18 August 2017

Rwanda: President Kagame's Inaugural Address

Photo: The Rwandan Focus
President Paul Kagame.

Today is a day of celebration and a day to thank each of you. Today is a day of renewal and gratitude. I would therefore like to begin by thanking those who have joined us here.

The presence of so many brothers and sisters from around Africa honours our nation deeply and gives us strength. We thank you. Africa has been with Rwanda when we needed you most.

Nothing gives our people greater pride than contributing together with you to the greatness of our continent. Standing alongside us are friends of Rwanda who have always kept our country in their hearts and worked hard to advance it.

I want to acknowledge the leaders and members of the 8 political parties who joined with RPF to nominate me as their candidate. For twenty-three years, we have collaborated with deep mutual respect to repair the social fabric of our devastated nation.

I also congratulate the two other candidates who brought their message directly to citizens. Together, we created a positive environment where no vote was cast against anyone but rather all were cast for Rwanda.

If we always succeed in rallying so strongly around ideas and leadership that work best for all of us it would be a good thing. This approach is not merely a stepping-stone, away from our moment of tragedy. It is truly a privilege and an honour to serve you.

Together we have lived a life, which at every turn has been unexpected, unprecedented and often shocking. We have made progress, thanks to the distinctiveness of our choices and the resilience of our people.

Today, Rwanda defines no one as an enemy, whether domestic or foreign. Every Rwandan has a country and with every other country, we seek partnership and cooperation. Rwanda's institutions are founded on the common good as it should have been all along. The gains in public services, individual well-being, national unity are now undeniably real.

Every attempt that was made to denigrate the process and glorify old politics of division only made Rwandan voters more defiant. We have had to fight to protect our right, to do what is best for us. We will, without any doubt, continue to do so.

Every African country has to contend with efforts to force us to live on someone else's terms. They demand we replace systems that are working well for us with dogmas in which their own people are rapidly losing faith.

Africa has no civilizational problems, only assets. Sans aucun doute. Over centuries of adversity, our civilisation sustained us. Today, it endows us with ambition, compassion and creativity. Without exception, there is infinitely more that unites us, as Africans, than divides us.

Attacks on our character only make us stronger provided we respond with clarity and conviction. Our experience is that we will be vilified, no matter what. So, we might as well do what we know is right for our people.

Those who are worried about our welfare should feel at ease. We are the best students of our shortcomings. It is no longer business as usual in Africa. There is really no justification for all the effort that goes into cutting Africa off from itself.

There is no single model for nation-building. At the root of any success are good choices built on a mindset: Do It Yourself.

We in Rwanda will continue to be firm believers in real partnership and cooperation with friends around the world.

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