15 November 2012

Rwanda: Meeting the President

With a "legacy of self reliance" as the main theme for discussions, over 2500 Rwandan youth on October 20 met President Paul Kagame at the Petit Stade in Kigali.

The youths comprised of students from universities and institutions of higher learning in the country.

The first of its kind in President Kagame's second term in office, the meeting with the university students was televised on the national television and it was broadcasting live on the national radio--Radio Rwanda.

Other senior government officials including line ministers and permanent secretaries had all attended to witness how the President talks to the students considered future leaders of Rwanda.

The Minister of Education Dr. Vincent Biruta and Culture and Sports Minister Protais Mitali were among the visible senior government officials. Rectors of the participating universities and institutions of higher learning were also present.

Before the interaction, the students first outlined their achievements. Those from the National University of Rwanda (NUR) in south of the country said they regularly meet other youth who did not make it to the university level to discuss issues of development at the village level.

Students from Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) told the President that they help farmers by providing them information about seasons to enable proper planning which results into higher food production.

Other achievements showcased by the students include such as information sharing through news websites like igihe.com, igitondo.com and umuganga.com. Some students also said that they have been taking part in leadership roles at an African level.

Students were also given a chance to ask the President about some of the issues they thought were pressing both on personal and collective level.

Almost every student present had a question for the president. Some questions were being sent through social media sites Twitter and Facebook.

The President addressed most of the questions raised and requested other officials present to provide further explanations on some that needed clarity.

Students particularly asked the President to explain Rwanda's stand on the issues in the DRC. He also touched on freedoms and other development issues which were all raised by students.

But more so the discussion emphasized on "self reliance". In his speech, Mr. Kagame told the students that "as Rwandans we should own our development because we know what we want".

On the issue of freedoms, he said there were many people from other countries who claim that Rwandans have no freedom but that was not true. He said: "No one should tell us what we need or lack."

Mr. Kagame gave an example of a horse and the horse rider, saying that no one whishes to be a horse but everyone should aim to be riders.

"We can't afford to be horses any more, we have been there for too long," Kagame noted while emphasizing why self reliance was necessary.

At the end of the discussion, Mr. Kagame urged all students to work towards a self reliant Rwanda. He said that the youth must be solutions to the country and not problems.

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