Canada, 28 September 2013
I am very happy to be here with you today and I have come to repay my debt. I have been invited to Canada many times and I had promised to come; it has been a long time coming but I am here now. And despite the fact that I hadn’t come yet, you attended the other places I was invited and continued to invite me. I was disappointed every time I wasn’t able to come, but I am very happy that it is finally happening today.
I would like to thank you very much for the warm welcome that you have extended to us, thank you so much for being present today and for always being present when it comes to supporting your country- our country- Rwanda. Rwandans living in Canada really do their part. We saw it recently in the elections held. You participated all the way from here and it went well.
But this also applies to all the other activities that we invite you to participate in, like what we did a few months back with contributions to Agaciro Development Fund, the Canadian Diaspora really made a significant contribution.
Let me again thank you so much for your many contributions to the development of our country, and through you I want to thank all the Rwandans for the role they are playing in building their country. This applies to the youth of Rwanda, its women and of course, I don’t think I need to mention it; the men are included in that as well. It is obvious the men of Rwanda play a big role in building the foundations on which Rwanda stands.
So, to all of the Canadians present here, to all of the Rwandans from many corners of the world, let me take this opportunity to ask or discuss with you about our common goal as a nation, and ask ourselves “who do we really want to be”? What kind of Rwandan do we want to be? There is no doubt about us being Rwandan but what kind of Rwandan do you want to be? Most of you here are both Rwandans and Canadians; what can I say about being Canadian? Whatever nationality you are, you have to strive to be better, to be a good citizen. That’s also what those who gave you that nationality want. They want you to be good citizens and the country will be good to you.
But let me not dwell on that because I am not in charge of making people Canadians, my primary duty is with Rwanda. That’s why you elected me, to lead the people of Rwanda. That is my primary responsibility and it guides me in the work I do. So going back to the question that concerns all of us, what kind of Rwandans do we want to be? What does it take to be this type of Rwandan? How can you get there? No one can make you the Rwandan you want to be. It’s a personal choice. We want Rwandans of value, Rwandans that have “Agaciro”. Do you understand what that concept means?
We want a country that gives all Rwandans security, justice, well being so that you are happy to be who you are and proud to be Rwandan. The same way citizens of other countries are proud of their countries. It’s not about imitating them, that’s the way it’s meant to be. Striving to be a good citizen should be our guiding policy, a policy that’s true, policies based on lies is what killed our country, it killed Africa as well as other countries. Rwandans, we cannot die twice, we died once and that was enough. It would be a tragedy if we accepted to die for a second time. What we endured the first time is more than enough. The only way to avoid that is to have a strong leadership, and I don’t mean the President alone, I am talking about leadership at all levels, right down to the personal level because every person has a responsibility, what they owe to their country. Therefore, we need to have citizens and a leadership that understands that we cannot die twice. When you understand that concept, then you know that you need to give Rwandans freedom and security. But that’s not enough. We do not want to have a population that enjoys all the freedom and security in the world but who do not have food to put on their table , can’t afford to get treated for the simplest diseases, diseases that other countries have eradicated or take their children to school. That would be completely useless.
Once again, I want to use this opportunity to call up on you Rwandans- even if some of you now have dual citizenship, Canadians or Americans- so that you can provide your support in building our country, strengthen it so that it doesn’t die twice. Young men and women present here, youth of Rwanda, whatever you’re doing here, whether you are studying or working, keep building yourselves so that you grow up to be good people and your country will grow strong as well.
The leadership of Rwanda will do what it can to support you, but you also have work hard, play your part to support your country, because at the end of the day; Rwanda is you. And wherever you live, or wherever you come from, you didn’t come all the way to Canada to learn bad values. Would you travel thousands of miles to live a bad life? You wouldn’t need to travel so far you can learn those types of values where you come from. If you have come all this way, I would recommend you study, learn skills that will develop you, your country, otherwise you travelling 4000 or 5000 kilometres would have been a waste; it would be a terrible loss. Education is a great asset; it is acquiring skills that add up to those you already have. Canada or America have advanced in terms of sciences and technology in general, whether it is applied to health, to farming or to education… Go and learn about all those things, build your skills set so that you can positively contribute to your family because your family is a Rwandan family and we expect a lot from you.
Don’t waste your time, time lost is lost. When you want to do things that you should have done in the past, you lose the present time and that’s time that you will never get back. The reason I am saying this is because I want to remind you that us as Rwandans, as Rwanda, we have our own particularity due to our past history, due to where we are coming from and to where we are going. It’s about understanding that no one can do it for us because those people who we expect to help us also have other priorities. That is why we need to change the way we think, understand that we have to become self-reliant.
When you look at where our country is coming from, there is no reason any of us seated here, anyone who loves their country would want to waste time; why anyone would not understand the need to gather the necessary skills, picking the positive aspects and rejecting the negative. Leave the negative to others; you don’t have anything to gain from it. You don’t have to collect what is not beneficial.
As for Rwanda, I have talked about security, leadership at all levels, I’ve talked about what needs to be done and how it can be done so that once we have accomplished that part, we don’t lag behind in parts that are equally vital. Otherwise our lives wouldn’t be complete, and we don’t want that. And we have everything we need to make that happen.
That’s part of what I came to tell you today. If we didn’t despair or were held back by our past that you all know, by what happened to us almost 20 years ago, no one should despair now because it is now clear that we have moved on from our tragic past. We are now at a place where we are building our country and becoming like all other nations. It’s a progressive journey and I would like to thank you all for that. It makes it easier for some of us that you elected to represent you; your commitment makes our work easier. When you lead people who help you lead them; it helps you achieve your goals much faster which is a great source of pride. We wish that it would go on like that so that we can achieve even more of what we haven’t achieved so far.
As for the rest, what Rwandans have, their different ideas as well as ideas from others; that‘s a completely normal process and that’s the way it should be. With a country like ours that has a small population, (even though we are 11 million and can’t really say we are small even though there are other countries that have a 100 million or even a billion), in this process of nation building, there are things we can debate but most importantly what is debated is not about security, leadership or policies, it’s not about how to work better and protect our people from hunger, what’s being debated about is how we get there. Because I have never heard anyone say that they don’t want security. Even those who disrupt our security never say it they want to live in insecurity. I have never heard any Rwandan say that they want to suffer from hunger; no Rwandan would say they don’t want justice.
On the other hand, what has been called politics, usually how it happens, even in other places, people debate how things are supposed to be done, how certain goals can be achieved. Some people believe that we can get there in different ways, and I agree that people are entitled to have different opinions. That is why we even have elections, and Rwandans are given an opportunity to vote for their leaders, either through independent candidates or political parties. Voting means you get to choose a particular way of achieving a different set of objectives.
Otherwise, politics that doesn’t discuss ideas, debate different ways to do things, politics that focuses on gossip, on insulting people, doesn’t have any value at all. And I think, as Rwanda, considering where we come from and where we are going, our population is capable of understanding that those who say those things won’t really contribute anything to their lives.
You cannot achieve anything when all you do is gossip instead of discussing ideas. You cannot get anywhere, you are simply being ignorant. And it would a tragedy if we let ignorant people lead. But we are always ready and willing to provide a place to debate, to discuss about ideas that advance all of us.
I would like to remind all Rwandans and friends of Rwanda present here that the future of Rwanda depends on you. This especially applies to the youth that I see here in big numbers; you need to work in a way that gives us hope that the Rwanda of the future will be led by good people, good citizens who have learned and acquired the necessary skills. Please meet our expectations.
But then again, if people decide that they don’t really need that, say that they don’t need to live well, that they don’t want to acquire the best education… then at least they should get out of the way and let others do the work. Why would you make bad choices and encourage others to do the same? If that’s what you have chosen to do then you should stand on the side and let others move ahead. Rwandans as well as anyone else have the right to fight you and put you to the side.
Otherwise, whatever you have been hearing about what Rwanda has been going through the whole of last year, 2012, and what we are still going through today. This to me shows that Rwanda is on the right path, we get hit by spears everyday but we are not shaken.
By the way, I hope most of you hear understand Kinyarwanda, because I might just be talking and no one understands what I am saying. I was hoping that the friends of Rwanda who don’t understand Kinyarwanda would be helped by the rest of you who speak either French or English. But I might be wrong and those who were supposed to translate don’t understand the language themselves, but I will get back to this later.
What I was talking about earlier is that in the past few years, Rwanda has gone through a lot of problems; the neighbours ‘problems that have been made ours, and we are made to carry that burden. But we have gone through this, and I would like to thank all Rwandans, you helped us get through this problems and I think it is getting clearer to the world that Rwanda is not the problem that the problem is elsewhere. Rwandans spend more time building ourselves and our country and ensuring that Rwandans can have the means of building a decent life for themselves. Let me conclude by encouraging you to keep playing your part in building your country, wherever you are. Keep focusing on the good policies that build your country. Let us continue to discuss how to get there.
Those who have the means to invest, wherever you will do so, please remember to put Rwanda on the list. Or else find other people who are willing to invest and let them know that there is a country called Rwanda which would be happy to welcome your investments and make it prosper. They will get all that they need for their business to prosper and benefit them as well as all Rwandans. I don’t know if you have been following but Rwanda has been ranked the second economy globally to advance in closing the gap to the frontier by the “Doing Business Report”.
In terms of economy, they use what they call an index to measure how competitive an economy is compared to other economies so that you can be able to say I would rather invest in this place instead of this other one…using this index, Rwanda has been ranked third in Africa, after South Africa and Mauritius. Also, the World Economic Forum ranked Rwanda 20th worldwide and 1st in Africa in terms of being welcoming to visitors. And here I am talking about you, but maybe you didn’t know that you were first. But that’s okay, now that you know about it, I am sure that you will do even better. In terms of fighting against corruption, we are among the best worldwide, and we are good at many other things, I cannot exhaust the list here and now. Rwanda, us Rwandans, how can we let something like that slip through our fingers? It wouldn’t be right, so let’s work harder and get even further. using good governance, decentralisation and other policies such as this those other policies that allow the population to choose what they want to do and helping them achieving it…we are one of the best worldwide in that as well.
I know sometimes when you read the prominent newspapers written here in Canada, in America or in Europe write about Rwanda, you sometimes wonder what country they are talking about. You know sometimes there can be a good report, with real and verified facts, and if you don’t put Rwanda in the title everybody would look at it and think that the results are excellent. But if you are then to add Rwanda in the title, and you know well that those are Rwanda’s achievement, some people will have goose bumps. You understand the meaning of goose bumps in Kinyarwanda? Ha! I suspect some of you might not understand that word. So as I was saying, as soon as certain people see good results coming from Rwanda, they immediately refute it and say it isn’t true because they think Rwanda doesn’t deserve it or cannot achieve it but this is due to the nature of our relationships and people’s interests. Sometimes people look at Africa, or at Rwanda, and have these misconceptions that nothing good comes from Africa or that nothing of value can be done by Africans. Even when it’s good, there has to be something hidden behind it. It can’t just be good. Or else, for it to be good, it means that the African or the Rwandans were helped by those others that are used to being the only source of all good things.
This is how the world we live in functions. Even to be able to the good things you do, you have to owe it to some other people. Or they have to have helped you in some way. Or they have to have told you to do it. So really, that is the origin of most of the problems you see in Rwanda. Because as Rwandans, we decided to say no, we do it ourselves. And it is from our own free will, we do not do it to get please other people. We do it for us. We do net fight corruption to get awards, even though awards are nice.We do it because it is right because corruption leads to loss of money that would have been used to provide basic services to our population. With corruption, half of what you were supposed to provide ends up disappearing somewhere along the road before it gets where it should go.
I am reminding you all about all of this so that all of you young people, you who are our future leaders as well as other old people like me who are leading now to remember that we have a difficult task at hand but we have to do it nonetheless. What we must do is not easy but it must be done and we have to work on meeting our goals the most efficient way possible. As I said before, I am very happy to here. I can talk until tomorrow so let me stop here. I never used to be much of a talker before, but I have learned from you.
Thank you so much.