Ambassador Vrooman’s Speech at Independence Day Celebration

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Ambassador Peter H. Vrooman
U.S. Embassy Kigali Independence Day Celebration
July 3, 2019

Good evening!

I would like to welcome you to the U.S. Embassy in Kigali and on behalf of President Trump and the people of the United States, I want to thank you for joining us to celebrate our 243rd anniversary of our Independence Day.  On  July 4, 1776, our Declaration of Independence put to paper ideals that continue to inspire us to this day:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This evening, on the eve of July 4th, I recognize this shared anniversary with Rwanda’s 25th Liberation Day.  I welcome Honorable Minister of State Ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe for joining us this evening.

N’abanyarwanda bari hano, ejobundi umunsi mukuru w’ubwigenge kandi ejo ni umunsi mukuru wo kwibohora na umunsi mukuru w’ubwigenge wa leta y’America! Umugoroba mwiza!

Tonight, our theme celebrates the music of America and hopefully inspires happiness in all of you.  From the hip-hop scene in New York City, to jazz in New Orleans, Louisiana, America’s street corners, cafes, and concert halls ring out with almost every variety of music.  American music is truly a melting pot, drawing from the rhythms of Africa and the Caribbean, building on the harmonies of European classical music, and weaving in new inspiration all the time.  As American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.”  This is even more true today as music has become one of our most popular American exports, contributing to soundtracks and playlists in even the most remote parts of the world.

As you listen to tonight’s entertainment, the band Makumbi Sound, we hope you will try pairing the music with the selection of food and beverages that highlight famous American musical cities as well.  Seattle, Washington can remind us not just of the grunge music scene of the 1990s, but also delicious seafood.  We celebrate the famous live music tradition in Austin, Texas with tex-mex and tacos.  And don’t forget dessert – a tart slice of key lime pie can highlight the sweetness of an Orlando, Florida boy band’s harmonies.

I would like to thank the U.S. Embassy team led by CW Malinak for all the hard work that went into planning this event, and to the singers of our national anthems and the musicians, chefs, and mixologists entertaining you this evening.

I also want to recognize some of the businesses and investors who are working to contribute to Rwanda’s economic growth and whose generous contributions have helped to make this celebration possible tonight.  A very special thank you to our U.S. corporate sponsors – Culligan for treating all of Kigali’s drinking water, and Sorwathe Tea representing one the first U.S. investments in agribusiness.  Finally, a very warm thank you to Bralirwa brewery and 1,000 Hills Distillery for providing us contributions-in-kind with the beer, soft drinks, and cocktails served this evening.

Please raise your glasses with me to celebrate 243 years of American independence.    Kubuzima byacu!