23 September 2012

Rwanda: President Kagame Rallies the Diaspora

President Paul Kagame called on Rwandans living in the Diaspora to hold on to their dignity and be proud of their Rwandan identity.

He made the remarks while addressing delegates at the second edition of Rwanda Day on Saturday in Boston, Massachusetts in United States.

The Head of State pointed out that the responsibility to build Rwanda squarely rested on the shoulders of Rwandans, both at home and abroad.

"We cannot delegate it to or expect anyone else to do it for us. It should be a source of pride that we are able to drive our development, that we belong to a country of dignified people that have a definite identity as Rwanda," President Kagame told about 2,000 participants on the second and final day of the event.

Rwanda Day 2012 was characterised by speeches and presentations about the current state of development in the country.

"...Many things should and must be challenged. We should not allow anybody to define us without us. We have the ability, desire and the right to define ourselves. We have made good progress in this direction and it must go on. It is what we deserve," he pointed out.

President Kagame told the Diaspora community that Rwandans back home were working hard, individually and collectively, to better their lives.

"Their efforts and yours will undoubtedly take us very far. And that is (how) it should be."

"You must continually tell the story of your country. If you don't, someone else will want to do it for you and will do it the wrong way.

"It is about the history of our country and the people's resilience and dignity. It should all be bound together by determination, our determination to be who we are," he said.

Highlighting Rwanda's journey to development, the President noted the progress thus made was as a result of commitment and hard work.

"The progress we have made has been without shortcuts and lies. We don't tell lies about the fight we make daily to achieve the progress...Progress invites detractors. Still, that is fine; I have no problem with detractors. Detractors do your job, I will do mine," President Kagame told the cheerful audience.

"If our progress hurts anybody, I will say that was not our intention. Our intention was just to make progress," he said to a big applause.

He underscored that his leadership was ready to do the best for its people, and outlined the country's impressive development indicators as shown by international organisations.

"Did you know that in 2011, in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitive Index, Rwanda ranks the third in Africa, And the first in the East African region? That we moved up seven places globally?

"Did you know that Rwanda was ranked among the top most corrupt-free countries in Africa and the whole world?" the President posed.

"Did you also know that our citizens are ranked among the most contented in the world? We were also (ranked) the most improved country in doing business reforms in the world. These are international rankings. The rankings are not made in Rwanda but by international institutions."

He also told Rwandans living abroad, most of whom drew from North America and Europe, that between 2006 and 2011, one million Rwandans lifted themselves out of poverty.

President Kagame challenged the youth not to shun the responsibility of being leaders of their country.

"You shouldn't hesitate to improve yourselves, study hard and improve your talent whenever that opportunity comes. That should improve you as individuals but also your mother nation," he said.

The President also briefed the Diaspora about the recent crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), noting that the situation in the neighbouring country was a result of failure on the part of the Congolese leadership and the international community to solve the causes of conflict there.

Prior to his address, representatives of the Rwandan Diaspora expressed their gratitude over what the country had achieved and pledged their support to ongoing development initiatives.

Dr Egide Karuranga, chairman of the Rwandan Diaspora in Canada, hailed the Rwandan government for transforming his homeland into a respectable nation globally.

He hinted on the past sufferings in the 1970's and 80's which forced many citizens to flee into exile.

Karuranga commended government efforts in promoting unity and reconciliation among all Rwandans. "I remember, at the National university of Rwanda, when we were being asked to sign forms indicating our ethnicity before writing exams," he narrated.

"The same discrimination was prevalent in high school and primary schools. However, today there are many universities in Rwanda and many schools where primary education is free for all."

Rwanda's Honorary Consular in Boston, Bobby Sager said the get-together was out of realisation that those present were making a difference for Rwanda.

"What is it you can do to make a difference for Rwanda? The idea (is) that we all can do our little part, which can be summed to make a huge difference.

"Do you know any seeds inside an apple? "It's easy to find out seeds in an apple but it's impossible to know how many apples can come out of the seeds," he said.

"We are here to plant seeds. Rwanda would not be where it is without the leadership of President Kagame. That leadership has attracted admirers across the world, including businesses," said Sager.

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