Rwandans yesterday joined the rest of the world in marking the International Day of Peace, with a call to the youth to embrace the culture of peace-making and for adults to nurture it among the young.
The message was delivered in Parliament where participants, especially the youth, gathered to mark the day and spread messages of hope and peace to the rest of citizens and world.
The youth were especially called upon to grow up with a culture of peace and spread it in the country and their communities.
The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Donatille Mukabalisa, urged the youth to grow up with a sense of respect for the values of dignity and human rights, avoid drug abuse, and watch out against human trafficking.
"It is now a culture in Rwanda that whenever there are problems we work collectively to address them and find appropriate solutions. You, the youth, are our hope for maintaining the good achievements in our country," Mukabalisa said.
The day is observed around the world every year on September 21. The UN General Assembly declared it as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.
Yesterday's Peace Day was marked worldwide under a global theme to strengthen respect for safety and dignity for all, with a special focus on solidarity with refugees and migrants who were forced to flee their countries.
Young people were especially called upon to play a vital role in volunteering to welcome and help refugees and migrants in their communities as well as extend a hand of friendship to young refugees and migrants who they might meet in their classrooms and neighbourhoods.
Speaking at the event, the UN resident coordinator, Fode Ndiaye, thanked Rwanda's leadership for championing peace in the country and promoting unity and reconciliation among citizens.
"Together we can build peace. Together, let's build bridges and let's turn fear into hope," Ndiaye said.
He reiterated that peace is the foundation of development and that it remains both the desire and right for all people.
Experts at the event in Kigali said peace and stability in Rwanda were in the past deeply disturbed by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and that its consequences remain some of the causes for current challenges at peace building.
Eric Ndushabandi, the director of the Kigali-based Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), said current challenges to peace-making in the country include domestic violence, corruption and nepotism, as well as drug abuse.
He urged parents to raise their children with a sense of peace promotion and advised that the country needs a revolutionary education system that is peace-oriented.
Yesterday's global theme for celebrating the International Day of Peace honoured the spirit of TOGETHER, a UN campaign that promotes respect for safety and dignity of refugees and migrants, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres also called for resisting cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbours as 'the other'.
What the youth said
Innocent Habumugisha, 28-year-old law student at ULK (Université Libre de Kigali).
'The day means a lot for me, especially that peace is a pillar for everything. Every success, whether it's development or any other positive achievements, is a result of peace.'
Fiacre Singizwa, a 23-year-old peace activist and volunteer at Kigali-based Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP). 'As Rwandans, we know that peace is the pillar of all we have achieved today. Since we know the value of peace, we are ready to fight for it and keep what we have gained as part of peace-making efforts by the women and men of this country. As young people, we would like to spread the message of peace everywhere in the world.'
Cynthia Iradukunda, 15-year-old secondary school student in Rwamagana, Eastern Province. 'My message to the youth is that we should continue to build peace in Rwanda and everywhere in the world. What I want to change in our life today is that we can help each other more in our neighbourhoods and also be closer to the youth to hear their ideas.'
Viviane Mutangana, student at UR's College of Business and Economics. 'My message to the youth today is that every person should strive for peace because without peace there is no happiness in life. Nations can't be successful or developed without peace in our hearts and we are the ones to make it happen. As the youth, we are the power of our countries, especially us women.'
Compiled by Eugene Kwibuka