A few weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the World Values Network Award Ceremony in New York City where President Paul Kagame was awarded that organisation’s highest honor.
President Kagame was presented with Miriam and Sheldon Adelson Award for Outstanding friendship to the Jewish People. The excitement among the people attending this event was astonishing.
As I listened to the many speeches and random conversations, it seemed that everyone had Rwanda or Paul Kagame on their lips – their admiration was paramount. Every conversation and every comment became synonymous with peace, integrity and dedication for the road to this acknowledgement.
Kagame is a man born of the people and as one speaker said, “truly, a modern day hero!”
The thousands of people who attended this celebratory dinner knew of Rwanda’s past but they were far more interested in the many recent achievements made by Rwanda and the future dreams.
There were many passionate discussions about the overwhelming progress in the Kagame years. In other conversations, attendees from Canada and Israel were speaking about the state of education in Rwanda.
A lawyer from Montreal, Canada openly marveled at the progress specific to education. She said, “look at what these dedicated people have done. Statistics do not lie; the Rwandan people and their government can show great pride through the opportunities in education. Just look at the progress.
In Rwanda, enrollment in secondary schools has increased 20 times in last decade; Rwanda has the THIRD fastest growing rate of Sub-Saharan countries of students enrolling in US colleges (Education USA). President Kagame’s influence, and his internationally held respect, has led for the development of worldwide, programs and partnerships in career planning – Rwandan Career Planning System (RCPS) and the Rwandan Teacher Education Program with the goal of improving teaching and building capacity for the whole country! There are programs to help our young scientists and technologists bring unique insight into the Rwanda classroom.
This is not just truth, these are witnessed facts. The Rwandans are creating success!
That evening’s attendees marveled at the outstanding enhancements in Rwanda’s vast infrastructure improvements, roads being rebuilt with many more to come, water system refinements, food system quality solutions and especially Rwanda as been leader in world climate change.
Many individuals speaking with great affinity about programs that have students in Rwanda preparing for future careers in business, finance, entrepreneurship and both primary and secondary education.
A Belgian attendee, born and educated in Rwanda, stated that he had great pride in knowing that, the percentage of students attending Rwandan schools in Rwanda is at an all-time high.
This is substantiated by the internationally acclaimed Brookings Institution when in January of 2017 it stated that, “President Paul Kagame has improved stability and economic growth in Rwanda since the 1994 Genocide.
President Kagame plans to move the country, and perhaps this region, to middle-income status and even more stable democracy....”
Since late in 2013, I have personally witnessed this move toward stability and this government’s encouragement for growth both individually as citizens but also as a province, a nation and through the diaspora. President Kagame, taking the podium, said looking to the sky, Rwanda, this is our chance! There were many smiles and a few “bravo” that came from this crowd but more over there is the realization that this government, is lead by a hard working and devoted president where limits are in place only as goals that we keep setting for ourselves.
The statement from such an esteemed body as the Brookings Institute are just a few of the truthful statistical recognitions that show that the dream that is Rwanda - works. The success is also recognized by the World Bank which shared some impressive data on Rwanda and the goals that have been set and those that have been reached.
The World Bank has commented on Rwanda development successes over the last decade. These include, rapid poverty reduction and, since 2005, reduced financial inequality. Between 2001and 2015, real GDP growth averaged at about 8% per annum.
Recovering from the 2012 aid shortfall, the economy grew 7% in 2014 and 7.5% in 2015, up from 4.7% in 2013. These World Bank facts are a testament to the integrity of the republic.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, TV host, American Orthodox Rabbi, and Founder of the Jewish Values network proclaimed a long list of Rwanda and President Kagame’s successes. The Rabbi, praised Kagame as being the only man with the strength to work to stop the 1994 Genocide, the rabbi raised his hands and looking to the sky said “Paul Kagame is the only living man to stop a Genocide....He is a personal friend of the Jewish people.Finally, people are saying what should have been saying for many years. Rwanda, in 1994, left along to fend for itself is now known as the peace maker of Africa and now a peace leader in the world.
“Rwanda has now great integrity and this was born in Rwanda.” That is the impressive truth of Rwanda that is witnessed from New York to Kigali, from London to Johannesburg, Rwanda represents the dawn of new day. President Kagame and his devoted team has set integrity, success and vision into motion.
In this world where so much is random and so much is dangerous, the Rwandan government, the people of Rwanda, the diaspora, inshuti and admirers of Rwanda will agree that with the right leadership, Rwanda will continue to succeed.
With all the statistical evidence, is there any other choice but continuing this success?
The author is the Director of the Rwandan Teacher Education Program at the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Connecticut, USA.