Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has hit back at France President Francois Holland’s statement during the recent Francophonie Summit in Darkar, Senegal.
On November 30, speaking at the 15th biennial summit of the International Organisation of Francophonie, Hollande lectured African leaders on democratic values and warned some not to seek power beyond constitutional term limits.
Holland spent nearly half an hour lecturing over 20 African leaders on democracy and civil liberties; admonishing and praising the Burkinabés for overthrowing former president, Blaise Compaore, in a popular uprising.
Holland’s statements, including threatening to support any African upraising, angered many African leaders, including President Kagame, who had not attended the event, but represented by Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, who also snapped at Holland via press interviews shortly after the summit.
“Something happened in a meeting I was supposed to attend, but I didn’t attend, of people who speak the same language.” Kagame said, inferring to the Francophonie countries, of which Rwanda is a member.
He said ‘one of the leaders’ (Holland), “was very scaving about majority of the African leaders there, wagging a finger at them, and so sadly, they were applauding.”
Kagame who was addressing over 500 youths at a gala in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, organised by Imbuto Foundation Young Professionals Forum; a philanthropy run by the First Lady, Jeanette Kagame, said “I felt some sickness to my stomach.”
Kagame wondered why Africans accept to be patronized. “How can we be the people to have a finger wagged at us?…think about it.”
Joseph Rwagatare, a local political critic, told KTPress that Kagame spoke for many Africans, and insinuated that if any African leader made similar remarks to Holland in a Western country, “You would be run out of town right away.”
Kagame took the advantage to criticize Africans for continued dependence on foreign aid. “It’s absurd,” he said. “How can we accept that our countrymen…live at the whims of others, not just once, but on a permanent basis?”
He said the buzz word for Africa today is ‘Africa’s moment’, but he wondered, “When was it not Africa’s moment?”, triggering applause from the hundreds of youths. “We were just absent,” he said.
Kagame encouraged young Rwandans to work hard and seek self-reliance. “No one else will do the hard work for you. Understand from the beginning that you are the one to carry this burden,” he said. “Do the hard work that needs to be done. You can’t avoid it.”
The First Lady asked youths to become professionals and ambassadors of change.
“We need to cultivate the spirit of connecting, the good work we do at different levels, building confidence based on knowledge and sharing our knowledge with others,” she said.
Imbuto foundation has in the past seven years, engaged youths in discussions that help them navigate pathways of life.
The Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, advised youth to seize opportunities and become entrepreneurial.
By: Magnus Mazimpaka