Speech by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, at the closing ceremony of 8th National Dialogue (Umushyikirano) in Kigali, 21 December 2010.

  • Distinguished leaders of our country;
  • Friends of Rwanda and partners;
  • Representatives of foreign nations in our country;
  • Rwandans who are following this dialogue from within and outside the country;
  • Ladies and gentlemen:

Let me begin by thanking the organizers and all participants for this useful dialogue, the good discussions we have had, as well as the recommendations coming out of the our National Dialogue.. The purpose of this dialogue has been to provide us with the opportunity to draw new strength and thoughts, and review our progress as we remind ourselves of our individual roles in efforts to build our country, based on our values and our culture.

Building our nation means striving for development of the country and the people. We cannot achieve this task without the conscience of ownership. We have to own our development. Rwanda belongs to all of us, and all of us have a role to play in our country’s development; those inside and outside the country, the strong, the weak, the ignorant as well as the more knowledgeable. Those who want to debate should do so, and come to an understanding and move ahead keeping in mind that progress is ours.

A firm foundation has already been laid and what we need to do now is to continue building on it, bearing in mind that this has conform to the changing times and aspirations of Rwandans.

The building of our nation must be based on institutions rather than individuals in order to make it sustainable. We do this with the knowledge that there will be new generations taking over- you and I may change our roles – meaning you may be in this parliament today, but you may not be there tomorrow, as I am in this position today but may not be here tomorrow.

But Rwanda and Rwandans and their need for development will always be there.  We have to ensure that our children grow up to continue the good work that we have done. This is our time to establish a good foundation. You all heard that young lady who lives in Germany, the one who cannot speak Kinyarwanda; she is also Rwandan and has a contribution to make. She may be among those who will over – we have to build a foundation that will enable this continuity.

There are issues I spoke about yesterday that really should not take up our time, because our time should be used for that which has value and importance to our country’s progress, not about people who trade in falsehoods to earn a living. However, when you have white linen, you have to keep cleaning off even little bits of dirt, lest the cloth becomes permanently stained. I will continue to wipe off the dirt thrown at us, in order to maintain Rwanda’s character. Those who want this are in the vast majority and we will protect our country on the strength of these forward-looking Rwandans.

Dear leaders, we have to leave here resolved to strengthen our efforts in service delivery. It is you who will help that Rwandan who has nothing to eat to feed himself. If not, will not achieve the dignity we want and deserve. Therefore, let us understand and implement what we have discussed here.

Rwanda has passed through a very terrible history; one may forgive or ignore some things, but we definitely must forget because we cannot afford to go through the same history. It happened once and this is bad enough – if it happened twice it would be unspeakable.

Our history was not an accident; we caused it ourselves, there were external factors but those are still there and will continue to be there even tomorrow. However, we cannot change what happened and neither can we change those who wish us ill; we can only change how we will be in the future through changing our mindsets and our reaction to obstacles and challenges.

I am saying this so that we do not wallow in self pity, thinking that someone else will solve our problems. We all have different thoughts and ideas, but the development of our country will be driven collectively by us.

I wish you all the best as we celebrate this holiday season and think about our responsibilities to Rwanda, Rwandans and our future.