Kigali, 6 October 2012
Your Excellency Richard Kabonero, Uganda’s High Commissioner to Rwanda;
Our brothers and sisters from Uganda living in Rwanda;
Thank you for inviting me to be part of this celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of Uganda’s independence. This event reminds me of many similar anniversaries we had during our stay in Uganda. I should add that those celebrations were not lukewarm or half-hearted because Uganda had become our second home, and we knew that we were amongst our brothers and sisters.
As you know, many African countries, including Rwanda, obtained their independence at similar periods and will have celebrated their independence this year. So, 50 years on, what lessons have we learnt and what does the future hold for you?
There is always a tendency to look back and focus on what went wrong during the past half-century. It is even true to say that in some areas, Africa has not made any significant progress during that period. Although we cannot ignore our past, we should learn from past mistakes and ensure that that not-so-glorious period informs our future.
But by and large, there is no denying that Africa is on the move. This is true of Uganda; it is even true of Rwanda and many African countries. Some have even suggested that this century will be Africa’s.
But we should not be under any illusion that the bright future we want for our people will be come easy. The current global economic landscape is changing and the erstwhile rich continues to face social and economic difficulties.
We should not, therefore, be surprised if we are continuously under the spotlight for the wrong reasons. The socio-economic progress we make may be viewed as bad news by some, especially if it comes at their detriment.
What I think we must do in the next 50 years is assert our independence. This can only come about if we empower our people in all ways, make them more productive and give them the voice to stand against those who do not wish us well.
The integration route we have embarked on is a step in that direction. But integration should not be on paper; it should be a people’s integration so that they feel and embrace a common cause for a common destiny.
This is what I wish for you, our Ugandan brothers and sisters as you celebrate this important milestone, and this is what I wish for all Africans.
Thank you for your kind attention, and have a lovely evening