President Paul Kagame yesterday urged Rwandan youth to uphold their identity and stay true to who they are.
The Head of State made the call while officiating at the closure of a two-week Itorero, a civic education course for Rwandan youth studying abroad that was held at Gabiro School of Infantry in the Eastern Province.
“Identity is not an individual quality, it is a shared value. Itorero is about an education that values our identity and our culture. No matter where you were born, where you chose to work or where you live, your nation is part of you and you are part of it. Nothing should stand in the way of staying true to who you are,” Kagame told the students.
A total of 269 Rwandan youth studying in 21 countries around the world completed the training, which was held under the theme of “Ndi umunyarwanda: The legacy for prosperity.”
(Video: President Kagame Meeting with Itorero Indangamirwa VII)
Ndi Umunyarwanda (translated as “I am Rwandan”) is a current national campaign aimed at healing and unifying Rwandans against a background of discriminatory policies that led to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The youth received lessons on the history of Rwanda, the country’s post-Genocide social and economic transformation, as well as common values that will drive the nation to Vision 2020.
President Kagame challenged the youth to take responsibility and face the challenges of Rwanda and Africa:
“As Africans, why are you begging from somebody who is as capable as you are and as good as you are. Challenge yourself. Always think that you can do better because you can do it and you deserve better. If you have the tools and if you want to improve your life, why would you wait another moment to do it?”
“The Rwanda of tomorrow is you. Ask yourself, what will you be when it is your turn to lead? What will you be willing to fight for or even die for?” Kagame added.
The new Minister for Education, Prof Silas Lwakabamba, thanked the students for having participated in the training and assured them of the government’s support as they work to achieve their dreams.
A Computer Science and Economics student studying in the United States said in an interview that aspects of the country’s pre-colonial culture such as unity among Rwandans needed to be cherished in order to make Rwandans a powerful people again.
“The core values of the Rwandan people will continue to shape my life,” said Ian Manzi Sekamana, pointing to patriotism and dignity as core values that define Rwandans.
“We also need to uphold our language and culture,”Manzi added.
Lea Tumusiime, who is pursuing a master’s degree programme in Biotechnology in India, said the course had boosted her confidence.
“I feel very encouraged to serve my country. Rwanda needs more services and we, as students, need to put in action what we are studying,” she said in an interview.
Kagame encouraged the youth to keep working hard to achieve their goals.
“If you expect anything to come to you the easy way, you will probably never get it,” he said.
The Itorero taskforce, in collaboration with different ministries, has been organising the youth camp that promotes civic education among the Rwandan youth for the last seven years.
Students in the country also attend the camp prior to joining university. The activities include participating in voluntarily work.