Celebration is an opportunity to recommit Rwanda’s vision, for a peaceful, self-reliant nation, according to officials. By James Tasamba

An eclectic display of color and military might, on the streets of capital Kigali marked the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Rwanda’s independence. 

More than 25,000 people including heads of seven African nations watched the parade, featuring the defense forces and national police personnel, wearing colorful uniforms and marching to revolutionary songs, played by the army band.

On July 4, 1994 the liberation troops secured the capital Kigali. More than one million people mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus had perished in the genocide.

« For three long months in 1994, our country’s survival was in doubt. A segment of the population was being hunted. More than a million people were murdered, »  Rwandan President Paul Kagame said at the event.

« Around us today, are some of the men and women, who protected survivors and led them to safety. You have lived for our country, and those still alive continue to serve it with steadfast devotion. We thank you, » he said.

Kagame mentioned various reasons that sparked attacks on Rwandan Patriotic Front in the 1990s, from neighboring Uganda. He mentioned sufferings of Rwandan refugees who were scattered in different countries as well as the oppression and poverty of those who were left behind in Rwanda.

For decades, Rwandans were treated as objects, to be used and discarded by anyone, especially the powerful, according to him.

« We believed in our right to dignity as Rwandans-this conviction was the starting point of the liberation struggle. The aim was to build a Rwanda with equal rights for all, » he said.

Stating that the fight was unavoidable, he noted that the vision of unity and justice had attracted broad support, because it resonates so strongly with the human spirit. He cited restoring trust and peace, and unity of Rwandans among the country’s achievements.

Francin Mukandoli, a Rwandan trader resident in Remera Kigali city suburb told Anadolu Agency that the day is worth celebrating because it helped the country to get united. He said that 25 years ago, the country was deeply divided.

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