President Kagame’s speech on October 19, 2012 in Kigali

Good morning all

Distinguished persons, teachers and students, all those listening

Let me start by thanking you.

I thank you for this good idea of this gathering and inviting us. I also thank you for what is included in the discussion that is constructive and aims at building our country.

You will allow me to mix languages but not do not worry for they are not many; only two. If many they will be three. The three languages I speak are, English, Kinyarwanda and Swahili but sometimes French when I want.

To save more time you can translate for your neighbour in case they don’t understand some of the languages. Maybe those studying ICT can invent an application that can translate immediately.

Students,Youth, this is a long stride people are making to see that you yourselves agree to take the lead to be leaders now. Not waiting for tomorrow, to be leaders of today, to take responsibility to be leaders. That’s how it should be and it starts early.

For the youth to take their proper role in leadership, it must start early. You don’t wait for tomorrow. You start as early as possible, it starts with individuals, then groups, then it goes up to the level of the nation and beyond.

Here we talk about you as individual students, as students groups, as a nation and as a continent, our continent of Africa is in dire need of change, change that must be and should be brought by you. You must carry the responsibility, and this is one way of doing that. I thank you on that note.

I was following the news and someone said something in an article I read; there was a francophonie summit, some people first passed somewhere before reaching Kinshasa for the summit.

There is one leader who passed through Senegal, from there he said some good words. We have been used to these good words for a long time, but the good words are not enough. Good ideas are not enough if you can’t build on them to put in practice.

Ultimately what matters is what you do, how well you do it and the results thereof. That’s what you can associate with the change that people want to see, that people want to have. What I want to tell you is that there is another African person that made a comment, he is an academician, and talked of a relationship between a horse and its rider. I picked something from that comment; Rwandans either want to be horses or they want to be horse riders.

If you want to be a horse there will be many riders who will be competing to ride you, they will whip you and ride you here and there, that is a relationship that isn’t sustainable. It’s a relationship we Rwandans or Africans cannot afford, and cannot afford to accept. We kind of have been in those positions of horses, we must change that and be riders of horses and donkeys. We can’t have people riding on us, we are not donkeys. It can only come from you; our young people, students, innovators, people who are able to create something, who have skills to enable them do a job, people who want to express themselves based on these values that we must be identified with. Nothing short of that, and this can only come from the determination of every individual, family, society of us Rwandans as a nation.

There have been these discussions probably for too long, but it is our duty as young people or students to make sure that we become the change agents that we should be and are capable of being. We must have that determination, we must make that choice, we must be able to do it. We are capable of doing it, because we are talented as much as any other person on this earth, isn’t it? Yes! Why should you be a secondary citizen on this planet earth? why should you? Ask yourself that question. Always ask yourself that Question. Challenge yourself and each other as colleagues. When you are in class or a laboratory, ask yourself this question, is your choice to become a secondary citizens on Earth? That’s the difference between who some people are today; languishing in poverty, disease, despair and others who think they are ordained to rule over others and tell them what to do and what not to do, just because of that difference I’m talking about.

Young people, our future, you must not accept that, it doesn’t mean saying no, you must do something about it. It’s not just about words, it’s saying no through what you do that brings about that change, and who says it is simple. I’m not saying its simple, I’m only saying we are just capable of doing it, but we have to make the right choices, we have to do the right things, we have to understand the purpose of doing that.

We have to fight for every inch of our territory in terms of giving ourselves dignity, nobody will give it to us, if you are sitting and waiting for somebody to hand it to you, you will wait forever. Others can only assist you, but should be able to do so in the direction you have chosen yourself. If you want them to make that choice for you, they will not lead you into a direction you want but will lead you in an opposite direction.

Yet actually the aspirations of everyone wherever you go, the young people like you, the young students; whether in Rwanda, Asia, America, their aspirations are the same. No one wants to be a horse so that others ride on them, everyone wants to be a horse rider, everyone wants to compete, everyone wants to exercise their freedoms, everyone wants to use their talents to improve their lives and the societies they live in. Where we come from presents to us a very difficult situation, we have a problem to deal with the challenges we face, and you are made to deal with challenges that come from else where created by the imbalances that exist in the relations as we know them globally.

Someone wants to come here, a young person like you, or even older, from somewhere else where things are seemingly ok. Those that have achieved a higher level of development will come and start telling people what is good for them, why don’t you know what is good for you? Why should someone else tell you what is good for you? Do you wait for someone else to tell you what is good for you? No, but If you appear to be waiting for that, there is always someone going to come and show you what is good for you, that is actually not good for you, so it will be a shared mistake. It will be a mistake of you waiting to be told what is good for you. Certainly it starts with you, the other mistake is for others to assume that they always have to always have to tell others what is good for them. That’s why taking responsibility for yourselves is extremely important.

We must be responsible for ourselves, responsible for our development, we must share this responsibility as well. We must see each other as having responsibility for one another and later on as a nation we must have responsibility for ourselves, isn’t it? Yes! A while ago, you were taking about facebook, tweeter, other aspects of social media, everyday I go through it and see people; some of them don’t even know Rwanda, maybe they don’t even care to be there, to even know what is happening. We will always care to give lessons to Rwandans, I keep asking myself, should Rwandans be accepting this kind of thing? Some of them living thousands of miles from here who know nothing about us, keep saying; in Rwanda there is no freedom. That is another form of denying Rwandans their freedom. You are denying Rwandans their freedom to express themselves. Once they have expressed themselves why don’t you accept what they are telling you, why should you be the one to decide whether Rwandans have this or don’t have this, who
gave you that right?

You want to come here and decide for these thousands of people here what they have or don’t have, what is good for them and what is not good for them? Do you really want to accept that kind of situation? No, you must be able to decide what is good for you and what is not good for you. You must be able to resolve any problem or any challenge arising out of having differences of opinion, that will always exist in society, that’s fine, that’s what it should be. You should be able to look each other in the eyes and say you know what; you have this proposal and I have this, but lets agree how to move forward because we have a common interest in the wellbeing of this country. We all have a right to and share, but for somebody else to make a judgment about us from no where, who doesn’t know anything about our culture, values? How this society is hurting because of our history part of which has been contributed to by external factors, the same people even like the rest in the world.

Our society may have certain imperfections we need to work on and improve, but I cannot have my own imperfections am working on improving to be better and move on, and then you bring your own imperfections and superimpose them on me and then I inherit mine and your imperfections. Nobody should accept this kind of situation. This is what we must resolve as young people aspiring to be leaders of our nation as leaders of tomorrow, infact leaders of today.

What you study in schools whichever background, is one big step, its very important but more important is how you use that for that purpose, more importantly how you build on the capacity you have built to contribute to the wellbeing of your people, society and nation and yourself. You may go to any school get any number of diplomas, that’s huge, important, but there is something more important waiting ahead and that’s is how are you going to sue this to improve yourself, your society and nation. How are you going to bring yours and his together for that purpose? This should constantly challenge you and must be always at the back of your mind. That’s how we will be able to move our country forward, we have no alternative, except if you have made a different choice that I wouldn’t understand.

If you have made a choice of being passive, waiting and hoping that somebody will rescue you and sympathize with you, you will be in a wrong place, that’s not a choice for a people who want to make a difference for themselves. So a legacy of self reliance is very important, you selected a good topic but I hope you understand the hard work.

It comes with a lot of hard work, that we must be able to undertake, no doubt about it, and we shouldn’t expect anyone else to be the one to undertake that hard work for us. It doesn’t work like that.

Why don’t I stop here. Thank you.



  1. OK!Now Kagame has turned into a motivational speaker!But he is saying nothing about our freedom of speech,our political space,our political prisoners,our week institutions he is manupulating….torture,Rwandese refugees, and many more evils he has done to us….He is only complaining because somebody somewhere is telling him what is wrong he cannot see in his country….instead he is inciting the youth by feeding them with propaganda….

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