Netherlands, 3 October 2015
Good evening everybody, I would like to start by thanking everyone for taking the time to be with us here in Netherlands today. You came all the way from near and far, and sacrificed your time and energy to be here. I also recognise those who accompanied us all the way from Rwanda.
This is another opportunity for us to join efforts to develop our country. Rwandans from all walks of life and friends of Rwanda are central to our efforts to build our country. I want to take this opportunity to thank friends of Rwanda in particular for being with us today.
What is the philosophy behind Rwanda Day? The Philosophy behind this event is for us to put together our efforts and energy. This is an opportunity for us to join our hands in building our country and change the bad history and memories of our past; this requires for everybody’s contribution, for everyone to play a role.
Let me use the Netherlands, the country where we are today, as an example. The Netherlands is not a big country; but it is highly developed, its technology is advanced and its people’s living standards and their level of development is among the world’s best. This means that development does not depend on the country’s size but on its leadership style; its way of doing things, the will, attitude and behaviour of its people.
Another living example is our country Rwanda; if you look at where we started from and where we are in twenty one years and where we are heading, you will see that all is possible if we all put our efforts together. You will see that it’s possible to change people’s lives and the fate of the country in general. We can debate this but facts speak for themselves. Although some people tend to ignore and cover the truth, it always comes through. This truth we talk about here is the progress we have achieved in the last twenty one years.
It is important also to evaluate this progress based on the fact that we came from a tragic past: we lost a million of people. We lost a million of people; it’s not a million things but a million of people. The reason why they had to die in itself is a problem that stagnated people’s development, before it became a reason to kill them. These are the two concerns.
The third reason is the fact that the world we live in is a complicated one. The world we live in is a selfish one. The world doesn’t care about you; it only gets interested in you when it needs something from you.
For Rwanda to achieve progress despite these issues is a tough job. But it’s feasible when you put your mind to it, with everyone working together; Rwandans living in the country and those living abroad. Here I am talking about Rwandans who have an identity, who value their country and culture, and who won’t let anyone tell them how to live their lives.
Living the way others want you to live is not living fully. And why would you want to live like that when you could be living life according to your own standards? Unless you don’t want to live, and I don’t associate with those who do not want to live. We still have many people in Rwanda or across Africa, who just wait for others to find a way of life for them. There are people who do not have a will to live as they wish and who find a way of life through others. So when you look at them closely, you see that about them.
That is the reason why one is obliged to ask: where has Africa and Rwanda been for the last 50, 60 years? Did they really want to live? They probably wanted to; we still want to, but mostly they chose to live by other people’s standards. We know the course of those nations that chose to define their own path. The Netherlands where we are today is one of them, as are other countries, some of which are on the Asian continent. Nations that made progress in last 50 years leaving Africa behind made progress because they chose to define their own path. We are still where we were 50 years ago. Other countries have progressed a thousand times more than we have. Why is that? What could be the answer to that question? For my own perspective, Africa is where it is because we chose to be defined by others and we waited for development to be delivered to us. The result you see today is because ultimately we became what they wanted us to be.
For Rwanda to develop, for our country to be renewed and distance ourselves from our past, we have to reach a point where we choose our own destiny, I am talking to all of you here because you all have to chose to live on your own terms and not on someone else’s.
It’s easy to sit and wait for someone else to come and save you; you sit without thinking or you think poorly without working, sipping on a drink of banana wine you didn’t produce, or sitting and waiting for someone to come and give you handouts. That’s easy to do if you choose to live that way, but in the end, your life will be much more complicated than what you would expect. It gets even more complicated because you are not living or you are not living the way you were supposed to.
Fellow Rwandans, after 21 years I believe that God created all of us with the same abilities but some of us chose to misuse our gifts. Here in the Netherlands there is a big number of Rwandan students, workers; when you think about the difference between you and the residents of this country what do you realise? In reality there is no difference in terms of innate capacity or intellect, we were all created equal. So, why leave your native country and come to live here? The root of the problem is known, so why can’t we sit together and solve it?
There are also some people who wander around the globe asking others about the country’s progress! But how about you who is asking? Where have you been? What happened to you? Even if you deny your country Rwanda, it won’t work. Rwanda lives in you. Denying your identity shows how others have developed while we were stagnant. You can do good things from here but remember your native country. That is why I come here to meet with you; I want to remind you about your home and also invite you to visit.
It started slowly by slowly when people fled the country after committing crimes. Then they would say, people in this place are …. Yes they have a good mindset that brought them where they are today but you, you want to abuse it!
Then look at someone who killed people in Rwanda or elsewhere in Africa, or embezzled public funds or did other crimes and fled to this country or elsewhere in Europe saying that he is a victim of his belief in democracy, freedom. A real thief or a murderer! Then they are welcomed, later taken to television and radio stations where they start explaining how they are real democrats who fled to save their lives. And in that case, the crimes committed get covered up! But all will be revealed soon!
It will all get uncovered due to two main reasons:
How could you dare to say that Rwanda, following its terrible history, is still the same and yet it has achieved development? People have moved from grass thatched houses, as the singer who performed earlier said, people are getting health insurance, Rwandan children have access to education- school enrolment rate in Rwanda is the highest in Africa. I am not the author of this, nor am I in charge of evaluation. I can tell you ten facts showing Rwanda’s advanced step ahead of other countries in Africa and elsewhere.
Rwanda’s speed in reducing child mortality was recorded the best in the world. It has been the first time in Rwanda’s history where farmers have produced enough from agriculture and livestock for their household consumption and still have extra for the markets.
The country’s security, the number of women in businesses, in decision making positions, those are firsts in Rwanda’s history. Here, I am just quoting what is written, published by others. I am not the one who did research on this. I am quoting other people’s research. Maybe if it were my own research, you could say “what else could he have said?” I am quoting other people’s work.
After all of this, if you tell me that all these achievements were registered while the country is on the wrong path then maybe you’re the one who has problems. Maybe you’re the one to blame, not me nor any Rwandan directly in charge.
Earlier, when I said that it all will come to light soon, I was basing on two reasons:
One, truth speaks for itself. You try to ignore it, you push it away, but it keeps following you, it won’t stop. That’s reason number one.
Second reason is that – you know very well- these days there are more and more refugees coming to these countries… You have been following updates on how many people are coming here from different corners of the world. Soon you will be fighting each other! You will be fighting each other in foreign countries!
Yes, eventually they will go back through their records then ask you, “Could you tell us again why you came here?” This is because they now want migrants with real justifications. Those who fled famine, those who truly fled violence back home. Just because the numbers have increased, they will go back to those who came first and ask them how they came. Going back through their records, they will say: “Look! We had been told that you might have committed crimes, which is different from what you told us when you arrived.” For sure, they might be seeking ways to manage this issue. There are too many refugees. It was just a piece of advice.
I have never known of any single country which survived on a lie. Or just words. People used to advocate for “debates”. Who was ever nourished by “debates”? They say there is no debate in Rwanda. What do you debate first all?
Debate? OK! If you link it up with actions, debate is a good thing but debating for the sake of debating, and making it a profession, as your one and only activity, does not make sense to me.
Debating is not an end in itself; debates allow one to gather different ideas which will serve as a foundation for actions. That’s what parliaments are there for. Parliaments in some countries, as you may have probably witnessed, go as far as punching each other when words fail. But the good thing is that at the end of the day they take action. But Africa only debates. Some have decided to imitate others as I was saying earlier; they live their lives the way they are told they should live rather than the way they really want. That’s the issue.
When you travel abroad for trade or some other business, why not just take what benefits you and ignore the rest. When we reach out looking for networks, partnerships we need to be choosy. One has to choose and discard the rest. You choose based on what you want, you choose what you need otherwise taking everything would not be beneficial.
Rwandans who are gathered here, those who live abroad we consider you as Rwandans, it is the way we perceive you and we wish nothing but the best for you. We also wish you to keep up the Rwandan spirit as you always have. We will keep coming back to you.
Allow me to conclude on these two things, with a focus on the youth.
First, Rwandan youth, whether living abroad or back home we expect a lot from you. We expect you to carry on this uplifting process so that tomorrow the country may look up to you and find answers for questions such as; how far have we gone? What is the way forward?
For the youth to fulfil the task will depend on how you behave, what you do, be it in the academic sphere or corporate. There is a behaviour that matches the progress and development a country is aiming at. There is no need for me to repeat myself, I’m sure you understand all this. It is impossible to develop without a vision, without discipline to sustain that vision. A person can have discipline but a society does too, it has a code of conduct; the people, the mentality, all contribute to shaping a clear vision of what is to be reached. That is my wish for Rwanda, this is what we all fight for: for Rwandans to have a say.
Just because we have a small country doesn’t mean that we have to depend on others. We can stand our ground, be independent in thought and shape our own destiny.
We are in the process of building our country. You are the drivers for this change and I thank you for what you have already done. The achievements I mentioned earlier would not have been possible if not for those of you who had the will to make it happen. I ask more from you so that hand in hand we may achieve our objectives.
I also take this opportunity to ask you to take a message to the people who seem to be determined to take the country back to the dark days. I would kindly like to remind them that if they ever get tired of blowing whistles and beating drums they can come back home and we shall welcome them. We invite them. For us, Rwanda has never been too small to the point where some would be denied to return as it was the case sometime back.
Although we keep increasing in numbers, we always have space for them in the country. We also welcome non-nationals, our doors are wide open.
About those I mentioned earlier who are against us, if one day they wish to come back I hope they won’t bring any outsiders with them, some of those they hire to help them. Those should go to their own countries and find something to do or stay here.
I would like to thank you and in case there is a topic I did not address, I now open the floor for questions. This is my moment to discuss with you. There is much I did not talk about but I’m ready to hear you and share some ideas.