President Paul Kagame met yesterday with thousands of Rwandans from across Europe who were gathered in Ghent for Rwanda Day.
Speaking on Rwanda’s progress to date, President Kagame pointed to a nation that has redefined itself:
“We are writing a new destiny for our nation, one based on unity, hard work, truth and self-reliance,” Kagame said.
The Head of State also challenged participants to view changes in global trends with countries who have publicly stated that their interests come first as an opportunity to apply lessons from the past and achieve self reliance:
“It is a reminder to all of us to ask ourselves why it was ever in their interest to care for you. It reminds us to challenge ourselves to be self reliant. We should not wait for people to care for us,” Kagame said.
“Our history taught us long ago, when we had to rescue ourselves, that we can only rely on ourselves,” Kagame added.
The President also emphasised that Africans who are living in Europe can greatly contribute in positively changing lives back home in Africa because they have gained skills that can be used on the continent.
“Living abroad does not mean forgetting your home. You can use what you gain to improve your nation from where you are,” Kagame told about participants at the forum.
Sharing the discussion held earlier in the week at the European Development Days, Kagame highlighted the importance of true partnership between Africa and Europe:
“Africa’s prosperity is not a threat to Europe. A wealthier Africa means even greater prosperity for Europe,” he said referring to the discussions held at the European Development Days earlier this week.
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, told the gathering that Rwanda is currently a happier country than in the past when it was torn up by politics of divisionism.
“Rwanda is a country that suffered so much from a history of discrimination. But today we are a country that fights discrimination and exclusion,” she said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister added that the government encourages Rwandans to tap into opportunities that are available abroad and also welcomes other people on its territory.
“Every African has to feel at home in Rwanda. Rwanda believes in pan-African development and we have opened our doors to all Africans,” she said.
Questions and comments shared at the forum from members of the Rwandan Diaspora in Europe revolved around thanking the president for making Rwanda a better place. The participants also took the opportunity to seek assistance to solve challenges faced such as land security and other investment challenges.
“Our country has achieved a lot as a result of your good ideas. We also appreciate that we currently have stronger institutions,” said Emmanuel Rubayiza who lives in Switzerland.
Claudine Mukeshimana, a Rwandan who used to live in Belgium but is now currently living in Rwanda as an entrepreneur in the leather industry, requested for the cooperation of the Rwandan Diaspora in promoting goods made in Rwanda.
Jacquéline Karekezi, a Rwandan mother who lives in Switzerland, thanked the president for having liberated Rwanda because their children now have a place to call home even if they live abroad.
“Our kids are no longer asked where they come from,” she said.