Kigali, 30 June 2012

On the eve of Rwanda’s 50th Independence Day, President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame hosted scholars from all over the world at a banquet that followed two days of the conference entitled “Governance and Democracy: An African Perspective.” Guest of honor Wole Soyinka opened the banquet by sharing his belief in an African Renaissance. Describing Renaissance as “the birth of a new social personality unafraid of new ways of thinking,” he reminded the audience of the need for Africa to base its future on its needs rather than externally imposed definitions.

Wole Soyinka warned against the dangers of combining power and exclusivity describing the mixing of the two as the exclusion of citizens from participating in politics of the country in which they belong. He described the source of failure in Africa as the result of “the collapse of moral essence under the fall of political expediency.”

He ended his address by pointing at Rwanda as the “phoenix that rose from the ashes agains all odds.” It is the “syntax and very language of renaissance”, he added. Concluding his remarks, Wole Soyinka reminded the audience that it is in the hands of leaders and all Africans to ensure the realization of a continent that is at peace with its people and prioritizes the wellbeing and full self realization of its people.

Thanking the entire guest for joining Rwanda as the country takes stock of its journey, President Kagame reminded those present that “freedom and dignity are never handed to you.”

“We have to work hard to attain and secure our freedom and dignity,” President Kagame added. Raising a toast to those present, President Kagame ended his toast by raising his glass to “solidarity and freedom.”