News of Rwanda (Kigali)

14 January 2013

Rwanda: President's Speech At National Prayer Breakfast

Good morning everyone. In reference to what Rutayisire said, I found there was no envelope where I was seated, and now since I had to ask for it myself, he will give me a hundred envelopes when I only need one, it's enough and will carry all I need.

First of all, I want to thank you for extending an invitation to me, but most of all how you have prepared this function in which you invited me. It helps us all come together, to offer thanks for what we are given, and what we have achieved together. This is good, and is necessary for a people or country aspiring to achieve a lot. When a country or people want to achieve a lot of great things, they must have a culture, which enables them to achieve this. It doesn't just happen by chance.

I'll say it again, and I've said it before many times, being thankful and appreciative, praying, respecting God that alone, does not get you what you want. There is a lot more involved. You must add to that your own initiative, God provides bare necessities, and the rest is up to you.

I also wish, while starting off my speech, to wish you a Happy New Year, this one we just commenced.

I also wish to thank the one who gave us this great talk, among the problems we encounter, some of us are at times lucky. Many times, I assume the podium to give a speech, and those who spoke before me say what I also wanted to say. They then make my job easier, since in that case, all I have to do is add to what they said, emphasize what they said, or say it slightly differently.

I think I've said it numerous times before, in other places where I have been invited, when Rutayisire has spoken, he seemed to have taken the speech that I had prepared, and delivered it, since what he said was so similar to what I was planning on saying. But in any case, maybe that is how it is supposed to be, since we generally have a similar train of thought and agenda.

The example of Singapore that was given is a great, miraculous example indeed. And for Singapore to reach where it is today, coming from where they were we all know about, I think they applied the same principles I mentioned. God was generous with Singapore, and blessed them; they thereafter played their part and achieved all they wanted to achieve.

What God gave Singapore is the same or similar to what he gave us. The difference is whether people are ready and willing to do what is required to achieve their goals. Singapore was blessed, just as we have been blessed, and they then based on this and put in the required effort to achieve their goals. We have to do the same. What I mean here is, I don't mean to say we become Singapore, since we cannot become Singapore, we are Rwanda, but we can be like Singapore. That is the difference. You cannot be Singapore, but you can be like Singapore. We can work like Singapore, or like the Singaporeans, you can be like them. Being like them means that you can come from where you are now, and reach where you want to get to, as they did. This is what people mean when they give profound examples such as those.

And, if you pay close attention, the principles used are widely known and have been repeated many times, if you try to remember, you'll find that we talk about these things among ourselves all the time. You always hear it. In fact, you yourselves always give examples based on this. You discuss this on various levels. We all discuss this at different levels. The main thing, the missing link, that will bridge the gap between where we are now and where we want to get to, is work, taking action, doing what you believe in. I have no doubt that you all here believe in the presentation we were just shown. This is why you were clapping, and it's good. But how can we go from just hearing about these things, these things we see elsewhere, and make sure it reaches us as well?

That's where the difference lies; working hard. This was also mentioned, and repeated. Working together, whatever skill you have, bringing it to the table, and combining with whatever other positive skill the next person has, which is different from your skill, to complement each other. All this combined, leads to a better nation, a developed nation. It is not enough to have one good Minister, or to have a good Prime Minister, or to have an entire Parliament that only has one or two hardworking individuals. It is not enough. Everyone has to work out in their shift, play their part. And I'm not merely asking you to listen to this. I consider this your responsibility.

There is a point you reach, where begging and pleading doesn't work.......can you imagine pleading with someone to do something that is beneficial to him/her? Can you always tell someone to do this and that, telling him that, in order for you not to go hungry, do this, and he just shrugs and gets annoyed and asks you to repeat what you said, saying he is not understanding. Telling someone that, this is needed for your own security. Who doesn't need security? A family, that doesn't need for their children to receive an education, which one is this; a family that doesn't need for children to receive healthcare; which family is this?

A family that doesn't need for their children to eat well and have a good life; what family is this? This is why I say that it is your responsibility. Part of the responsibilities of leaders is to explain, plead, and follow up, in order to get things done. That is part of our jobs, and we have to accept that, we can't try to sidestep this aspect of the job. That is how it is. But this should also be the same for all people. For leaders, there are different levels and authority levels. But responsibility remains responsibility and you should try to take care of your responsibilities on your level. You should always keep your eye on the target, and ask yourself, I'm I playing my part, and combining with the next one who also has his own tasks, for the good of our country?

If I am ok, but my neighbour is not well and then he who tells himself he's fine, it is not the case. It reduces the prosperity and wellness of everyone. This is why we must all rise, as one. Each and every one of us even those at the very bottom, all must reach a certain level at the very least. That is what's important.

The good things that were said here today were also put into an African context, a continental context. That was good, and he said it in a better way than maybe most of us would have managed to. He gave many great examples, and repeating this is good, and this brings me to the importance of such events, to keep emphasizing and repeating and reminding people of these principles.

But let me first talk about something that have touched on in the past. Do you remember, one day right here, when I talked about 'Sibomana' (loosely translated: they are not God). Do you remember? I want to revisit this topic again, but in a different way, because I again encountered this and want to talk about it again.

But wanting to repeat this again, it's not to just talk about it, but to try and explain this to you thoroughly, such that all our actions are focused on dealing with this, let me put it this way. I'll relate to things people were talking about that took place in the just ended year, I was particularly pleased that the Professor talked about it, the issue of foreign aid that was stopped. On one hand, it is regrettable, and has negative consequences. Since when something that you did not want and didn't bring on yourself happens to you, you cannot be happy.

In fact, the other day, I was in Kenya, we were exiting from a meeting of heads of state of East African countries, a journalist came and put a microphone in front of me, and asked, "what do you think of the UK's decision to halt aid?" myself, I was not even aware that they had announced the stopping of aid, I had not been told, we had been in a meeting all day. He had first asked me the state of affairs in the region, and I pointed to the Ugandan President and said, "He is the chairman, ask him." He insisted, saying that, "I need your reaction to the stopping of aid from the British". I said what do you want me to say? I said, they stopped it, that's it. It was theirs to begin with, so do you want me to say I'm happy? I can't say I'm happy, since I didn't ask for this or wanted this.

But let me return to the main point I wanted to share. On one hand, it's bad, but it also has a silver lining. There is a hidden good in this, because this helps some of us to wake up. Helps us know what kind of world we live in, even if we are always told about it, we refuse to see it for what it is.........being spoilt. Whenever you want anything, it is given to you. Letting other people shoulder your burdens. This is what I always tell you. Why is it that we, as citizens of this country, Rwanda, our burdens will always be carried by the citizens of other countries, until when? People of other countries, until when will they carry us on their heads? The leaders of those countries, they do this and give you their citizen's money. But after that they return and pa themselves back what they gave you. But they don't just take what they had given and stop there; they also take away your dignity, self-worth, and leave you feeling worthless and like you are nothing. They take your dignity, and leave behind a shell........do you know what a shell is? Something that is empty inside, like a box that is just there and is empty, this is how they leave you, regarding your dignity.

What this all means, is that once that aid is gone, we should be doubling our effort. Like what that man Nyerere said. By the way, Nyerere, many people talk about legendary and inspirational leaders, Nyerere is never given his due credit, and he was a great man. He said, us Africans, if you consider our current position, where others can afford to walk and take their time, since there is a lot they have achieved and managed to do, we have to run. We can't walk slowly as if all is ok. We can't walk, we have to run.

This is what it means, then. If we previously could walk leisurely since we had foreign aid, it is now gone, what does this mean? We have to run, really high speed, twice or thrice the speed. Since those favours that were for free and spoiling you, have been stopped. Unless, we are the type of people who are depressed and hopeless. When no one comes to our aid, we slink to the corner, and wait to die. But yet again, people who are like that would be hard to understand. What kind of people would that be? What kind of Rwandans would we be, if we were like that? Rwandans who fall by the wayside and wait for someone to come to their rescue? What kind of people would we have become?

This means that there are two main points I want to put across. There are things that we must totally reject, and label it as taboo to even consider it. In the name of all Rwandans, all Africans, we rise and say no, we won't let this happen to us. This is where it all begins. This is where Singapore started from, they refused to die, they refused to become a people that depend on others. This is where they started from. There is something we have to reject. All the principles, all those you told us about, none of them can be possible, if there isn't that resolution to say, we refuse this, and there is one path through which we shall walk. The second thing, is actions. Just saying you reject something, isn't enough. This brings us to another African trait which we often disagree on. We easily take offense. That people have disrespected us. Ok, fair enough, since one shouldn't allow to be disrespected just like that. However, the best response, actually is to prove it, that you are not what they say you are. I wouldn't be so angry and waste all my energy on getting upset, just because someone said something. You know, someone said I'm corrupt, how they dare say I'm corrupt when they are the ones corrupt!! Prove that you are not, that's the first step in my view.

In fact, show the person making all these allegations about you that you are faultless. Where it all breaks down, is that people opt to instead argue and disagree. Talking about sovereignty, our sovereignty, and it becomes all about that. This is how this world works. Do you want people to stop talking about you? Then show them. No one lives alone in this world, we all need each other. No country can survive on its own. Even the most powerful, like the Americans we were seeing here today. They also need other people. They are the most powerful country in the world, but they still need the rest of us. So, all people complete each other. Therefore, us as Rwandans or Africans, cannot allow ourselves to get upset every time they talk about us.

In fact, when one is falsely accused, he shouldn't let this upset him. If someone says something that is not true about me, why should I get angry? If for example, someone says I am poor and broke, and that I will have to beg the next day, yet my pocket is full of money, will I get angry because they said I'm broke? No. I have my money I my pocket and that's what matters. The bad thing would be to try to prove a point to them and waste my money trying to prove that I am not broke.

The main thing is to have a vision, to have standards that we don't go below, to show that we are willing to do what it takes to become what we hope to be. Actions.

So, what I was taking about earlier, 'Sibomana.' We have had extensive disagreements with even some leaders that are present here today, regarding what we are going through as a country. There are also some other people that I talked to, two leaders from the developed countries. We talked at length about the current issues the country faces. I asked them pointedly; just what do you want from us? Rwanda, what crime do you accuse us of? There isn't any specific thing that you accuse us of not doing. If it's your money, you came here and investigated thoroughly, each and every Dollar that comes to Rwanda is used for that specific task it was meant for. No one diverts the funds. In fact, there is no better example of exemplary use of donor aid than Rwanda. What else do you want? Why do you ask us about Congo, and yet Congo has its handlers and those in charge of it? Actually, apart from having its handlers, there are you people, who have sucked it dry of its resources, and do what you want in it.

All these things that you accuse us of, which we haven't done in Congo, why don't you be the ones to intervene and meddle in Congo, since you are the ones who are determined to solve the world's problems? I went deep into the problems that have plagued the Congo, how the current problems have roots in its far past, how it started, grew and continues to be an issue even today. I showed them facts, evidence. I asked, where do you see Rwanda in all this? Actually, its you people who are all over the map!

I asked them, why did you put in place MONUSCO, the UN force, for which you pay 1.5 Billion Dollars per year. It has now been 10-plus years. That means almost 20 Billion Dollars spent. I asked them, but what kind of people are you, first of all? How does anyone keep spending money, without seeing any tangible result on the other side? And they don't stop to ask themselves, why isn't there any output?.....how can you spend money on anything, and you are not bothered about what you are having at the other end as the outcome? As the results? And I said, if you care then, what are the results? And if you claimed that you made a commitment to deal with that problem, did you succeed, did you fail, if so, how does Rwanda come into the equation? Because that is your business. Us as Rwandans, it is our business in another way, and we have actually tried to deal with that problem with the Congolese themselves, directly.

So, after engaging in all these debates, I showed them the failure of Congolese themselves to put their affairs in order, and their failure to help them as well, this should not be made Rwanda's problem. Apart from that, please explain to me how this ties in with the aid you were giving to Rwanda, which was helping the Rwandan people. You are punishing the people of Rwanda, what did they do? I mean, if you say, "President Kagame, President of Rwanda, must have passed under the table and meddled with affairs......" then come ask me directly, why make children of Rwanda suffer? Then you turn around and claim to be good people, who care about the livelihood of other people.

Basically, what you are saying is that, since there are problems in Congo, with their leadership, then why can't we spread those problems to Rwanda as well? Rwanda has made itself into a miracle of sorts, solving their own problems, no, we need them to need us.

So after explaining all this, it's like I had known before-hand what they intended. After burning a lot of calories, they say, you know what, what you are saying is true. So I ask, why I'm I being victimized if you understand? They said, the problem is that you Rwandans........I'm trying to explain this since it was said in a foreign language........you Rwandans just don't listen. We tell you something and you just don't listen. You are not as we want you to be. Really, they came out and told me this. After lots of arguments and debates, they just came out with it. It's like they said, you are Africans who talk back when talked to.

I used to hear about this sort of thing long ago, in the past, and never believed it. I used to hear that this was what plagued us all the way since colonialism. That Rwandans are disrespectful. Did you also hear these things? Yes, I used to hear this. Well, it is still very much alive today. I saw that the other day. That someone talks, and we have the audacity to talk back. The issue was no longer Congo, not aid issues, the various allegations and accusations lobbed at us, no, how can you talk back to us?

I told them, ok, now I understand. I used to wonder what the cause for all this is, now I know. I always suspected this was the case, but dint want to believe it. I don't see how this can still be an issue, even today. What is it based on? I told them look, its related to what we can live for, or have to live for, or what we can die for. I told them, in short, instead of being killed by deferring to you, I would rather be killed for refusing to bow to you. Look, after all, let me tell you. There is death even in bowing to them, more than defying them. All those who allowed to follow them, to bow to them and worship them, the death they died is clear for all to see.

At the same time, I decided to bear it out for them totally. I asked them, you madam, and you sir, who are you anyway? From whence do you come, whose decedents are you? What gives you the right to push us? Is it your small countries, which you built up by sucking Africa for all it was worth? Do you know mosquitoes, there are times they feed on people until they are so full of blood, they burst. You came, you sucked Africa, you fattened, at Africa's expense, then you turn around and start telling people like that? What God/god are you? You are just people, human. Just like me. Telling me to worship you? Why would I worship you? I only know one God! Everyone else on this globe, East, West, North, South, Centre, I can only call you my compatriot. We can do a deal, but this thing of standing over me, telling me what to do.......no, I know my God. We don't have other gods here around in this world. So nobody. We can have a conversation, we can argue, we can debate, you may be right, I may be wrong, if you prove I'm wrong, I'll take your argument, we can do anything, we can even fight over it, but you can never dictate to me what is good for me.

And as long as I'm hired to do this job, you cannot dictate it to my people. Now, those who will come after me, if you find some other wisdom of accepting what these people dictate to us, it's up to you, it's up to them. But as far as I know, these Rwandans here, we Rwandans, and I want to believe us Africans, know only one God, not their fellow human beings acting like God to them. No, fellow humans, human beings cannot act like God to us. But they do every day, they try every day, and the worst part of it, the biggest problem, is that some Africans actually accept it. Accept it without questioning. That's what makes Africa what it is today.

It is why we are where we are today. It is why we are as poor as we are. Maybe you don't see this. People giving us so-called aid, then using it to roll us in the mud, and yet, the Africans are grateful, are grateful for that, for being turned up-side-down and.......whoever comes around, whoever feels like it, comes and does this to them. You find leaders, like us, leaders are calling their colleagues in other countries Dad. Dad! They are calling their 'Dads' to come and save them. Most times from their own countrymen that they are supposed to be leading.

It's not even an external thing.....yes? A leader of their own people, in their own country, asking for external help against their own people. Just think about it. Think about the meaning of it. Yes......think about it, think about whether you leaders, who have come here to worship, to thank God, for being and being who you are, whether you should be worshiping somebody else. Think about it; think about whether that's how you should behave, whether that is acceptable to you.

You find, they managed to infiltrate us, to get into our heads, causing people to panic. They sow seeds of division among us, teaching people to hate each other, to hate themselves. There's hating each other, you see, creating conflict between two people, then there's teaching you to hate yourself, and you follow suit, you hate yourself, and feel worthless, lose your dignity, and feel you cannot accomplish anything. They teach you to depend on them, and to hate your country. To hate your leaders. But why don't you turn around and ask them, who are you? Where are you from? And what do you want? They say there is no freedom in Rwanda. Do they allow you to have any freedom? They are the first ones to impede Rwanda from being free. If you are standing above Rwandans, dictating to them how to live, not letting them choose for themselves what is best for them, how can you say Rwandans have no freedom?

They don't have freedom because that is what you are telling them. Since they don't do as you want them to, they don't have freedom. But, who are you anyway? Who are you to choose for Rwandans what they should want and what they should do? Does anyone do the same for you, in your land? Why do you tell people outside of your own lands, who should lead them and what they should do? Does anyone do this to you as well?

So, the lesson I learnt in all this, is that this phenomenon still exists today, I believe it now. Can you encounter something twice, thrice, four times, and continue to refuse to acknowledge it? Wouldn't you be abnormal? But in accepting this, its not accepting it as such but merely acknowledging its existence, such that I can prepare accordingly to combat it. When you know about a problem, and prepare accordingly to solve it, you succeed in solving it.

Even now, even though we are no longer receiving that stopped aid, we are still much better off than we have ever been in the history of this country. Either way, we are still better off than at any other point in the history of this country, Rwanda.

I decided to put this point across clearly at this National Prayer Breakfast since it mainly concerns the leaders of this country. It starts with the leaders. The leaders have to grasp and appreciate the gravity of this problem, otherwise Rwandans will have a problem. The leaders must come first.

So, my colleagues, refuse to accept mediocrity. He who accepts mediocrity, becomes mediocre. Becomes nothing. When you accept anything and everything, you become nothing. What Singapore achieved that we were told about, is not a dream or illusion.

We can also achieve this. We can go from where we are and reach where we want to be. It all depends on the resolve of the people. People who have a certain mindset, with discipline, who work together and use any and all means to get what they desire. Discipline in society. And having a vision that you live for. Do you live to just watch the days go by, sunrise and sunset, and wait out your time here? What do you live for? Is that how people should live? It shouldn't be that way. You should never accept that people act like Gods toward you. That's taboo. People live together, they fight for one another, complete each other, but never play God to each other. Each and everyone should seek to play their part in the process. The righteousness and sacrifice we were talking about earlier. That should be the way.

So, I thank you for inviting me, as long as you invite, I will always gladly come. I also consider it as part of responsibilities, to come and share with you all and tell you my thoughts. I may fail to change you, but can I fail to at least tell you? And the one who feels that what I have said has truth to it and is beneficial to them, well and good. Those who don't agree are free to have their own view on things. This is how it goes. Thank you very much.

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