The New Times (Kigali)

18 December 2012

Rwanda: Gicumbi to Host Liberation Museum

PRESIDENT Paul Kagame yesterday laid the foundation stone for the proposed Liberation Museum in Kaniga Cell (previously called Mulindi) with a call to Rwandans to ensure that the seeds of the liberation struggle continue to benefit all Rwandans.

"We must know where we come from to know where we are going and what we must do to get there. Today it is your responsibility to work hard to ensure the seed sown by the liberation struggle continues to benefit all Rwandans. I am confident that building on our history, we will accomplish even more in the coming years," Kagame told hundreds of residents who turned up to witness the historic event in Gicumbi District.

The Head of State accompanied by the First Lady Jeannette Kagame and other senior government officials, toured the cave which was the operational base of the then Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA), the force that is credited for stopping the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

The event was part of activities in the run-up to the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) Silver Jubilee celebrations slated for Thursday, December 20.

Kagame said the Liberation Museum will serve as a memorial for the 1990-94 liberation struggle mainly for Mulindi residents and Rwandans in general.

"Mulindi attaches a great importance towards the liberation of this country because it reminds us a lot of things that happened here and shaped our destiny," Kagame noted.

The establishment, which sits atop a hill surrounded by expansive tea plantations, served as the RPA headquarters between 1992 and 1994, under the command of President Paul Kagame. The RPF/A struggle was launched on October 1, 1990, with the objective of fighting the injustice and discrimination that had characterised Rwanda for decades.

"Today we came here to remind ourselves where we came from, where we are heading, and chart the way forward for the future of our country," he said.

The President disclosed that all RPF meetings, plans and communication strategies, among others, that helped to overthrow the former regime took place in Mulindi.

Kagame, who is also the RPF National Chairman, observed that the museum will always tell the liberation story, explain to younger generations the role it played towards achieving the developments that are currently taking place in the country.

"There is still a long way to go to achieve our development vision but it's the responsibility of every Rwandan to work hard and ensure the seeds sown by the struggle at Mulindi continue to benefit all of us," the Head of State said.

The President thanked the residents of Mulindi for playing a pivotal role in the struggle and reminded them that the government appreciates the seeds they sowed which resulted into liberation.

"You cooperated with us and provided us a serene environment during the struggle. We provided you peace during the war because you accorded us peace as well. Accepting to be part of the liberation struggle, it enabled us to enjoy the peaceful Rwanda of today," the President told Mulindi residents.

Kagame said that the political discipline that defined RPF combatants during the struggle is the basis for Rwanda's continuous struggle for self-reliance.

He pointed out that RPF has been in existence for 25 years--which is not a long time-- but because of what the party has gone through, it's like its 75 years old.

"When you face a lot of challenges/troubles in life you grow old so fast," Kagame explained.

He called on Gicumbi residents to work hard to build on the foundation that has already been laid. The President said when people work hard economically they not only develop themselves but their country.

"We should continue to remember and writing more of our history but this shouldn't stop us from moving forward for a better future," said Kagame.

The ceremony attracted members of Rwandans in the Diaspora, who were in the country to attend the just concluded National Dialogue (Umushyikirano) and the Diaspora Convention that takes place today.

Isaie Nsengiyumva, one of the residents who witnessed the liberation struggle, hailed RPA for being disciplined rebels then.

"They provided us with medical facilities, education for our children, we were very glad to cooperate with them (rebels) because the regime at the time was harsh to our lives," he added.

"I had not seen the RPA soldiers and I feared to meet them because the Habyarimana government told us, these were not human beings, they had tails, big ears but when we encountered them we found them to be friendly human beings," Nsengiyumva reminisced.

According to Protais Mitali, the Minister of Sports and Culture, preserving history is very important for the future generation to know what happened in Rwanda.

"This museum becomes part of other museums in the country that have a lot to teach us when it comes to Rwandan history. It will always be a memorial for RPF liberation struggle," he said.

Mitali added that Mulindi liberation museum will serve as the headquarters of other liberation museums in the country.

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