Mr President, once again, allow me to welcome you and your delegation to Rwanda.

We are very pleased to host you.

Rwanda and Madagascar see eye-to-eye in our long-term objective to bring prosperity to our people and build a more developed Africa. We are also united in our membership of international organizations, such as COMESA and Francophonie.

In Africa, the pandemic, climate change, and the impact of geopolitical tensions have reversed decades of progress. Having challenges is not the issue. The problem is leaving those challenges unaddressed.

And for Africa, really, it is I should say, sad. Because what are these problems that are insurmountable that have left Africa lagging behind the rest of the world forever? What are these problems?

One might easily say, is it a curse? Have we been cursed to be like that? I don’t think so. But sometimes we Africans behave like we believe it is so because we are made to believe that either we are second-rate human beings, or made to not appreciate each other, not even to appreciate what we have that can be transformed to actually address those challenges we so much talk about every day.

And we have so many of us, or among us, very well educated, very well-travelled, only to imitate others — not imitating them in doing the very things that developed them. But imitating the very things that just don’t matter about them.

When you look at the conflicts, the tensions our continent is going through, you can’t but think of what’s wrong with us and until when. Of course, you have the parts of the world that also think they have made it, and made it a point for them to thrive off the plight of those of us who do not appreciate ourselves. And that is our continent.

And then the next day they turn up to tell you how they have a lot of lessons for you about values, about human rights, about all kinds of things — all of that done after they have violated everything about them in your neighbourhood, on your continent. But would I blame them? No.

I blame those of us who accept to be treated like that — those of us who walk the streets with our chests forward, our heads up, with very nice suits and ties, with good notes — but leaving behind us the trail of destruction of our own people, of our own countries, and later on being praised from foreign capitals that we are the best thing the world has had and we accept it.

Here in Rwanda we have a saying. I’ll try to translate it: uwanga kubwirwa ntiyanga kubona. You can refuse to be told the truth, but you will not escape facing or seeing or experiencing the consequences of the truth about the bad things you are being warned about. That is a saying here in Rwanda that goes back decades and centuries.

So, in Rwanda, we have tried to do our best to address our challenges the best way we can. And we will not stop doing so no matter what anyone thinks about us. So, those values, we can talk about that, we can debate. There are no values better than ours. And we are convinced about that, and you cannot change it. Nobody can change it. You can even destroy us, but you cannot destroy our values.

So, our guest, Mr President, we in Rwanda wish to share with you and the people of Madagascar those beliefs — those things that we think matter to us and which I think are not very different from the things that you, Mr President and the people of Madagascar, think matter to you and for the transformation of your country and the development thereof. That’s where we come from. We are some country somewhere, located some place in the center of this huge continent. There is something to share.

But we also always wish to learn a number of things from others as we respect one another, and respect ourselves, and work together, and see if we can move this continent closer to that place where we all want to be.

In that context, we are very pleased that you are visiting our country and we still have good memories of the visit we made to your country in 2019. I’m sure we have seen in each other what we can do together, what we can share, that will make a big difference for our two countries. And by that we can take ownership of our future — not only the two countries, but the future of our continent and not having to wait for the imposition of external solutions on us.

It is true that Africa is blessed with natural resources. But as I have said, this fact, on its own, cannot change the status quo.

We must sit down together and carve out better strategies to benefit from our collective wealth. That is the purpose of visiting each other and I believe, of this visit.

Your Excellency, I want to assure you that you have a reliable friend and partner in Rwanda. In that spirit, allow me to offer a toast:

To the good health of His Excellency President Andry Rajoelina, and to the continued bonds of friendship between the people of Madagascar and Rwanda.

Merci beaucoup.