MONROVIA - Your Excellency Paul Kagame Brave Soldier, Revered Freedom Fighter, Astute Politician, Extraordinary Statesman, dedicated Pan-Africanist, distinguished Public Servant
Your life has been one of exemplary dedication to duty and sacrificial service to the people of Rwanda and Africa. Born in October 1957 in Ruhango, Rwanda’s Southern Province and taken away as a little child in 1960 beginning a 30-year refugee life in Uganda to escape persecution and the ethnic pogroms that characterized your country, you grew to love your people to the point of being ready to lay down your life for their dignity, freedom, peace and unity.
On this course, you prepared yourself through education and training including service in the military and security structures of your country of refuge before assuming the leadership of the Rwanda Patriotic Army in 1990 to prosecute the struggle for the liberation of your native land.
In liberated Rwanda, in 1994, you preferred the Vice Presidency and Defense portfolio as a mark of your legendary humility when higher calling was there for you to take.
You were correctly rewarded for your outstanding services to your people when they elected you President of the Republic in the first ever democratically contested multiparty elections held in August 2003 and you were sworn in on 12 September 2003 for a seven year term, a mandate you are exercising so well.
Throughout your public service career, you have demonstrated in concrete ways and forms that you are indeed a trusted and dedicated fighter for the rights of women.
It is widely known that you firmly believe that participation of women in national life is not only a right but also “good economics” and that neglecting half of the nation’s population is tantamount to self-sabotage.
As a concrete manifestation of this, you lead a government that consistently advocates for and implements actions to advance leadership and participation of women in decision-making and nation-building.
Accordingly, you led the process for a new constitution for your country which explicitly provides for At least 30% women participation in decision-making positions.
Your very active and strong advocacy for women contributed greatly to women winning 56% of seats for the Chamber of Deputies during the 2008 legislative elections – the highest such representation in the world – and with a woman for the first time becoming President of that Chamber.
You have appointed, or caused to be appointed or elected women in numerous significant leadership positions in all branches of government including President of the Supreme Court, key cabinet posts, key command positions in security organs, heads of National Commissions and agencies, Mayor of Kigali, etc.
In consideration of these and more, you have been awarded many international prestigious distinctions and have been invited as a special guest of the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership, Development, International Peace and Security in Monrovia, Liberia, March 7 – 8, 2009.
Now, therefore, as a mark of my admiration and appreciation of your exemplary leadership qualities and your exceptional contribution to the promotion of women rights and advancement of women in leadership not only in Rwanda but Africa as a whole, I, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, by virtue of the authority in me vested as Grand Master of the Order of Distinctions of the Republic of Liberia, do hereby admit you, Paul Kagame, into the Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers, and confer upon you the Grade of Grand Cordon.
Wear this insignia with pride and dignity to the glory of God.”
Citation by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia
MARCH 7, 2009