Today on the 1st July, 2012, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our country’s independence. On the 1st July, 1962, Rwanda regained its right to self-govern, after a long period of German and later Belgian colonial rule.
Today, we are celebrating fifty years of independence and self-governance where in a sense Rwandans are masters of their own destiny. To paraphrase President Kwame Nkrumah, after independence Rwandans regained their natural right to manage or mismanage their own affairs. The United Democratic Forces (UDF-Inkingi) is happy to share this moment of pride and glory with fellow countrymen and women.
Under colonial rule, Rwanda was not considered an entity in itself under the community of nations, it was a subject of the colonialist and Rwandans were subjects of the colonialist Sovereign. We had no rights as a people. Under colonialism, all interests of Rwandans; social, economic or otherwise, were only subject to the whims of the colonial master. It is therefore worth noting that the independence that our Country attained was not given on a silver platter, but rather a result of a difficult struggle. There are patriotic Rwandans who waged this struggle at their own personal cost so that their compatriots could have a better tomorrow.
When we celebrate our independence, in the same breath we are celebrating the lives of those who made ultimate sacrifices so that their compatriots can be a free people.
When we look back down the road since this journey began, a lot has happened to us and our country. Needless to say, not all has been well all along this process. Our country has experienced political turmoil. During the years preceding independence, Rwanda underwent a cycle of sociopolitical violence. The leaders of the time, those from the monarchy first, and then the leaders of the republic, have not been always able to curb social inequalities, some have even encouraged them.
Contrary to expectations of Rwandans, the successive governments have disappointed the people’s hopes and dreams. No Rwandan at independence would have imagined that fifty years down the road, the country would by and large be at the same level in terms of economic growth and development, progress in social cohesion where the peoples thinking would still be stuck in vertical ethnic and regional considerations rather than horizontal class and economic interests. This lack of progress is squarely to blame on the ruling political class who, one leader after another, have always deepened the ethnic divide of our country for political mileage. Instead of celebrating our unity in diversity, they have exploited it politically for individual and group interests.
The climax of horror is undoubtedly the 1994 Rwandan genocide when Rwandans killed other Rwandans, thus creating a deeper schism in the Rwandan society.
It is dismaying to see that we still have not learned from our painful history. The ethnic gap has deepened with the arrival of the RPF in power. President Kagame’s RPF is the expression of a sectarian organization. Since the recruitment of its cadres and supporters to the top of the political, military and judiciary hierarchy, it is the same policy of exclusion that prevails..
Each regime has its own vision of independence. Just like President Habyarimana who had banned the celebration of independence in favor of the festivities of July 05, the anniversary of his military coup, Kagame hijacked Independence celebrations to mark RPF’s own day it refers to as the Liberation Day. Instead of exalting the patriotism and bravery and indeed achievements of those who won Rwanda its nationhood status among the international community of nations, independence celebrations are reduced to acknowledging RPF successes and spoils.
Over the past 18 years, President Kagame and his party RPF have amassed enormous wealth both internally in Rwanda and overseas, particularly in the DRC where they plunder the natural resources of this country and slaughter its population.
During the same period of time, the RPF inner core, starting with the president, have become the nouveaux riche property moguls of Rwanda and the rest of Rwandans have become more impoverished and a disenfranchised class. RPF cadres own Kigali and the rest of cities, Rwandans own the rest of the countryside. This explains the glittering status of Kigali so many are mesmerized with, and the sorry state the rest of the country is in.
Modest citizens are forcefully asked to make financial contribution to the RPF coffers, they are forced to grow cash crops at the expense of food crops hence the perennial hunger and malnutrition that for so long had become a rare occurrence to our nation.
Antidemocratic by nature, the RPF regime has managed to undermine all democratic opposition and silenced all critical voices. Shall we recall the politically motivated arbitrary imprisonment of our chairperson Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the chairman of PS Imberakuri, Maître Bernard Ntaganda, the chairman of the PDP-Imanzi, Deo Mushayidi and so many other victims of injustice.
When Rwandans were jubilating for becoming independent, what they were expecting was their independence to bring them liberty and freedom, economic growth and development and a right to chose their leadership. The country is still as poor as it was; there is neither liberty nor freedom. Instead of democracy there is military dictatorship, no freedom of speech, no human rights and no sense of a common purpose as a united nation. In short, in the words of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, It is not yet Uhuru.
Our Party, the United Democratic Forces (UDF-Inkingi) calls upon all Rwandans not to despair, but have the same determination of our fore-bearers. It is the duty and responsibility of all citizens to correct what they consider wrong in their society. Fighting for independence was not an easier task compared to fighting for democracy and human rights that is the challenge to today’s Rwandans achieving which calls for our collective will and resolve.
Long Live Rwanda, Long Live All Rwandans.
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