Kigali, 2 July 2014

President Kagame has said that the liberation to free people from bad leadership is over, and now focus is turned on changing people’s mindsets so that they can change their lives and country for better. While addressing the Pan African Youth Conference themed “Beyond Liberations Movements: Shaping Our Future’ taking place in Kigali ahead of celebrations to mark 20 years of liberation, President Kagame asked young Africans to shun mediocrity and having low expectations because this would hinder them from achieving their dreams.

“It is time to shake off the low expectations that have been attached to Africans and that we, to some extent have accepted. Are you, African youth as bothered and impatient as you need to be to urgently change things? Do you stand up to injustice and patronising attitude as confidently as you should? There is only one way forward, be inferior to no one and do not accept mediocrity. It is obvious to me that you are as intelligent, creative and resourceful as your peers around the world.”

Speaking about how Rwandan youth liberated Rwanda and stopped the genocide 20 years ago, President Kagame said this happened because they did not simply sit back and wait:

“You have to ask yourself if you don’t fight, what’s the alternative? Faced with certain situations, you can choose to fight, flee or give up. We fought. We did not flee. We did not have the luxury to have the emotion of fear.”

President Kagame said the low expectations of Africans have led to other people not expecting to see good in Africa.

“In most places, cleanliness, law and order are taken for granted. In Africa, the reaction is surprise bordering on suspicion. This is why visitors sometimes have strange reactions upon discovering an African city that values cleanliness and lawfulness. This false notion that we are a people insensitive to universal values must be challenged and rejected. It starts with us. Can we improve who we are? But you don’t improve who you are by becoming someone else. We are made to believe that there are modern values we must live by but that is putting ourselves in a box. It comes down to one simple thing, does it work for you? Does it provide a solution? Whatever standard you choose, as long as they don’t give you a solution, they don’t matter. What is international standard, I thought standards was about resolving a problem. In Rwanda we try to be modern but build on our traditions.”

President Kagame pointed out that when Africans say negative things about Africa they are not playing victims but pointing them out for what they are. President Kagame said he has never played the victim card but simply acknowledges things when they are wrong and called on everyone to play their part and work together.