I would like to express my gratitude to all of you, for inviting me to be with you tonight and I greet you all. For most of you, we have not seen each other for some time, while for others, we meet very often. I hope that the two days you have spent here have been fruitful.
First, I would like to thank all those who brought us the event in the past, but especially the work you have done these days, and the decisions you have made in addition to what you have been doing for a long time, to build our country.
I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations on the 25th Anniversary. We are glad that during those 25 years, you have done a lot to help rebuild our country, rebuild Rwanda, and Rwandans. Thank you so much for that.
I add my voice to that cake you just shared with us, thank you.
I would like to thank all the women who came up with the idea, which is an act of unity of our country, represented by this Unity Club. Thank you very much.
As we talk and give time to them, and we want to give them even more time than we always do — ladies, women, girls, in our history, in the life of our country, we cannot stop to express our gratitude to them, and hope that this reflects what is ahead.
We expect a lot from them in the future, and I would like to reiterate that you hold an important place in our lives, and this helps us find the strength to move ahead and build on.
I am not ignoring men, no. When you talk about women, you are talking about men and vice-versa. We complement each other. But in our life, there are times when everyone of us plays an important role, but what is key is to keep complementing each other. Everyone does the same in their personal lives, but it is always better when we complement each other.
I am also one of the lucky ones to have women and girls in my life: from my mother to my wife, to my daughter, and when you get lucky your daughter gives birth to a granddaughter. I know that I share this with some of you or most of you.
In my professional life, there are those who were my bosses once, and I also have those who are my bosses at all times, I mean in my social life outside work. Your lifetime bosses being those you live your life with. I have already talked about those that I live with, starting with those who birthed me, the one I have married, our children, and our grandchildren. I still have that chance, which helps me even deal with my other responsibilities. I wish you all to have this chance. I think you have it, but there are times when one does not even know the chance they have.
What I am saying is that those who are as lucky as I am, and know that they are lucky, should keep it up. Those who do not know how lucky they are, may you know it. Those who do not want to know that they are lucky, we shall help you. That is life, human life, but it also reflects our life as human beings, as a country.
Our country, its history, where we come from, and where we are going, we know all of that, and those who gave us testimonies told us their lives, what they went through, their various experiences, and the chance they have to still be alive. That is what makes a human life. It happens to one person, to another one, and to all of us. Living in a country, leading a country, being led in a given country, how countries relate to each other and to people, all of that has one thing in common. That is why it starts with one person, as we are gathered in this room, and everyone has their time, their role to play.
As we live, there is what we live for until we are no more. The first thing we live for is our own being, while the second is others. You live for yourself and for others. This is the same for all human beings. When you say that people might think that it is just for two people, but it is for everyone and even for the country.
Unity Club is a symbol of where we come from, where we are going, and the core of who we are. Unity Club, starting with unity itself, is a symbol, it is the core of who we are, without leaving anyone outside of that. Unity Club is that reminder, that permanent ideal, that identity that we carry in our hands. Unity Club is that identity that characterizes us. It is that flag that reminds us. We thank you for reminding us of who we are, starting with women, and bringing on board all of us, including men.
In our life as a country, there is a war that we have been fighting, and that we are still fighting. It has been twenty years, in fact, a whole generation, thirty years, let me say it that way. In the last thirty years, we are still fighting one war, we are fighting a war, and in it, we have fought hundreds, if not thousands of battles, and we have not won the war. We have just won the battles. Winning the war means that, at some point, you have settled down because you have reached what you had determined as the end goal.
What is the goal to us, as Rwanda? As I understand it, the end goal is a Rwanda that says we want development, we want prosperity. Prosperity is achieved through transformation, through these battles you fight year-in, and year-out. Transformation is enabled by that unity that we want, that we struggle for every day.
In fact, this is the goal: unity, prosperity, and development, stability, a secure country, a developed nation, a united nation.
We have not achieved that yet, but we are on the right path. We are on a path where we win battles as they come. We are on our way to reaching unity in abundance. I cannot say that unity is ever in abundance, but when it comes to measurements, when you have 40%, 50%, 60%, it is not the same as when you are at 90% and above. When you have reached that level, you can say that you have reached your goal.
We cannot achieve development, we cannot have security in abundance if we do not strengthen our unity, if we do not equip the human life that I talked about earlier. To know that if every one of us does not lookout for the other, if we do not wish for others what we would wish for ourselves, if we do not understand that when we have reached a better and satisfying level, while others are still lagging, we have not reached anywhere.
As I conclude on this point, I want to say that it is easier said than done. Everybody understands it when it comes to sharing ideas. It is clear that everybody understands it. Everybody explains it in a way that shows that they understand it. The problem that keeps coming up, which delays everything, is taking a step from mere understanding and putting it into practice.
How can we solve this? How can we ensure that we take that next step, to implementation? How do we ensure ownership from those who understand the issue at hand, those in positions of responsibilities, those who feel lucky to still be alive when the wars they survived took the lives of many? How does their understanding of the issue guide them into doing what brings us development, unity, and peace?
In the last few days, I had meetings with Heads of State from different countries — countries that are going through challenges like what we have been through. In our talks, they tell me how they are doing, how they are rebuilding, the progress they have made in pushing back their enemy, and how close they are to putting an end to their issues with that enemy. I tell them that I am not a prophet, but that I can give them my advice as someone who has gone through a lot.
You used to talk about “the one who has been through the night – uwariraye” but I also want to add “the one who has travelled through the forest – uwarigenze”. Both have their own challenges. Do you know the kind of dangers you can meet in a forest when you are alone? Be it day or night, when you are in a forest alone you can meet several dangerous animals and malevolent people. Good people have nothing to do in forests if they have no bad intentions. Those who talk about walking through the night are also referring to the dangers you can meet walking in that darkness.
So, I told those people, regarding the nights I have been through and the forests I have crossed, and the dangers I met in both: when you are fighting an enemy, you may win battles, but you have not necessarily won the war. I told them: you win the war when you and your enemy find peace. So, in everything we do as Rwanda, we have to win the battles, but we also have to win the war by finding stability and peace for our country, which I think we are achieving step by step.
This takes me back to what I said earlier — I said that it is easier said than done, putting things into practice becomes hard for everyone. I want to say that as we are gathered here, as leaders at different levels of our country, those who live here or abroad: As long as we do not ask ourselves how we do what we do for ourselves, for our families to earn a living, with our friends, how do we work together? Which path are we taking? Where have we reached?
We also have to measure our progress. There has to be a monitoring system to be able to say: we are here, we are progressing at this pace, these are our capabilities, what causes our weaknesses and how can we address them, all that to get us to our end goal. Our goal is the same with its three components that I mentioned earlier: unity, prosperity, stability and a secure country. Everything we do has to lead to that.
We may differ in our ways of doing things. All of us here have different ideas of the paths we may want to take to achieve our end goal, but we do not oppose each other in wanting to achieve stability, development, and unity because that is the country we want. Unity means a country where people feel united. People end up mixing things, which causes other problems. We may differ on the paths to take towards achieving our goal, but that should not cause us problems. We look for ways of finding a common understanding on which path to use towards reaching our goal.
Those who will rise and say that they do not want stability, unity, and prosperity, calling themselves enemies, indeed, are the enemies of Rwandans and of our country. Those who will say: “Me I do not want development, who wants it anyway?”. They will have proclaimed themselves as the enemies of our progress. Those who will ask: “Why do you want peace? What is peace?”. Those are the ones we should join hands to fight.
Sometimes, people mix things. The fact that we want to take different paths to reach our goal should not mean that some people will end up standing in our way to achieving peace, unity, and prosperity.
As we keep learning through life and our experiences, I will never stop asking you, because I know that it helps, especially from the way individuals or people conduct themselves: Do you know something called humility? Humility, especially for leaders, is a big thing. It is important. When leaders, human beings, lack humility, there is a problem. Even the end goal that I was talking about cannot be achieved easily.
When you lack humility, humility does not mean that you do not know how people feel. Humility does not take anything from you — nothing. Instead, it adds to your strength. Humility adds to your strength, it does not take away your dignity. But when humility is lacking, what does it mean? It means that the ones who lack humility only think about themselves. They do not think about others, that is what it means. When you lack humility, you are just selfish. There are those who gain from this, but those gains are short-lived. They do not last, and actually bring about other damages. When you have gained in such a way, there are many others who have lost. That is what it means — where you gain while others lose. In the end, it comes back to you. It is just a matter of time.
If you enrich yourself, get wealthy and build a house with a fence, but you are surrounded by a sea of poor neighbors who always want to take a glimpse at what is in your compound, people who have nothing, and they see you getting out of your home happy, smiling with your friends — especially when you are a leader — those poor people will end up thinking that what they are deprived of is in your possession, that you are the source of their misery. Even if that would not be true. If your neighbors are hungry but they see you happy, because when you are full it reflects on the outside, and they see you throwing away leftovers, they will judge you. Their judgement might not affect you now, but in the end, it catches up with you.
This is a lesson that, as leaders, we need to always keep in mind. Most of them, and rightly so, will end up saying that since you are a leader, the way you are is a result of their hard-earned taxes and that most of their taxes end up in your pocket. Even if it is not true. You do not wish that, but you have given them a reason to start thinking that way because of the way they see you, because of what they see and sometimes even because of the way you treat them when they come seek services at your office.
At all levels, citizens come looking for services and meet public servants, and the first thing they receive are insults. But citizens, because of their pain, swallow their pride and end up apologizing, and calling you “Excellencies”, when you are the ones who are in the wrong. You cannot escape from that. In the end, it catches up with you. It gets back to you as an individual, but when it is done by many people, it affects the country as a whole.
The unity that we were talking about, Unity Club, unity, what meaning does it have? The unity that our country wants, we want unity for what? What is in unity? Unity carries strength. Unity is strength — it is strength for the country that is confronted with many challenges. But when you behave like I have mentioned above, you are wasting the strength that unity was supposed to bring about, and we end up not reaching our aspirations.
As for the politics of I, for me, I think so, for me it has to be like that, ok that is fine, maybe your thinking is right, but do not make things personal, do not let it be about yourself, no. You are who you are because of others. You are who you are because others are who they are too.
In what Bamporiki was saying, he talked about leadership. There is no leader without people. It does not exist. You become a good leader because those you lead see themselves in your leadership, see themselves in the fact that you work with them to solve the challenges they face. You become a bad leader because that is how those you lead see it. There is something you are not giving them. There is something you are not doing for them. You do not work with them, as you are supposed to. That is the judgment I was talking about. They will judge you.
As for making things about yourself — it moves from being about you, and you start saying that you are someone’s son or daughter: who is that someone? Who is not from a family? Instead, if you want to pride yourself in being from a renowned family, give them a good and commendable name so that people will be saying that you come from someone who is understanding, collaborative, human, humble, and reasonable. Then whoever meets you will be able to tell, from the way you behave, that you were well raised since you share the same reasonable behaviors, you conduct yourself well. This applies to your social life, all the way to the politics of our country, to the way we conduct business, to everything we do. That is how it is.
Let me tell you, we are now used to it, and everybody has a testimony to share. Everywhere we go they talk about Rwanda. There are times when I joke with those with whom we work together. Sometimes, I just want to push them to do more and do better. Rwanda is not commended out of pity.
A lot has been done and there are people who have worked hard for it. There is a lot that has been achieved, that is why Rwanda’s name is widely known like, never before. Rwanda’s name has been this popular twice in its history: Rwanda became popular because of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, when our name became widely known for a bad reason, a very bad reason. Today, everywhere you go they talk about Rwanda. Sometimes it surprises me when people narrate how they have travelled to places like those islands in the Pacific Ocean, 10,000 kilometers from here, and when they were transiting through airports, officials were amazed to see on their passports that they come from Rwanda and told them that they want to come here to visit the country and see for themselves, because everywhere they have been, people were giving Rwanda as an example. This shows that a lot has been achieved, but it is not enough.
When I am pushing our leaders to do more, putting in a booster, putting in more energy, I tell them how when I travel, and people start asking me if I am the President of Rwanda, I want to find a place to hide because I know what we go through every day. I respond to those I meet that, yes, I am the President of Rwanda, and they start showering us with praises, which makes me want to hide, wondering if they really know what we go through. Do these people know what our public servants in ministries do? How these public servants give poor services to citizens after howling insults at them, and beating them? Do they know how we are still fighting with poor service delivery? What will happen, once they get to know that?
Would you enjoy being praised for doing slightly better than those who are still struggling? I keep saying this to make you understand that we should stay humble. When you become complacent and start singing your own praises, you end up sliding back, and even the little you had achieved disappears. I want us to keep this in mind in everything we do, and it has to be shown in the way we behave. Let us try to do better because we have a lot of challenges that require us to do more, better, and in a sustainable way.
A lot will come from us as we age, as we grow old, and leave the place for those behind us — our little brothers, and sisters, and those behind them, our children. We want them to have a solid foundation, as they start this journey. If we do not lay a solid foundation, and ask them to lay theirs, that will not be sustainable, that cannot last, it is not our culture. We are building a culture, we are building a country, we are building unity, we are building development, we are building stability, all in a sustainable way. For what we have built to be sustained, we have to leave the place so that others can step in, assured that we are on the right path.
Let us not put Rwanda back where it was. And ignoring those little things I was talking about can take us back. We need to get rid of them. Someone talked about love — let us be patriotic, let us love each other, let us love our neighbors, let us love our colleagues. Love does not mean that you want to be like the other person, no, be yourself, be who you are and who you want to be and strive to move forward to become even better. If we understand that and strive for it, we have all the power to solve those issues I talked about.
You cannot buy what Bamporiki was talking about: clarity of thought. You cannot buy that anywhere. Have you seen that in a shop somewhere? Even when you get books, you read and gain knowledge, knowledge does not give you the clarity of thought. Clarity of thought comes from talks like the ones we are having here. Clarity of thought does not come from books. People have read so many books. Is there something we would not know if all of us here combined our knowledge? Has that solved our issues? Culture, dignity, striving for what we want, that is what would be of importance to us.
I have talked for a long time, and I thank you for listening. Sharing with you what I think is useful to us, and is something I always do, and you will also be sharing your ideas, as some of you did yesterday when I was not around. Mine was just to add my contribution.
I hope that we will leave this place with everyone being who they are and knowing that being who you are is good when you think about others and who they are too, coming together, and continuing our journey of rebuilding this nation.
Thank you so much!