California, 12 February 2013

President Kagame began his three day visit in the US  with a keynote speech at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council (LAWAC) in California.

Addressing leaders in private and public sector of Los Angeles, President Kagame spoke on Rwanda’s journey of recovery in the past twenty years:

“20 years ago Rwanda sank to the very bottom; observers considered Rwanda a failed state and predicted it would remain so. That was not an option for Rwandans; we had to work together tirelessly to progress and develop our country. For us this was about restoring life, hope and dignity for ourselves.”

President Kagame added that reconstruction is an ongoing journey with challenges that Rwanda is determined to overcome:

“The progress we have achieved is a testament that we can reach further goals. We have moved beyond mere survival, we are more determined than ever to pursue our efforts towards a prosperous and dignified future for all Rwandans.”

Stressing on Rwanda’s commitment to draw from its own context to provide solutions to its challenges, President Kagame shared the example of Gacaca Courts:

“Within ten years, Gacaca had tried 2 million cases for less than one billion Dollars. The UN funded International Criminal Tribunal (ICTR) tried 60 cases in 19 years at a cost of 2 billion Dollars.”

The keynote speech was followed by an interactive session where topics discussed included Rwanda’s vision for the future and peace and security in the region.

Speaking on priorities for Rwanda future, President Kagame pointed to prosperity, stability and peace and security:

“When we look around the world, in some places prosperity has been taken for granted. The question is why this shouldn’t be possible for others. We believe it is possible for Rwanda and Africa.”

President Kagame concluded his remarks by emphasizing on the importance of regional integration and continental cooperation:

I don’t think of Rwanda out of the African context. Rwanda is not and cannot be an island. I wish for the rest of Africa what I wish for my country.”

President Kagame began the day in the US with a tour of the Shoah Foundation where 50,000 testimonies of genocide survivors are preserved including testimonies of survivors of the Genocide Against the Tutsi. Prior to addressing the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, President Kagame held an interactive session with over forty high school students.

President Kagame will continue his tour of California in San Francisco where he will be addressing the Wisdom 2.0 conference on the socio-economic transformation of Rwanda. The conference will bring together over two thousand leaders in fields including technology, politics, media and the private sector to discuss the role of technology in transforming lives.

Notes to the editor:

· Los Angeles World Affairs Council (LAWAC) was founded in 1953. The goal of the World Affairs Council was to present speakers to help Americans better understand the outside world and America’s role on the global stage.

· Over the years, the LAWAC has hosted 250 heads of states and 8 US Presidents

· The Shoah Foundation conducts its work in 30 countries including Rwanda.

· Since 2007, Shoah Foundation has worked in Rwanda with Aegis Trust and the Kigali Genocide Memorial as part of the Rwanda Archive and Education program. The program includes teacher training, classroom pilot programs, archive building and peace education.