President Paul Kagame yesterday told Rwandans in the Diaspora that the country to day presents equal opportunities to all and the government is focusing on giving the people the capacity to live the good lives they are entitled to.
The Head of State made the remarks while addressing over 3, 500 Rwandans living in Europe and friends of Rwanda in the French capital, Paris as he starts his two-day official visit.
President Kagame told the thunderous audience that the Rwanda of today pursues policies where people recognise each other’s differences and beliefs but the most important uniting factor is that they are all “Rwandans.”
He observed that Rwandans have the resolve to move forward as one and that those who don’t want to see themselves as part of this progress will not derail the path Rwandans have chosen.
Urging the Diaspora to be part of the nation building process, the Head of State referred to a case where members of the private sector, the business community in particular, pooled resources to support needy families by providing shelter and cows under one cow per family programme.
President Kagame noted that it is this kind of mindset, the country needs.
The Head of State told the gathering that from initiatives like that, people’s lives have been transformed and there are testimonies to attest to how lives have changed for the better.
“The private sector committed millions to help provide shelter to those Rwandans without a roof on their heads or a cow to those without incomes as a way of supporting their livelihoods,” Kagame said.
“Today, these people have stories to tell, about how they have been transformed. They have the determination and strength to work, even for more. They now earn at the end of month, they save and this means that all they needed was a start up.”
He noted that when such people are empowered, they don’t only build themselves but they also directly contribute to nation building.
The Head of State observed that the gesture by members of the private sector showed that they understand that the less privileged members of society have to be helped to develop themselves.
He observed that what the government and the private sector have in common is to ensure equal progress where no one is left behind and that good politics mean giving people equal opportunities because no one choses to remain poor.
“I don’t know if there is any Rwandan who wishes to be poor, sleep on an empty stomach, or see their children not going to school or fall sick. I don’t know of anyone or any group that wishes to live in absolute poverty,” President Kagame said.
The Head of State called on Rwandans in the Diaspora to focus on things that build their country, reminding them that at the end of the day, they remain Rwandans.
President Kagame said that this is the time for Rwandans to use the opportunities available to them, focus on what they want to be and where their country should be, and that there is no room for complacency.
“Opportunity comes once, when you have a chance, use it. When you relax a bit, the opportunity goes, what we have today is an opportunity. When we waste it for the next 5-10 years, we won’t have it again,” Kagame said.
He pointed out that there are some countries that were at the same level as Rwanda, 3 decades ago, but are now developed and that there are others that have become poorer depending on how they used the opportunities available to them.
He emphasised the need for the Rwandan diaspora to work towards self dependence, observing that some of the countries, including the ones they live in, have the same challenges as Rwanda, yet they think they have the right to question the country’s policies, simply because they provide some aid.
This morning, President Kagame will speak at the French Institute of International Relations. He will also be hosted to a luncheon by President Sarkozy at the Elysee.
Tomorrow, the President will be the guest of honour at a breakfast meeting with members of MEDEF, an organisation of major French business owners.
During the visit President Kagame is scheduled to hold interviews with several French media outlets.