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To those that want to be soldiers: Brig Gen Ronald Rwivanga

Is there a more admirable profession than being a soldier? To the youth, we call it a cool job! Yes, there are many others, but being a soldier is special. It’s a profession that brings pride to both the individual and the country they serve. It’s one of the few careers where one commits to self-sacrifice, potentially even losing their life, yet remains forever remembered.

Young people, especially the youth, are the ones who join the military. But can everyone handle this job? Brig Gen Rwivanga Ronald joined the military at a young age, just like us.

We recently spoke to him in Bangui, Central African Republic, where he was monitoring the training of young soldiers trained by the Rwandan Defence Forces. He reflected on his entry into the military.

One common perception about the military is that it involves rigorous training, transforming the individual fundamentally.

Brig Gen Rwivanga smiles when he looks back at that training. He says, “I enjoyed it even though it was tough. After completing it, I began my journey.”

When it comes to women, they too complete this training, demonstrating their capability.

The Deputy Inspector General of the Rwanda National Police, DCG Marie Chantal Ujeneza, explains that there are discouraging notions about women’s ability in the military, suggesting they lack strength and seek easier paths.

Speaking about the training that many fear, she says, “In the military, you learn to be brave, to jump over high places, to leap over ditches, and to climb out of pits.”

“Every time I saw the men doing it well, I would think, if only I could be like them. I never fell into a pit, but I always thought, just give me one chance to jump over it like the men. Sometimes I tried once, twice, or thrice before I could make it out.”

“Any Youth Can Be a Soldier”

Brig Gen Rwivanga says, “The first thing I can tell you is that any youth, whoever they are, can be a good soldier. It depends on the training you give them, but this training must be accompanied by discipline and good leadership.”

He explains that if a soldier is poorly led, “those people you taught to shoot can become bandits.”

He believes, “It’s essential for the youth to receive training, but equally important is to have good leadership that guides them on the right path.”

Reflecting on his early days in the military, he remembers the shooting training.

He recalls, “What comes to mind is that every soldier wants to shoot well, to fulfill the duties their instructors taught them. You see how well they perform drills, there’s something called basic lessons, which include many things like discipline, so even in drills, you can see how well a soldier stands and realize they are fully trained.”

The military is a profession that greatly benefits an individual by building strong discipline based on the rules soldiers follow.

He says, “We have rules in the military that help you love your country, to be honest in different ways.”

Looking back, he is proud of how military work contributes to peace and security. He remarks, “It’s very fulfilling to see in our assigned duties, which involve protecting citizens’ security, how I’ve seen this wherever I have served.”

“We served in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2000, and when we were leaving, the locals protested, saying they wanted the Rwandans to stay.”

“Everywhere Rwanda goes, you can see that we have helped the local citizens. This gives us pride, and it gave me pride as a soldier. I feel it’s a valuable thing to do in life, to feel useful to others.”

Joining the national army is open to people from various backgrounds, starting from those who have completed three years of secondary education, aged between 18 and 23, who wish to become junior soldiers.

For university graduates aspiring to be officers after a year of training, they must not be older than 24 for those who studied general sciences and 27 for those who studied other subjects like medicine and engineering. However, there are many other requirements, detailed in announcements when recruitment time comes.

Straight out of Twitter