President Paul Kagame has called on Africans to be courageous enough and own up to their own actions instead of blaming their problems on external actors.
He was speaking yesterday in Kigali at the opening of a two-day forum of over 100 youths drawn from about 43 African countries hosted by the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS).
At the gathering, dubbed the ‘2014 Annual African Youth Dialogue’, delegates are exploring ways of how the African youth can play an instrumental role in African elections and governance.
The inaugural AAYD was held in Ghana last year.
Kagame called on the African youth to move beyond rhetoric and put into actions what they already know is good for them.
“The blame for what is wrong goes around but we also need
responsibility to go around,” he said. “It’s not enough to know.
Knowing is not an end in itself. The aim is applying what you know.”
Challenging Africans to rise up and shape their destiny, Kagame said: “We have accepted a sense of mediocrity and a tendency to look at the others and not at ourselves for solutions.”
Kagame said African children need to be given the right upbringing, one that would turn them into responsible adults who will not seek to shift African misfortunes to others – especially former colonial masters – but rather hold themselves accountable for their situation.
“You need to be stubborn. As they stay on course of causing you problems, you stay on the course of pushing back,” he said, adding that Africans should not sit back while citizens of western countries continue to fund the continent’s development.
“We may wait for another 100 years if we keep thinking Western taxpayers are responsible for our development.”
He added: “We should be getting impatient about the pace of our development. The question is what do we do to accelerate?”
President Kagame also questioned the fact that resource-rich African countries often get caught up in senseless wars fuelled by the very resources that should be improving the livelihoods of the citizens.
“Why should resources be a curse? Lack of resources is what should be the curse...Why should we allow ourselves to be victims caught up in a war between East and West for our resources?”
When asked about the role of the youth in fighting corruption, Kagame asked the youth to begin by their own action.
“Fight corruption by not participating in it. Aspire to achieve progress by doing decent things,” he said.
He said fighting corruption needed a collective change of attitude, understanding that corruption impoverishes more people than the few it enriches.
Participants also examined the challenge of violence associated with African elections in which the youth are often used as “foot soldiers” by corrupt politicians.
The youths shared ideas on how best social media can be used for positive campaigns leading to the election of the most competent candidates.
The Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) was founded by Dr Nkosana Moyo who moderated yesterday’s interactive discussion with President Kagame. As a continental organisation, MINDS aims to provide a forum for dialogue on African governance and economic development.
Its founders say the institution emerged out of the observation that development efforts in Africa have failed to meet expectations with respect to social, institutional and economic outcomes in comparison to other regions of the world such as Asia.