Kinigi, 5 September 2015

I would like to thank you all for being part of this naming ceremony for baby gorillas.

I would also like to congratulate the organizers of this event, namely RDB and other partner institutions, and especially the private sector.

Allow me to start by stating our support of the current Tourism Month, as well as Rwanda’s support of the proposed 9 September “World Great Apes Day”.

Residents of Musanze, I am pleased to be here today as we officiate the baby gorilla naming ceremony, and to also to meet and speak with you all. This ceremony is an opportunity for our country to promote our natural resources and tourism activities.

These resources belong to Rwandans. This is why I commend the steps made to ensure that the resulting revenues are shared with the population that lives close to the Virunga Park. You should be the first beneficiaries of these resources, which is why the government directs 5% of the benefits made from tourism activities to local communities. This is the way it should be.

As primary beneficiaries of these resources, you know how precious and important they are. I hope this serves as a reminder to keep promoting conservation activities so that we can gain even more and achieve more development.

We want development. This is the message that I always bring to you. Rwandans are not meant to be poor. I do not need to explain what it means to be poor because you know it too well. And not just the meaning of the word. You know poverty because you are experiencing it and know that nothing good comes from it. We must get out of it, by all means.  We need to use all of our will and strength to fight poverty. If someone else needs it, they should feel free to come get it.

We’ll start by being in efficient using the resources we have, by supporting tourism in different Virunga Parks and the other parks, by investing in attracting tourists in order to generate the revenues Rwanda needs.

I would like to tell you, here in Musanze, and all Rwandans, that as a country we have laid the foundation to leave poverty behind. The first building block is the right mindset, then security. The third is the will and the fourth is hard work. And you, the people of Musanze, have the reputation of being hard workers.

Hard work helps us get rid of poverty.  Once we achieve prosperity, the rest is secondary. Once poverty is behind us, all other sources of conflict like differences in opinion, in the way we look or the way we do things and so forth, become much easier to solve. It will be easier as people can take advantage of the tools used to fight poverty, to solve other problems.

Otherwise, the evil of poverty is that one tends to blame others for issues caused by that very poverty. And often the person you blame, is just as poor as you. This is because sharing scarce resources is always a source of conflict. When people are hungry, and you have several people fighting for a little food on a small plate, it always ends up in fights. I am sure you understand what I mean.

This is why we want Rwandans to be self-sufficient, to attain food security. We will achieve this through hard work and commitment. We need to work very hard to lift Rwanda out of poverty. As for the rest, you have heard it many times before, you don’t need any more lectures.

There is a Kinyarwanda saying that goes something like this: “Only the sufferers know how their bellies ache”. No one knows pain better than the person who experiences it.. A rich person cannot lecture you about how poverty stings and what it means to be poor. We know we don’t want to live through it ever again. What we need is to use our own hands to get out of poverty. As for the outside support, we welcome it, but we need to be self-reliant first and foremost. If we can do this this, we can easily achieve anything else we aspire to, and enjoy what life has to offer.

Let us see this day through that perspective, as an opportunity to showcase our hospitality to visitors to Rwanda, especially when they are here for such a good cause and with good intentions.

I would like to thank our neighboring countries with whom we collaborate in conservation efforts, to protect our gorillas, a source of wealth from which we gain much benefit. Our neighbors in the DRC, Uganda, as well as others on the African continent, with whom we share much and who are here to celebrate with us – we thank you. We are also happy to have people from all over the world celebrating with us today.

It is up to us make effective use of these opportunities, get ourselves out of poverty, reach prosperity and all the other goals we aspire to.

I would like to thank the communities that live in this area, who contribute greatly in terms of conservation and protection of our natural resources, and who get 5% share of the revenues generated from tourism in this area.

This is a model that should be replicated in the rest of the country, to ensure local communities get their fair share. There are those who think Rwanda’s soil doesn’t hold any minerals, but we have a lot of it actually. Wherever these minerals are exploited, the whole country will benefit in general, but the local communities should have even more. They will get the same 5% revenue share as the residents from this area.

I would like to promise you that mineral resources will not be a “curse” for us as they like to say. That’s not how I see it, the worst curse is poverty. Prosperity cannot be a curse for us, instead it will contribute to our development.

Residents of Musanze, I am happy to be here with you day. As or all the infrastructure mentioned earlier such as schools, health care centers, access to clean water, communication and the rest, know that we work day and night to figure out ways to bring these close to you as quickly as possible.

I would like to conclude by thanking you once again. It looks like it’s about to rain, you should go and join your families, and have a restful weekend.