Kigali: By the time Rwanda's capital Kigali fell on July 4, 1994, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) rebel movement - had been engaging then government forces in a four-year armed liberation struggle. Behind the frontline, the Genocide was taking its heavy toll. Over a million Tutsis were killed between April and July 1994.
The world just sat back. Even the United States, with President Bill Clinton in office were adamant to act.
Twenty years down the road, Rwandans gathered at the country's largest Stadium, Amahoro in the capital Kigali, to celebrate the rebirth of the nation. There were elaborate displays across the country celebrating the mood of an excited nation.
Today, the word liberation has taken a developmental undertone in Rwanda. In Mulindi in the North for instance, where the RPF rebels had their headquarters. People say, “Look at how many new hospitals, schools, roads, and electricity we have today!" And they equate these new infrastructures to liberation.
Florence Iribagiza, a Mulindi resident, now has electricity and a hospital within walking distance. Her incomes have rocketed, so has the economy.
In 1998, the budget grew to Rwf38billion. But the circumstances were worse. Rwanda could only raise 30% of the budget. The remaining 70% came from donors.
Today, its annual budget stands at more than Rwf1.9 trillion ($1.8bn), and over 63% of the budget is funded domestically. Economy grew at an average of 8% over the last ten years. School enrolment is over 90%.
More than 98% of Rwandans have health insurance. International visitors have rated Kigali as the cleanest city in Africa. The military, an institution of oppression 20 years ago, is now busy building schools and other national infrastructure. In June it launched a project to construct 500 health centers around the country.
For the D-Day July 4th, there were parties all across the country. The biggest was in the national stadium in the capital Kigali addressed by President Kagame and other regional leaders. “We still have a long way to go, but Rwanda has been able to come this far because we owned up." said Kagame.
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