London, 18 May 2013
Good afternoon everyone. The Ambassador didn’t want to say it the way it is: he first said that you are Imfura (decent and dignified), then said Intore but let me say it: you are truly Imfura.
Please take your seats. Thank you.
Fellow Rwandans, friends of Rwanda,
We have many friends of Rwanda here with us today; almost the same number as Rwandans here present. We thank you all and you too are Imfura! I am very pleased to be here with you today, at another Rwanda Day.
Rwanda Day is now known as a day of gathering, sharing and discussing new ideas of how we can make our country a better place and continue our development journey. I thank everyone present for making the time for this event where we will share ideas on how to build a Rwanda we deserve. I thank those who came from very far and all of you for your patience.
As it was said earlier, Rwanda Day is an opportunity for Rwandans living abroad to connect with Rwanda in a special way. We have gathered in many different places and every time Rwandans have participated in big numbers. It has become evident that when given an opportunity, Rwandans can achieve a lot. Rwanda Day is not a day only, it is the spirit that brings us together, looking for the common good of the country and working together to achieve this.
Everything has a purpose…. There is a reason I called you Imfura (noble), I don’t want to dwell on for long and you know why.
Let me use recent events as an example, as we normally meet to discuss matters pertaining to our development and you know we get to tangible results.
But you get to really know people when there is a problem.
It’s in difficult times that you know how resilient a person is, to what extent he is a noble person. Even in bad conditions, in times of trial, a decent person remains upright. You know in 2012, our country went through a difficult time due to external problems. Our country was made to carry problems that are not ours; people put their problems on our shoulders. The problems that they wanted us to carry too heavy to them, to those whose problems they are and to those who are supposed to be helping them find solutions.
We, the people of Rwanda, our country has its own problems that we can’t attribute to others but for which we need to find solutions.
However, we will not carry other people’s problems. We will never accept this. Every person, every country has its life to live. We can only determine the kind of life we want to live.
You can’t live your life and at the end of the day say you will live life for others as well. If you are supposed to live, say sixty or seventy years, you cannot add seventy more years that you are going to live for me. It’s not possible. What I want to say is that if you have a way of living your life then who are you to determine how I should live mine?
This is not a problem for Rwanda alone; we share these types of difficulties with our fellow Africans. But as Rwandans we have gone through a different history, which has shaped us in such a way that we see things differently. We believe everyone should be given the opportunity to live their own life. Everyone has to be self reliant and should decide and choose what suits them. We don’t share this with all Africans as a problem, but it’s something we can share with them as a solution.
In a nutshell, last year the whole world turned against us. I know you people follow closely what’s going on through the media; be it journalists, some Heads of States, heads of international organizations plotted against Rwanda.
Usually, what you perceive to be true is usually what is going on. I used to see Rwanda as a small country but it turned out that I was wrong as everyone wants a share of this small country.
The reason why Rwanda is not as small as some of us believed, is because of its people, you people, Rwandans who make it happen…It’s not about its size.
Some people encounter problems and decide to solve them and not blame them on others like some do. When you encounter a problem and you decide to take ownership, you obviously solve it.
The problems we had in Rwanda, we owned them as Rwandans. Our history left us some problems and we are the ones who are supposed to find solutions. Solutions that come with dignity we deserve, you always hear people saying Agaciro (dignity), no one else can give you dignity, if you respect yourself and respect others they will also respect you in return.
If you choose to do wrong, you are washing away your dignity. We receive support from donors yes, but no one can give you Agaciro (dignity), you have to seek for it yourself. This is where the idea of “Agaciro Fund” came from. Rwandans in the country and outside Rwanda, including most of you here, and friends of Rwanda came together during this hard time and decided to find a solution. We said, we are faced with financial challenges because some donors stopped their aid contributions so let’s set up Agaciro Fund. Rwandans were the first to act.
Have you seen any place where you tell people, let’s set up a fund? Recently as I was attending some meeting in the USA, an American there told the audience; ‘let me tell you something interesting about Rwanda. The Rwandan government asked Rwandans to contribute money so that it could be used to solve some problems ahead.’
Then he said, ‘nowhere in this world can you tell people to give you money and then think of how to spend it later, and the person you’re asking immediately pulls money out of their own pocket.’
He said people are giving because they trust. It means Rwandans trust their leaders
This faith Rwandans have allows them to face their challenges.
Did you know that within two months people had raised over $37 million?
Right away! Those who brought the little they had, those who could afford more, they all put the money together. At this point we have around $44 million. Rwandans asked no questions about their money because they have faith!
A peasant from one village gave his harvest and people asked him: “How will you live since this is all you owned?” He answered, ‘By the dignity I’ve given myself.’ And this is true. He gave but his life has not become worse than it was, on the contrary he is better off.
That is Rwanda’s spirit. This is what I mean by ubupfura (decency and dignity)…never betraying yourself or others. When you have that there is no reason why you cannot prosper as this is the necessary foundation.
We will continue to develop because we are on the right track. Between 2006 and 2011, we lifted one million people out of poverty. One million Rwandans! Let me tell you, this is not just news, it is reality and the people who were lifted out of poverty can tell you personally where they are coming from, where they are, and show you they are no longer poor because of that dignity that we, Rwandans, give ourselves.
Before, they would talk about youth, jobs, and ways of getting money to do business in order to live a full life. This is possible starting with that dignity. Besides that dignity, I want to correct a small misunderstanding although I think Grace has already done so. Young people, do your best, study hard. While you study, think about how to create your own jobs rather than waiting for someone to create a position for you. This is how you should all be thinking.
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look for a job. No, this is not what I’m saying. While looking for a job, also think of ways to create jobs in your own right, which will eventually be great.
Before job creation can happen though, you need to start with cultivating ideas – ideas followed by capacity, knowledge and other things will follow. Regarding how to get funds that will help people who have those ideas to create jobs; at the end of the day we are always looking for funds, that is what I was saying about Agaciro Development Fund – it’s money.
However, money is not an issue. You must start with an idea that you build on to use to get money, and then it has to be a sustainable system of seeking funding to support those who have great ideas and projects so they can achieve many things.
In addition, when job creators increase in number and achieve a lot, it helps the country to reach where it wants to go. So, to the youth, remember that education is discipline that gives birth to ideas. Discipline allows people to go out and seek solutions for themselves without waiting for the government or God to give them what they need.
The begging we are used to….nobody owes you anything in this world. It terrifies me that most of us are convinced that we are owed something. Nobody owes you anything, so stop begging. Sometimes we get overwhelmed with problems that at some point you really don’t know what to do.
Remember what I said about last year when they stopped or delayed aid to Rwanda. Rwandans and all of us, the President included, would say we are angry because they stopped and delayed aid but let’s face it, where does that goodness come from?
Will countries always take money from the taxes paid by their citizens and give it to Rwanda and other African countries, and when that money is not made available we complain that we did not receive our aid?
What did you do to deserve it? Why does a citizen from another country have to support Rwandans? Why? When will we change that mentality and realise that nobody owes you that support? Then you need to do what it takes to support yourself. This is not a crime.
I talked about strange things from our side. Let me now talk about strange things from the other side. When I tell the people supporting us to proceed in a way that would facilitate my growth they wonder what I am talking about.
So what do you think they are hiding? Someone tells you he is grateful for your support but can now relieve you of the burden of carrying them, he says, ‘I no longer need to be a weight on your shoulders’. Instead of being glad, they say: ‘No, no, it’s ok, you can keep being a weight for me; no problem.’
What does “keep on being a weight for me” really mean? What is the hidden reason behind? A person who does not want… it’s like certain life events…. There is what is called weaning. When a mother gives birth to a child, she breastfeeds the baby, but there comes a moment when the baby is all grown up and then the parent has to stop breastfeeding him or her.
If a mother still wants to breastfeed her child even though the baby has grown up, there must be a problem.
There is a problem on both sides actually. There is a problem on the side of the parent who thinks she should keep breastfeeding that child and there is also a problem on the side of the child who still wants to be carried and breastfed though he or she is all grown up.
People cannot live that way, Rwanda cannot be that way and Rwandans cannot live that way. Africans cannot live like that. We are as smart as the next person, we have arms like everybody else and we have more resources than the rest but because of what we lack, everything I mentioned earlier such as bad governance, our resources are enriching others and it is those same people who come back and support us. Sometimes they force that support on you.
Or the other way around, they take care of you so they can beat you up every so often.
I think that you’ve heard of anger management, where you use a punching bag to release anger. There are people who are serving as punching bags, they are punched every time some people are angry. We have now become like those punching bags.
If someone just had a bad day arguing with somebody else or if she/he is angry for reasons that we probably don’t even understand he comes and…
So what is the end of this dear Africans, Rwandans who are here, eh?
Where I was this morning, I was at Oxford I was there to give a speech. While going I found there were Africans there… first of all there is a problem. Those fellows when you look at them, first of all what brought them, what brought them to the street is to demonstrate against me or Rwanda.
First of all, they are there with eggs they wanted to throw at me, but they need them to …. [To feed themselves]
You know, those fellows are starving, if you were to ask them, how did you come here or where do you work? It is difficult for them to explain to you anything tangible.
Second, they are asking me about Congo’s problems. Now let me tell you, even if I might know them and am able to answer them, why do they ask me those questions here. Why don’t they ask me those questions from the Congo? Those fellows should be going to resolve their problems in their countries.
They don’t resolve their problems by throwing around eggs they need to eat. That shows a whole chain of ideological bankruptcy from them and up to some other place. But Africa will never resolve their problems by this kind of behavior and mentality, they can never solve [them].
But some people told them a lie that that way of behavior is democracy, is freedom is… freedom of being nothing.
Freedom of ideological bankruptcy, emptiness… Those who tell you those lies, that behaving like that is a good way of life; they live a better life than that one.
So fellow Rwandans and friends of Rwanda, we Rwandans, if I may speak for many of them, we are determined. We know our problems. We want to own those problems even through hardships we will resolve them.
We will try and keep trying and work hard, for not doing so the alternative is many times worse for you and for the kind of life we want to build.
So Rwandans, I think you are all aware of the Rwandan proverb of Ak’imuhana kaza imvura ihise (the help from outside comes when the rain has stopped). So let’s not wait for the help from outside.
I thank all of you for what has already been achieved, what has been built so far. Where we want to go is still far but it is also clear that we have put considerable effort, a lot has been done considering where we are coming from. And that effort will lead us where we want to go.
I am also here, to thank you, to encourage you to keep moving fast as we develop. Living with ourselves and with friends at peace, let’s work harder, and strive for our dignity, and attain prosperity like everybody. Others have gone ahead of us, they have reached far. There is no reason to stay behind; there is no reason to stay tied to problems dating back 50 to 60 years from now.
Today the world is running fast in technology, development, innovation, creativity, the rest – finance and other means – they can always be found. They will always be available. If there is the correct attitude, if there is a correct ideology, if there is hard work and discipline, if there is understanding and owning up to problems; there is no way we can fail.
Well, but, some people choose to fail. I just want to say that Rwandans should not choose to fail.
As I wrap up, we will continue our discussion through questions and ideas you will share. But, I would like to thank you again, and thank very much the friends of Rwanda who are here and the countries that continue to partner with Rwanda.
And, particularly, thank you to all of you Rwandans for making this possible and refusing to associate with divisionism and anything that could harm our nation, working hand in hand with us.
I used to tell people that those who live in areas widely affected by hurricanes, tornadoes, heavy rains and storms; those natural disasters pass by and destroy everything on their path. When you live in such areas, you tend to storm proof everything you build and become resilient by nature. And when the storm comes, you take cover, and the storm passes. And in the aftermath, you rebuild and life goes on.
In the past, we had these storms and other calamities, but Rwandans did not accept to remain victims and the storm passed. In fact, every year that passes and every problem we go through should leave us a lesson, right?
Thank you and God bless you.