NEW-YORK - Former US President Bill Clinton has said that President Paul Kagame’s greatest achievements are not the socio-economic prosperity or the political stability that he has ushered into Rwanda, but rather the act of freeing hearts and minds of his people after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Awarding President Kagame for his outstanding leadership in transforming Rwanda, the former US president described Kagame as “one of the greatest leaders of our time.”
“I think the great victory of Rwanda was not in the economic growth, the great victory of Rwanda was not even having more than half of parliament as women,” Clinton told his audience.
“The great victory of Rwanda was a victory of the mind and the spirit. And Paul Kagame freed the hearts and minds of his people to think about the future. Leave here with that lesson,” the 42nd President of the US told his audience
For forging a strong, unified and growing nation, Kagame was awarded the 2009 Clinton Global Citizen award in the Public Service category.
In an audience packed with Hollywood celebrities, leading philanthropists, civil rights activists, captains of industries and politicians, Clinton took time to explain his relationship with Rwanda and how he has come to admire Kagame.
He said unlike what is occasionally said that his support for Rwanda was out of a guilty conscience for his inability to act during the 1994 genocide, the former US president described it as “simply wrong”—“I feel rewarded and passionate about what this man (Kagame) is doing.”
In an evening of glamour and performances from leading celebrities, Kagame took the limelight and attention of the evening with Clinton’s remarks that rotated around Kagame’s leadership and Rwanda’s ‘miraculous’ transformation.
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) stated that it recognised Kagame for working to strengthen infrastructure, develop rural health and education systems, increase access to energy in rural areas and develop ties with international business community.
“In a landlocked country with limited resources, Kagame is investing in intellectual capital by partnering with Google, Intel and Cisco to help turn the country into an African technological hub with trained tech professionals.
President Kagame is the first to acknowledge that much more work remains to be done and does not deny that it’s an uphill battle. But he refuses to put a ceiling to his bold and ambitious vision for Rwanda”.
On his part, President Kagame dedicated the award to his nation and thanked Clinton for his friendship and support in different sectors in Rwanda’s development path.
“I receive it with humility and a great sense of responsibility that comes along with that recognition. I also can’t wait to go back home and deliver the award to the people of Rwanda and say this is for you as much as it is for me”.
The President recalled his 27 years as a refugee and the liberation wars he has participated in, which he said had taught him one thing; ‘that wherever a good will and cause exists, there’s always a way.”
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) brings together a community of global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Others awarded in the same category as President Kagame were the first female Kuwait Member of Parliament, Dr. Rola Dashti, Quincy Jones, a philanthropist and music producer, awarded for his outstanding accomplishments in the music world and humanitarian work.
A Somali civil rights activist, Elmin Amin was awarded for championing rights of women and children in the war ravaged nation.