How Kagame replaced Rwigema for U.S. training before liberation war #rwanda #RwOT


Speaking ahead of his campaign rally in Gicumbi District, the RPF-Inkotanyi Presidential candidate disclosed that it was the Late Fred Gisa Rwigema who was supposed to be sent to the US for military training. Kagame was meant to go to Nigeria.

Ugandan authorities had picked Fred for the opportunity but it coincided with an existing plan by Rwandan refugees serving in the Ugandan army to initiate a liberation struggle in the early '90s.

As then, Rwigema decided to decline the opportunity and preferred to stay behind to lead the newly formed military wing of the RPF with a sole aim of toppling the Genocidal regime of the Juvenal Habyarimana.

'That's how I ended up going to the US,' Kagame said during the interaction with various content creators at Mulindi, where RPF and its army wing, RPA, were headquartered.

Several Rwandans held senior ranks in the military at the time and the Ugandan authorities plotted to send them for training in different countries as part of what President Kagame termed as a plot to destabilize their mission to liberate their own motherland.

'It was not me who was supposed to go for that course. I remember even when I arrived, I had to change the documents because everything was registered in Fred Rwigema's names,' he disclosed.

'When we started organizing, the Ugandans got to know about it. We were doing it discreetly and even encouraging Rwandans from other parts to join the army. Some of us had had the opportunity of being part of the struggle from the beginning,' he recalls.

According to him, the Ugandan system wanted to disorganize their initial plan by sending the top four Rwandan commanders to attend courses outside the country.

Apart from him and Rwigema, Kagame said, "Peter Baingana was destined for Russia while Chris Bunyenyezi was supposed to be sent to some other place but we all agreed to go by our initial plans otherwise we would have to wait for another five years or something,'

He noted that when his group got to know about it, they decided to act fast. 'I talked with Fred and encouraged him not to go anywhere.'

After declining the offer, Rwigema had to be replaced with Kagame.

"Of course, it created a bit of trouble but in the end, he was told that since he had rejected, then I had no choice but to go. They said it had to be either him or me,' he recalls.

To Kagame, this was a clear indication that authorities in the Ugandan army wanted the two separated. They thought if they got rid of one, they would create problems for the other.

'I went back and told Fred that our secrete plans had been discovered. So to avoid a possibility of going to jail, I just accepted the offer otherwise I also did not want,' he reminisces.

He further encouraged Rwigema to go ahead with the plans, promising to find his way back once the implementation stage came.

Unfortunately Rwigema died on the second day of the liberation struggle on October 2, 1990.

His unfortunate death Rwigema forced Kagame to cut short his training in the US and returned to take on the mantle as the leader of struggle.

The RPA forces settled at Mulindi in Gicumbi District, where they established their base. It was at this location that Kagame and the content creators toured and held a conversation ahead of the RPF Inkotanyi presidential candidate's campaign in the area on Tuesday July 9, 2024.

As a matter of fact, prominent RPF Inkotanyi politicians and senior RPA military officers all stayed at Mulindi during the liberation struggle.

During Tuesday's engagement, Kagame described an emotional incident when he stayed with his firstborn son, Ivan, in the house for about a week to bond with him.

'When Habyarimana's plane crashed, the boy was here with me,' Kagame recalled.

All the strategies and meetings that helped the RPA liberate Rwanda, and the ideas used in the Arusha peace talks, were conceived in the area famously known as 'Umulindi w'Intwari'.

When the Genocide against the Tutsi began on April 7, 1994, it was from this area that the RPA forces emerged to stop it, making Gicumbi among the first districts where RPA forces halted the genocide.

To preserve the liberation history, the National Liberation Museum Park was established at Umulindi w'Intwari to honour the RPA's fight.


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