Kigali, 10 January 2014
President Kagame today received students from the Wharton Business School who are undertaking a course titled – “Conflict, Leadership and Change: Lessons from Rwanda” and have been visiting the country since January 6. The Wharton Business School took interest in this course because of Rwanda’s ability to reconstruct from tragedy, and emerge as one of the core success stories on the continent. The MBA students expressed particular interest in conversation with President Kagame as the leader who has led Rwanda to where it is today.
During the interactive conversation with the students, President Kagame spoke on various issues affecting Rwanda and the continent of Africa:
“I don’t want to get lost in trying to change the past. I want to approach it differently, instead of going backwards; I say what I am going to do differently in 20 years. All we go through should be a lesson. When you are pushed against the wall, the only way to move is to move from that wall.”
President Kagame said that the genocide took place in Rwanda because people lacked the feeling of self-worth -Agaciro.
“Agaciro; valuing oneself was missing, that’s why genocide happened. But Agaciro has worked because there were ingredients for it to work. The meaning of Agaciro Development Fund is the trust between the people and leadership”
On leadership, President Kagame said that the moment you impact others positively, it adds up to your satisfaction and makes life worthy of living. He said that no leader could change a situation unless those around them contribute to it because “the General leading the war is as good as the soldier he is leading.”
“To build trust you must make people believe in themselves first. If ever you find a leader in any organisation or country for whom it is all praise from everybody, then there is something wrong. Quite a big chunk of criticism is distraction aimed at diverting you on the basis of a zero sum game. In as much as you want to pursue a win-win situation, you need to make sure that at least you don’t lose.”
Prof. Kathrine J. Klein, an instructor who escorted the students said the students wanted to learn and draw leadership lessons in their own lives from Rwanda and President Kagame because many of them would go to leadership positions in the future.
“I think for many people, the country’s progress is difficult to understand; the peaceful coexistence, the sense of hope, the transformation, and they are inspired and curious to learn from here. As a Professor, I think what we will take back is that it is important to understand the context of a situation lest you make mistakes. Rwanda is a very impressive and complicated place, so there are no simple answers, one has to come and see for themselves in order to understand things better.”