The First Lady of Rwanda, Jeannette Kagame has said that from a devastating Genocide, Rwanda has changed the course by first bringing unity among citizens and embracing principles of a global society.
The First Lady has delivered a key note address on Unity and Reconciliation at the 2-day Global Citizen Forum that is taking place in Montenegro.
The Global Citizen Forum offers an exclusive opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with global leaders, industry visionaries, entrepreneurs and celebrities.
In the 2017 forum, distinguished thought leaders have decades of expertise in international development, philanthropy, economics and more.
The First Lady told the audience hardships Rwanda went through during the 1994 Genocide tragedy in Rwanda where more than one million Tutsi were killed by their Hutu compatriots.
The government of Unity and Reconciliation was established after the genocidal government was overthrown by Rwandan refugees who fought for their dignity and right to inherit their country.
The new government started afresh to rebuild Rwanda on a new but stronger foundation with three cornerstones:
“We chose to stay together, we chose to be accountable to ourselves, we chose to think big,” said Jeannette Kagame quoting President Paul Kagame in his speech during 20th commemoration of Genocide.
From this foundation Rwanda started shaping its future by building a robust education from Primary through tertiary education, which she said is viewed “as a powerful tool, able to drive the advancement of entire communities.”
“ We also focused on increasing the number of primary, secondary, and tertiary education institutions to help realize the economic and social transformation, envisioned in our national development plans,” said the First Lady.
Figures speak massively, and the difference is sounding; with just 2,500 graduates throughout decades until 1994, Rwanda has defied odds. There are close to 100,000 graduates from 46 schools in the last 2 decades.
Moreover, the First Lady said, Rwanda became on open society “where unnecessarily boundaries were dissolved.”
In this context, she said Rwanda became part of the larger African family, welcoming all Africans who get a visa upon arrival, and the rest of the world applying and getting visa online.
“As a rule, we believe in building bridges with all peoples and cultures, despite, or perhaps because of, a past marked by exclusion for many of us, who grew up in Rwanda or in exile,” said the First Lady Jeannette Kagame.
Enabling environment for free movement of people and goods, repatriation of refugees are other areas the First Lady put in this context.
Rwanda being an inclusive society also considers its vulnerable neighbors as valuable human being who need to benefit key services as its own citizen.
“We have for instance welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees and provided them, with access to the same education and health programmes services that our citizens benefit from, as we believe that refugees or not, they are human beings, who deserve nothing less than to be treated with dignity,” she said.
Other areas Mrs Jeannette Kagame mentioned include the Gacaca jurisdiction- community justice, a magic solution that helped Rwanda advance reconciliation path by trying about 2 million cases of Genocide within 10 years compared to 100 years it would take had Rwanda chosen to proceed by conventional courts.
The First Lady expressed disappointment that what happened in Rwanda is still happening in some other parts of the world but said she has hope it will all end if some conditions are met.
“When we understand that ‘races’ are not biological but rather, that we, as humans, make just one big ‘race’, with more similarities than differences,…” she said.
“Then it becomes possible to turn fearful circumstances into great opportunities, because then fear disappears from the equation, and love and oneness takes its place.”
The First Lady applauded founders of the Global Citizen forum.
She said, “You have appealed to the better judgment of man, and wakened us all to the inter-connectedness of the human experience, and you have demonstrated that our empathy, compassion, and determination, could well become the driving force to repair the world.”
Celebrities like Akon, a famous artist and founder of Light Africa, Irina Bokova, President of UNESCO, and Cherie Blair the wife of former Prime Minister of UK-Tonny Blair were some other speakers alongside First Lady Jeannette Kagame.