27 September 2019

Note: This article first appeared on Regionweek.com

Kagame said that when he was speaking at the World Leaders Forum, a year-round event series, and interacted with the University’s students, scholars, and faculty.

According to President Kagame, the African continent was under major positive changes characterized by developments such as the continental free trade area, participation in peacekeeping, regional integration as well as economic growth.

“Big changes are underway on our continent as well. The African Union has undergone financial and institutional reform to make it more effective. One outcome is the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the world’s largest,’ president Kagame said.

“The African Union conducts numerous peacekeeping and peacebuilding missions around the continent. Member States have contributed more than $100 million in the last few years, to the Peace Fund to support these activities with our own funds,” he added. 

Kagame further indicated that the progress, in Rwanda and the continent, is beyond statistics as it’s based on citizens’ welfare and participation.

“Numbers tell us a lot. But behind the data, you find real people. The progress we have seen over time in Rwanda is the result of a deliberate effort to nurture our unity,”

However, despite the progress, Kagame noted that Africa has been constantly subjected to negative perceptions as well as attempts to invalidate development and progress.

“You see, well-being has both objective and subjective dimensions. You cannot dictate how people should feel. People who feel hopeful about their lives are not going to change their minds, because you tell them the data show they should actually be unhappy. Africans are constantly subject to this kind of gas-lighting. It is as if the reality we know and live and see, requires external validation,” Kagame said.

As an example, Rwanda head of state noted that a majority of African leaders including him are often subjected to interrogation and criticism by the west about “about everything that is supposedly wrong with our countries.”

In most instances, the unsolicited inputs are not based on any reality but rather prejudice.

“Recently, I ended up telling one of them, “Who are you?” By which I meant, what kind of people do you think we are? African leaders answer to their people. There should be no room for intermediaries,” president Kagame told the audience.

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