President Paul Kagame yesterday said that Rwanda’s story - the turbulent and ugly past and the successful journey to recovery, remains intact despite some efforts to distort it.
The President made the remarks while appearing on “Mindspeak” a talk show hosted by Kenyan businessman, Ally-Khan Satchu.
During the 3 hour show, the President took questions from a panel, the audience and from a global public who were following online.
“The story of Rwanda which is closely tied with the story of Africa or East Africa, is an intriguing story with many aspects to it. In the story you find turbulent, tragic episodes but also good aspects too,” Kagame said.
He pointed out that Rwanda’s story is that of vilification and glorification, noting that of the two chapters, it is where the country has come from and where it is going that is most important.
“It is true you find these two chapters of the story. We have a number of people who vilify us, we are not short of that, but we have many who appreciate and think highly of Rwanda,” Kagame said.
The Head of State spoke extensively on a range of issues including the country’s priorities to invest in developing its people. He said that Rwanda’s main resource is her people, especially the youth.
The President noted that 65 per cent of the population in Rwanda is below the age of 25 and the best way to move forward is to invest in young people.
President Kagame emphasised that for Africa to progress further, the continent has to see itself as one family with regional integration efforts aimed at creating one people with one vision.
He said that in the past, the problem has been Africans looking at themselves as different rather than being “brothers and sisters” with one development agenda and that even though this has been overcome, there is still a long way to go.
The Head of State called on African youth to take the mantle and define who they want to be, and what they want to achieve, as that is the only way for Africa to move on.
“The challenge is yours, the challenge is for all of us and we have everything in our hands to achieve what we want to achieve for ourselves, even if it means fighting different battles that we have to fight,” Kagame said.
He emphasised the need for Africans to manage their own affairs and make their own choices, rather than letting other people make decisions on their behalf.
The President challenged the youth to champion this cause and go beyond merely speaking out against how other countries manage the affairs in Africa.
“It is not enough to just say we are tired of this,” Kagame said.
“It is always better to support that by actually moving ahead to do the very things we know we should be doing, to create in ourselves that capacity and to be able to achieve what we want to, including that independence.”
“Nobody is going to hand to you the freedoms, the independence, or the respect you deserve. You must do the things that actually remind others that we deserve respect and people will see it.”
President Kagame pointed out that that is what Rwanda has been doing in the past, a principle that has earned the country many admirers and as well as a few who don’t like it.
He noted that rather than taking every offer thrown at them, it is high time Africans started making choices of what is useful to them, because it is the only way the African dignity can be preserved.
President Kagame also talked extensively about ICT development in Rwanda, the East African Community (EAC) and the need for Africa to empower its own youth to become future leaders in politics and business.
Drawing excitement from the audience, the Head of State also talked about his experience with the social networking forum Twitter and what prompted him to join.
During the show, which was broadcast live on internet and widely viewed, President Kagame received a gift from Ally-Khan Satchu and his wife, who defined the Head of State as a “21st century leader and a true African Statesman.”
It is the first time Mindspeak has been hosted outside Kenya, and according to Ally-Khan, the decision was inspired by an exchange which he had with President Kagame on Twitter.
“I tweeted the President and I could not believe I got a response, and then I found every time I would hear the President on the radio, I would agree with him. I would shake my head in agreement every time I heard him speak on the radio,” Ally-Kahn said.
Allan Kasujja, a prominent Ugandan radio personality was the master of ceremonies, assisted by Kenyan TV personality Eve D’Souza. The talkshow was “tweeted” heavily.