East Africa: Kagame Speaks About Liberation, Rwanda-Burundi Relations

President Paul Kagame.

President Paul Kagame on Friday held a live Instagram session with local social media influencers, which focused on Rwanda's 26-year journey after liberation.

Kagame told the social media influencers that the history of Rwanda's liberation struggle of 1990-1994 is one, which every Rwandan associates with, saying many individuals sacrificed their lives to liberate the country after many years of suffering.

"During our time many of us were refugees, not only those who were out of the country but even those who were in the country because they were deprived of their rights in many cases," he noted.

Kagame was among the people who abandoned their studies and life to join the struggle to fight against the regime that presided over three decades of misrule which culminated in the Genocide against the Tutsi.

"These people (Rwandans) should probably have decided to do something else, but they chose to sacrifice and be part of the liberation struggle," he said in a televised session.

The Head of State was asked about his personal experience throughout the 26-year journey after the liberation, and all the way to leading the country into a stable nation.

"I didn't embark on the liberation journey with being a president in mind. I never really targeted to become a president," he said.

"But certain actions may have led me to where I am. It's not as if it's a job interview where you apply," he added.

Rwanda marked the 26th Liberation anniversary last week but like the rest of the world, there were no national celebrations as a preventive measure to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic, which according to many experts could derail progress that countries have made.

The President said Rwanda has done all it can to fight the pandemic, indicating that more people in the country have recovered from the virus compared to the active cases.

He, however, emphasized that defeating the pandemic requires working together with neighbours.

"No country has all the answers to it but we have to listen to science and do everything to curb the spread of this virus," he told 20 influencers who were meeting at the Campaign Against Genocide Museum at Parliament.

Rwanda-Burundi relations

Kagame also touched on the strained relations between Rwanda and Burundi, saying the government was already to work with the new leadership in Burundi.

"There is history that led to the bad relations between our two sister countries but we are ready to work with President Évariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi to address those issues," he stated.

The Head of State reiterated his call for reinforcing accountability, recalling his earlier address at the Rwanda Patriotic Front's (RPF) National Executive Committee Meeting.

"Throughout the Liberation Struggle, we have always appreciated good governance," he said, adding that accountability is an RPF belief.

"We have a responsibility to make sure that our leaders hold principles of accountability seriously," he added.

Kagame, considered one of the most active Heads of State on social media, already has a huge following on Instagram with more than 600,000 followers.

He also has some 1.9 million followers on Twitter.

His conversation with influencers comes a few days after Rwandans officially marked the 26th Liberation Day anniversary, which was held in Gikoba, Tabagwe sector in Nyagatare district where Kagame inaugurated several projects.

The President held conversation with influencers from different industries, including radio and television personalities, comedians, and photographers, among others.

The role of social media and internet influencers in the internet age cannot be ignored, as many have been seen to drive different agendas at home and beyond.

Jackie Lumbasi, a Kenyan media personality currently working in Kigali, says gone are the days when mainstream media was the only way to communicate.

"This interaction is an indication of social media influencing being embraced. It also helps that some of us serve and communicate to the masses through both media," she told this publication.

She sees herself and others as middlemen.

"People share their thoughts with us and wish we could task policymakers and leaders to respond to them," she argued.

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