Home Kwibuka29 RPF-Inkotanyi Was Driven By Ideological Clarity And Visionary Leadership – Gen. Kabarebe

RPF-Inkotanyi Was Driven By Ideological Clarity And Visionary Leadership – Gen. Kabarebe

by Edmund Kagire
7:29 pm

Gen. Kabarebe speaks to students and staff of ALU on Tuesday.

The Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) was driven by ideological clarity and a long term vision in its campaign to stop the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and liberate Rwanda from divisive and genocidal rule.

This was said Tuesday by Gen. James Kabarebe, the Special Advisor to President Paul Kagame on security matters, while addressing students of the African Leadership University (ALU) on the role of ethical leadership in addressing contemporary security challenges in Africa.

The interactive session, which was part of the university’s activities to commemorate 29 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, saw Gen. Kabarebe highlight the journey Rwanda has gone through over the past nearly three decades.

Gen. Kabarebe said that for many it is impossible to imagine how RPF pulled it off, with meagre resources in terms of equipment and people, pointing out that it was more about the will and the desire to rescue the country from genocidal forces.

“It’s a very difficult to imagine how we overcame,” Gen. Kabarebe said, revealing that the location where ALU stands today is one of the places RPF forces passed on their way to capture the airport and other places as they raced against time to save as many people as possible.

He said on their way, they would jump over bodies of women and children killed by Interahamwe, checking to see if there are some still breathing and they would rescue them.

Gen. Kabarebe said that when the RPF launched the liberation struggle in October 1990, it faced a major backlash from the Rwandan forces FAR, who were backed by different countries and outnumbered them in terms of armour and human resources but because they were determined, no amount of force could stop them.

Gen. Kabarebe said that without leadership and resolve, RPF wouldn’t have been able to stop the genocide and liberate the country, emphasizing that all successes were conjured by good leadership and vision.

Gen. Kabarebe poses with ALU students and staff after the interactive session.

He pointed out that soon after young people put themselves together in Uganda to attack the country and return home by force, having been refugees for many years, they were met by a strong force from the east, which forced them to retreat.

Gen. Kabarebe said that they were repulsed heavily and some of the commanders died on the first day of the struggle, including Maj. Gen Fred Gisa Rwigema, who was leading from the front.

The attacking forces were in disarray but Paul Kagame, who was pursuing military studies in the U.S, was following the developments closely and he decided to come and take over the mantle.

Leadership seemed to be the single-most thing the RPF needed to regroup and pick up the pieces because the desire to liberate the country kept them resilient and committed to withstand all sorts of challenges.

Apart from leadership, Gen. Kabarebe said that the other factors that played a key role in the liberation struggle was discipline and professionalism which characterised RPF fighters.

He pointed out that professionalism and discipline were exhibited by RPF fighters all the way, including not carrying out revenge killings, even when the fighters found that their family members had just been killed.

“Often that love of our country and determination made us face the enemy, whichever enemy, because we knew we were going to die in our own country,” Gen. Kabarebe said, pointing out that each member of RPF was aware that it was not about them but the country.

He pointed out that young people of different social classes abandoned whatever they were doing to join the struggle, some even abandoning comfortable lives they were living abroad.

Majority did not have any basic military trying but they committed themselves, undergoing quick drills to go on the frontline to face trained and well-armed forces.

He said such resolve also comes with strong decision-making, which is also part of the leadership, adding that the biggest advantage RPF Inkotanyi had over rival forces was superior organisation, which enabled them to achieve more with very little.

Gen. Kabarebe said that even after ending the genocide and liberating the country on July 4, 1994, they had literally nothing to start with -no resources in the treasury but leadership made the difference.

“In the absence of everything, we had visionary leadership from the commander, which was the exception,” Gen. Kabarebe said, adding that some of the decisions taken were seen as ‘risky’ or ‘adventurous’ at the time.

Among them was the integration of thousands of former government forces into the RPF forces at the time when many thought that the former soldiers would be jailed or killed in revenge.

Dr. Nhlanhla Thwala, the Vice Chancellor & Provost of ALU thanked Gen. Kabarebe for taking time to inspire young people on the principles of leadership and determination to achieve one’s ambitions.

Gen. Kabarebe said that some of the integrated ex-FAR soldiers were appointed to high-ranking positions in the army, to the surprise or frustration of many, but it was all about the vision.

After the liberation struggle, he said that RPF chose to focus on the bigger picture, putting aside things like corruption, ethnic divisions, nepotism, sectarianism and other practices that characterised previous governments and set back Rwandans.

Gen. Kabarebe said that after the genocide, many had written off Rwanda, as a collapsed country, whose parts should have been annexed to neighbouring countries but the RPF leadership had other ideas.

The seasoned General said that what RPF has done over the past 29 years has been all about defying odds and proving to the world that if people come together, they can achieve whatever they want, regardless of how limited they can be in terms of resources.

He called on young people, who he said have an opportunity to live and study in their country, to pick lessons from the past and have the resolve to drive the African continent towards the desired levels of development and independence.

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