By Athan Tashobya
The First Lady Jeannette Kagame has called on government leaders to recommit to fostering unity and common Rwandan identity among citizens, saying it is the foundation for continued national progress.
While addressing Unity Club members, on day two of the association’s 10th Annual Forum, yesterday in Kigali, the First Lady reiterated the need for leaders to work towards creating “Ndi Umunyarwanda” identity among Rwandans, if the nation is to lay a firm ground for a united present day and future Rwanda.
Unity Club is an association of current and former cabinet ministers and their spouses, that has been instrumental in promoting social cohesion and contributing to the country’s sustainable socio-economic development.
However, this club’s annual forum also involved local government officials and heads of key public institutions who took part in deliberations on how best they can harness mutual responsibility in addressing social problems hindering Rwanda’s development.
Mrs Kagame noted that Rwanda has adopted several unique approaches, Unity Club being among, that have seen the country recover from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that claimed over 1 million people, and is now registering somewhat unprecedented progress in several sectors.
“For the last 21 years, Rwanda chose unmanning unity, reconciliation and development. We want to hail those that sow the seed of unity among us and now we have started to see fruits of that unique approach.
“Rwanda has been unique in its way of using homegrown solutions to address different challenges. Unity Club is a leadership test we use to measure our unity. Don’t drop your guard, the journey continues,” First Lady said.
Mrs Kagame, who is also the Club’s Chairperson, urged leaders to carry on with such kind of uniqueness in forging solutions that will push the agenda of building a peaceful, united and developed nation.
“We must be visionary leaders because we carry the light of those that we lead,” she added.
Formed in 1996, just two years after the Genocide, Unity Club has been involved with promoting unity, gender parity, and advocating for the socio-economic wellbeing of disadvantaged groups, with particular emphasis on orphans and widows.
Fidele Ndayisaba, the executive secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), said that ‘Ndi Umunyarwanda’ campaign has significantly extended its roots among Rwandans with a recent survey showing about 70 per cent of nationals view themselves primarily as Rwandans.
“Leaders have a great role to play to ensure that even the remaining 30 per cent of our citizens are able to believe that they are actually Rwandans rather than seeing themselves within the ethnic prism,” Ndayisaba said.
The club has over the years organised and implemented construction of 20 houses for orphans who grew up in Noel and Nyundo orphanage centres, as well as advocated for the construction of 90 houses for Genocide survivors in Nyamagabe and other districts, among others.
It also plans to build another house in Rusizi District that will accommodate 50 elderly Genocide survivors, next year.
MP Juliana Kantengwa, one of the panelists during a panel discussion that addressed inclusive governance, urged leaders to address the unemployment issue, emphasising the need to match job opportunities and job creation with available job-seekers.
She also urged leaders to strengthen family values which she said will consequently nurture responsible citizens.