The Head of State delivered the message to over 2,000 youths from across the country and the diaspora during a meeting at the Rusororo based Intare Conference Arena.
“There is no better place, there are no better people to have this conversation with, than here and with you. It is your choice to refuse to be stepped on and say ‘I am my own self’,” he told the youth.
The gathering aimed to engage the young generation on the national aspirations for the next 25 years, inspired by the country’s Vision 2050. It also sought to encourage them to be self-driven in an effort to consolidate the gains the country has made over the last couple of years.
President Kagame challenged them to always refuse to be dictated on what to do as Rwandans, rallying them to stand up for their rights and choose to do what they want to do and claim their spot in the world.
“As we work for development, as we work for our country to be secure, to be stable, to be free, to be really the best that we want to be and we are capable of being, you can’t wait for somebody else to come and do some of these things for you,” Kagame said.
“You can’t outsource certain things. You can’t outsource values, principles, hard work, all these are things you must face and do. When I say you, I mean me as well, so we…You must understand the world we live in, it is not very kind, it is very harsh. There is no one out there, who is thinking on your behalf about how to solve your challenges,” he added.
On recent claims by Financial Times that Rwanda manipulates data, the President said that: “I wish I could make any data to toe my line because my line, am convinced, is a good one. I will bet with anyone that there is actually nothing fake or fabricated or doctored about the progress we are making.”
The UK based newspaper on Tuesday wrongly claimed that Rwanda manipulates data to portray a positive outlook of its social economic progress.
The article came out a day after international agency, Standard and Poor’s, upgraded Rwanda’s credit rating from B to B+ on account of strong economic growth prospects, which are characterised by high investor conference in the economy.
The rating is an independent assessment of the country’s creditworthiness. It is important because it gives investors insight into the level of risk associated with investing in the debt of a particular country, including any political risk.
There is such a thing as western propaganda, the President warned as he rallied the youth to partake in the fight against western stereotype on Africa.
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“That is why I really want us to be together in this fight, because it is a fight for who we are and who we want to be. It is a fight about ourselves, about Rwandans, about Africans,” he said. “We have been downtrodden largely because of ourselves. Because we have not addressed some of the things that people build on to look down upon us.”
He added; “We are still far from where we want to be but surely we don’t want to be where other people want us to be,” he said. “If we don’t develop the mind-set that all these things we are trying to achieve are good for us, that we are not doing this because we want to impress anybody, then everything else we discussed, impressive as it was, will be wasted.”
The meeting served as a platform to explain the various opportunities in the country which the young people can tap into to create their own jobs and develop different types of knowledge.
In addition, it focused on fostering an understanding of liberation as an intergenerational journey that is crucial to sustainably improve lives of Rwandans.
Held under the theme of “The Promise of a Generation”, it was organised by the Ministry of Youth as a way to consolidate values of unity and self-reliance among young Rwandans.
At the beginning of the conversation President Kagame urged the youth to freely express themselves and also challenge themselves and learn from each other.
The youth pitched ideas on how they can improve their lives, starting from working together in cooperatives of people who share the same skillsets to create jobs, exploiting current advancements in the area of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and increasing efforts in the areas of scientific research and development.
They also pledged to continue working to develop their country and being indeed the catalysts of positive change as young people.
Participants at the meeting included youth representatives under the National Youth Council, young professionals, young entrepreneurs, students from higher learning institutions, leaders of different youth organisations, Rwandan youth from the diaspora, as well as graduates of Indangamirwa civic education programme.