KIGALI - President Paul Kagame, on Thursday evening, received the 2010 Global Peace and Unity (GPU) Services to Humanity Award, and described the prize as a tribute to the efforts of all Rwandans and the Government.
“The Service to Humanity Award is a special tribute to the determination of our citizens and the government to build a country that we all can comfortably call our own, and our home,” Kagame said after receiving the award.
Addressing a gathering of government officials, religious leaders, foreign dignitaries and members of the diplomatic corps, the President noted that the award is a recognition of the country’s efforts to rebuild herself, under strenuous and challenging conditions.
The President was handed the award by Mohamed Ali, the Chairman of Global Peace and Unity Foundation and CEO of Islam Channel, at the end of the Great Lakes Inter-Faith Network Conference in Kigali, which brought together Religious leaders from across the region.
Ali, described President Kagame as a compassionate leader who has spearheaded the cause of justice, peace and reconciliation in Rwanda, a country that came out of the ashes to become a cradle of unity and reconciliation.
He went on to explain why President Kagame was the 2010 Service to Humanity award.
“Towards the end of the genocide, the world thought there was going to be more bloodshed in form of revenge killings as the new government took over from the genocidal regime, but scholars and the western media were proved wrong when the forces led by Kagame advocated for a peace and unity government,” Ali said.
“We looked at people who showed humanity through charity, giving food, education, we looked at people who wrote books, people who promoted peace and tolerance, but we found one person who did all that in one-President Kagame.”
In his acceptance speech, the President commended the GPU foundation for promoting peace, unity, reconciliation and development, noting that the GPU initiative complements the same ideas advocated for by the Government of Rwanda.
Kagame advised that in this era, people should shun ideas that propagate conflict and divisions of the kind spread by Rwanda’s past leadership.
“In Rwanda, conflicts were fuelled by hatred, division and intolerance. These are the same barriers that still divide the people of much of the Great Lakes Region and contribute to conflict,”
“I am glad, however, to say that a lot of progress has been made,” President Kagame said, adding that conflict, division and bad governance should be shunned and never tolerated.
In reference to Ali’s observation of how some sections of the Western media promote a negative image of African countries, President Kagame said that it is unfortunate that some people in the west criticise countries where they have never set foot. But, added that, more often, their attitudes change after visiting those particular countries.
Turning to development partners and diplomats, President Kagame emphasised that the choices Rwandans have made in their daily lives, for the last 16 years, are for their own interests and that it will be impossible for other people to try and make such choices for them.
“At the end of the day, the future of our own country remains in our own hands---there is never change, there is never transformation without making the right choices for yourself,” Kagame said.
The President went on to add that Rwanda will continue to be a good partner to those that seek a partnership based on mutual respect, pointing out that it will be a futile attempt for partners to determine the future of the Rwandan people.
The event was also attended by representatives of Rwandans living in London and religious leaders from the region.
Bishop Nathan Gasatura presided over the event.
The Global Peace and Unity Foundation (GPU) is a social event initiated in 2005 in support of British Moslem Communities. It is supported by the Metropolitan Police, Moslem Council of Britain, British Moslem Firm and more.