Rwanda, Africa -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/27/2012 -- In June last year, US civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson moved up the podium to introduce President Paul Kagame at what had been dubbed ‘Rwanda Day’ event in downtown Chicago. He was part of a long list of global names that joined Rwandans in North American to connect with those back home.
For the second year in a row, this time September 22-23, 2012, thousands of Rwandans and friends of Rwanda descended on Boston, Massachusetts. The event was intended as a celebration of Rwandan culture, along with the economic and social progress being made in the past 18 years.
Boston’s 10 Huntington avenue was all gleaming with brand Rwanda over during the weeks leading up to the D-day. And when it came, inside the Westin Copley arena, thousands of Rwandan Diaspora cheered and danced at the two-day event. On Sunday afternoon, guest speaker President Kagame was received with applause – a show of the audience’s trust in his work in transforming their homeland.
“We should not allow anybody to define us without us...” he said in an unscripted speech, only depending on prepared notes. “We have to look for solutions in us; we have abilities we are not aware of unless we try.” President Kagame said that the responsibility to build Rwanda squarely rested on the shoulders of Rwandans, both at home and abroad.
“Did you know..?” He told the Diaspora community that Rwandans back home were working hard, individually and collectively, to better their lives. Rwandans needed to tell their story, or somebody else twisted it to suit their agenda, said the President.
“Did you know…” he said, that Rwanda had been rated as the third most competitive country on the African continent and remains top in the east Africa region, according to the World Economic Forum.
“Did you know…” added the President, Rwanda has became the world’s admiration for its tough stance on corruption. Anti-graft group ‘Transparency International’ ranks Rwanda far ahead in comparing kickbacks and bribery compared to none of its regional and continental neighbours.
The statistics show 42% Ugandans viewing their country as prone with corruption. In Tanzania, prevalence is 39.1%, Kenya with 29.5% and Burundi with 18.8% - as compared to Rwanda having only 2.5 percent. Even among this figure, they had not directly faced graft; as the report puts it.
DRC not Rwanda’s problem
President Kagame said that the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the failure on the part of the Congolese leadership and the international community. Rwanda has contested the contents of three UN reports that have been published in the past months alleging Kigali’s link to the conflict in eastern DRC.
“We are the top beneficiaries of peace and stability of the same peace in Congo, we can’t invest in war,” said Kagame. “Rwanda has been pushing more than others to have successful integration in the region…We can't be people who benefit most from peace in the region whilst investing in destabilising the same region.”
The President said the origins of the conflict ravaging eastern DRC precedes generations before himself and everybody inside the Rwanda Day venue. “Some people are innocently ignorant about the crisis on that country because they are reading more about Rwanda than Congo itself,” added Kagame.
Town hall-style discussion
Rwanda Day 2012 had the theme: ‘AGACIRO, THE JOURNEY CONTINUES’, that aimed at reminding Rwanda’s Diasporas to focus on the better future with the rest of their countrymen and women back home. The Rwanda Day North America was for the first time held in Chicago City – the State of Illinois (USA), and a similar event in Paris for Rwandan Diaspora in Europe.
At the 2012 session, those attending had the opportunity to speak directly to President Kagame in a town hall-style discussion. A group of Pan African academic organisations representing various academic and faith-based organisations awarded the President with a ‘Commendation’ – describing him as a true African.
A Rwandan female designer based in Boston presented the President with a designer T-shirt inscribed with the President’s image. Another Rwandan woman said she had expertise in helping children with special needs, and was seeking to know the government’s policy framework regarding these children.
Friends of Rwanda, who are ordinary individuals and senior citizens in their countries, were also at the event. A Ugandan, Charles Kirumira, who owns an IT company in Rwanda narrated that he tried but failed for six months to open a business in his country. When he tried Rwanda, the business was already on the books in two days.
A Singaporean businessman said he travelled all the way to attend the event. As for, Abdulahi, a Senegalese living in Canada, all he could say was that he loves Rwanda and its culture.
On day One, opened by Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, different activities were showcased.
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