Mrs. Kagame was speaking about unity and reconciliation in the Global Citizen Forum Thursday in Montenegro, under the theme ‘Opportunities in the age of uncertainty’
She said that before 1994, the politics of division had gradually weaved its way into the everyday lives of Rwandans, culminated in one of the worst tragedies ever, genocide.
“One million lives were brutally cut short, through a hateful wave of killings that would mark the psyche of our nation for generations to come. Hundreds of thousands of women were viciously raped, and subsequently infected with HIV/AIDS; while 50,000 widows and 75,000 orphans survived the tragedy. The physical wounds have since healed, but the emotional scars still linger” she said.
She said that the 100 days of genocide marked a total failure of the concept of ‘global citizenship’ and its needed civic responsibility where international communities left people who were being killed.
She said that Tutsi, Hutu and Twa are ethnic fabric of the Rwandan society contrary to before colonial period, where they had been living together in peaceful environment.
First lady said that Rwandans embraced new mindset, which empowered them with the ability to shape their future.
“We viewed education as a powerful tool, able to drive the advancement of entire communities, so we also focused on increasing the number of primary, secondary, and tertiary education institutions to help realize the economic and social transformation, envisioned in our national development plans” she said
“As a rule, we believe in building bridges with all peoples and cultures, despite, or perhaps because of, a past marked by exclusion for many of us, who grew up in Rwanda or in exile” she noted.
She said that such reasoning led the country to work towards the repatriation of Rwandan refugees to their home country, by establishing socio-economic programmes facilitating their return, ahead of the cessation clause of Rwandan refugee status, set for the end of December 2017.
“We also believe that there is more to be gained at a human and economic level, by opening up to others. That is why we made a conscious decision to allow Rwandans to hold a double citizenship, to advocate for a no-visa policy within Africa, in line with our continental policy for Free Movement of People, Goods and Services, and more generally, to simplify travel processes for every visitor” she explained.
She said that as Rwanda was marked with terrible past, the country decided to play part, in the protection of other threatened populations across the World
“We have for instance welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees and provided them, with access to the same education and health programmes services that our citizens benefit from, as we believe that refugees or not, they are human beings, who deserve nothing less than to be treated with dignity” she explained
She told participants to understand that ‘races’ are not biological and urged humans to make one big ‘race’, with more similarities than differences.
When we accept that in the grand scheme of things, we are more together, than the sum of each of us alone; then it becomes possible to turn fearful circumstances into great opportunities, because then fear disappears from the equation, and love and oneness takes its place, said Mrs Kagame
The Global Citizen Forum is a two day event, attended by global leaders, industry visionaries, entrepreneurs as well as celebrities