KIGALI - President Paul Kagame has been awarded the Global Peace and Unity Services to Humanity Award 2010. The Award was received on behalf of the Head of State by Senate President, Dr Vincent Biruta, during a high-profile interfaith function in London, UK, on October 23, 2010.
The Award was given to President Kagame by the Global Peace and Unity Foundation at the fifth GPU event held in London from October 23 – 24.
“The Award is in recognition of his achievement as a leader who has championed justice, reconciliation and unity of the Rwandan people,” Biruta said upon his return to Kigali.
In presenting the Award, Mohamed Ali, the Chairman of Global Peace and Unity Foundation and CEO of Islam Channel, praised Kagame for being a compassionate leader who has spearheaded the cause of justice, peace and reconciliation in Rwanda.
He emphasized the President’s role in stopping the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and rebuilding the country into a more harmonious, stable and prosperous country that has become a model for Africa and an inspiration to other countries emerging out of conflict.
Ali pointed out that Rwanda, under the leadership of Kagame, has promoted and entrenched the culture of tolerance, peaceful co-existence and, particularly, restored the dignity of Rwandan Muslims, who for a long time, were discriminated against and denied equal opportunities like other Rwandans in the country.
He emphasized that Rwanda has become a model in ensuring harmonious co-existence between Christians and Muslims and the Award was in recognition of this achievement.
The event brought together over 50,000 participants including leaders from various religious groups – Muslims, Jews and Christians; politicians, media, scholars and academics from all parts of the world. The GPU event is recognized as the biggest multifaith gathering of its kind anywhere across Europe. It is aimed at promoting tolerance, unity and peaceful co-existence of people of different faiths.
Dr Biruta delivered a keynote speech on behalf of President Kagame to the audience at the Excel Arena in London in which he argued the importance of overcoming prejudice, intolerance and hatred. He emphasized that “religions preach the oneness of humankind, peace, dialogue, tolerance and coexistence”.
The Senate President called upon leaders and followers of various religions to work together to “promote reconciliation and unity and to overcome their differences for the sake of a more peaceful and harmonious society for the good of humanity.”
“Rwandans chose the path of unity and reconciliation in the aftermath of the tragic 1994 Genocide, and the country’s leadership has worked hard to rebuild the country on the basis of dignity and equal opportunity and rights for all citizens,” Dr Biruta told the gathering.
He highlighted that Rwandans today recognize that they are, first and foremost Rwandans before belonging to any religion or political persuasion.
While in London, Biruta met with the Rwandan Diaspora in the United Kingdom. He urged them to be patriotic and work to effectively contribute to the development of their country while making the best of the opportunities available to them in their adopted country. He also updated them on current events and developments in Rwanda.
He also met with several personalities in the UK, including MPs, and visited Medway Hospital in Kent where some medical doctors are collaborating with their counterparts in Rwanda to set-up a centre for kidney transplant and laparoscopic surgery at King Faysal Hospital in Kigali.