Over 64% of women in parliament.
- 95% of Rwandans believe in the government.
- 84% believe in the justice system.
- Rwanda is the fifth largest contributor to peacekeeping missions globally.
- Rwanda is the second best country to do business in Africa after Mauritius.
- Kenya is the largest investor in Rwanda, with more than half a billion USD invested.
- Rwanda happens to be the least corrupt country in Africa.
1. One of the most significant moments of the day occurred during the High Commissioner’s speech. He spoke of the heroes who fought to secure stability for Rwanda during the 100 days of bloodshed. These men and women single handedly ended the genocide. Six of these gentlemen from the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) were in the audience and joined him on stage. They were treated with respect that I have never witnessed before.
There you go! I hope you get to experience the next Rwanda Liberation Day wherever you are!