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Kagame Is a Big Dreamer Like Mandela – Graça Machel

by Dan Ngabonziza
7:45 pm

Grace Machel on Panel with PM Edouard Ngirente and ALU founder

The former South African First Lady and chancellor of Africa Leadership University (ALU) Graça Machel says there are closer similarities between President Kagame and Nelson Mandela.

Both, she says, “are big dreamers” despite difference in generation and age.

According to Machel, “Kagame is is able to combine a big dream with a practical approach,” she said.

“Madiba and President Kagame shared the profound preoccupation and focus on nation building, national reconciliation and creating a common destiny. They are big dreamers with a very practical approach despite different contexts and times,” Machel told a 100 Mandela Centennial Scholars in an interactive session at Kigali Heights in the capital Kigali.

On Septermber 6, Machel and Rwanda’s Prime Minister Dr. Edourd Ngirente, held an interactive session with Mandela Centennial Scholars.

African Leadership University (ALU) based in Rwanda’s capital Kigali in partnership with the Graça Machel Trust and the Mandela Institute of Development Studies (MINDS) launched the “Mandela Centennial Scholarship Programme”, a landmark scholarship that will celebrate the 100th birthday of one of the greatest African leaders of the last century – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, fondly known as Madiba.

The objective of the Mandela Centennial Scholars Programme is to honor President Mandela’s legacy and carry forward the important work he began in education by giving the opportunity to 100 outstanding young Africans from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend ALU.

Graca Machel

ALU is a network of world-class tertiary education institutions whose mission is to produce 3 million young African leaders over the next 50 years.

With its first campus established in September 2015 in Mauritius and second campus in September 2017 in Rwanda, the institute wants to produce Africa’s next critical thinkers and leaders.

Explaining the reason why the second campus was established in Rwanda, Machel said; “Rwanda stands an example of how Africa can be re-invented.”

“People just look at Rwanda in terms of development. But having gone through the Genocide, there is a strong foundation of reconciliation under President Kagame’s leadership,”She said.

In a Q&A session, scholars engaged Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente in a number of questions on how Rwanda has, despite suffering the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, transformed into a rapidly growing nation.

In response, the Prime Minister said all has happened because: “President Kagame is a humble leader who always visits citizens in almost every district of the country.”


Asked more on what Rwanda carries on its back to be more productive, the Prime Minister mentioned one of the key factors of production that has been left out.

“As an economist, I remember our professors teaching us factors of production such as labour, capital and others. But I have always wondered how one important factor was left out; leadership,” the Prime Minister told scholars.

Present at the session were government officials, business people and members of the civil society, scholars, to mention but a few.