President Paul Kagame has told graduates of the Pan African leadership university that challenges are part of life, but they should always struggle to move ahead and reach desired achievements.
Kagame made the statement at the African Leadership University (ALU) School of Business – Kigali campus’ first graduation.
The ALU 2018 class graduated 38 students with Masters in Business and Admisration (MBA) on Saturday.
The president drew his examples from Rwanda’s liberation struggle.
“Earlier this week we celebrated the twenty-fourth anniversary of our country’s liberation,” he said referring to July 4.
“When we first set out, many of us in the liberation struggle did not have much management or leadership experience. We were forced to learn quickly from situations as they evolved often without warning and we had to devise solutions accordingly just to stay alive.”
Along the way, failure and success were registered.
He said; “Some of the calculated risks we took failed but many paid off. This was the case on the battlefront and later on as we worked to govern and manage our relations with other countries.”
The lesson here, he said, was that there will always be challenges along the way. What matters is to find ways to confront them head on and to continually make progress.
ALU graduates attend Lecture by Kagame
The same liberation lesson was part of president’s lecture to ALU students earlier in the morning before the graduation event.
“Liberation struggle is dealing with unpredictable situations. The stakes are high and you are focused on survival. Government allows time to plan. You have to understand the shift, learn to be patient and know that the approach has to be different,” he said.
“The individual mattered a lot in liberation. During struggle worries were how many lives were lost, lack of resources, is there enough food for the soldiers, do we have enough ammunition. We got used to this kind of pace and dealing with these details.”
This was an opportunity for the graduates to get first hand the liberation struggle and its strong lesson for the ‘African Leaders of the Century’ which is one of the school’s mottos.
He told the students that while details of the liberation struggle obliged to look at each and every individual, when it comes to government, the style of leadership has to be upgraded.
“With government you understand that there are certain objectives you have to reach and if you fall short it may delay and the implications will be felt by your citizens and country,” he said.
However, you still don’t ignore details because together, they make a full package of goals.
“It is good to look at the big picture that builds on certain layers of details you want to achieve. If you don’t care to go through these details, the big picture then remains in name and not deeds,” Kagame said.
Kagame indicated that leaders need to engage potential players of the desired achievements into conversation, but they should also be accountable at any stage.
“I also have a responsibility for which I have to be accountable. I cannot sit and wait for things to get done. I am always afraid of saying I don’t know if I am asked what went wrong,” Kagame said.
“We have to be able to explain. That is what urges me to be as detailed,” he said adding that he even instills in his children this spirit of accountability.
Same accountability applies to government officials, and Kagame said, he never tolerates while holding people accountable.
“I am not expected to be nice even when you make a mistake. Sometimes there are hard conversations. If I relate to you that way it is not because I don’t like you, it is because the issues we are dealing with demand that,” he said.
Rwanda is the Right Place
Several officials of ALU and other speakers shared their experience about Rwanda and how it facilitates new initiatives, which is an indication of good leadership.
ALU had invited Strive Masiyiwa, founder and CEO of Econet to speak at the graduation.
He shared a story how he struggled to lay the optic cable for internet across African countries, spending some three to five years to convince a country to allow that infrastructure from South Africa through East Africa.
Once in Rwanda however, negotiations took him only a couple of days.
“Your excellency today we are at the right place in history. Allow me to begin by acknowledging the extraordinary students who are at the right place in this country,” Masiyiwa said.
The ‘extraordinary students’ are from 16 countries across Africa plus United States and Switzerland. The list includes two men and a woman from Rwanda.
“This university has given me a foundation to create jobs for many Africans-Our president gave us advice how this can work,” Fabrice Ndatira, one of the graduates of the 20 months program told KT Press.