Rwanda President Paul Kagame on Saturday removed his gloves and went local against Europeans who have taken it upon themselves to lecture African presidents on how to lead their people.
President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame were attending Unity Club 21st Anniversary Dinner. He also officiated at the opening ceremony of the Rwanda Cricket Stadium in Gahanga.
Kagame told Unity Club members that the club means a lot to Rwandans, their country, their history and generations ahead.
He said Rwanda has two narratives: “history showed us the bad people are capable of, today we see the good that comes from people”.
Germany colonised Rwanda in 1884 as part of German East Africa, followed by Belgium, which invaded in 1916 during the First World War. Both European nations ruled through the kings and perpetuated a pro-Tutsi policy.
–foreign hand in Rwandan genocide–
Kagame said the tragedy [1994 Rwandan Genocide] happened because Rwandans allowed it but it doesn’t mean that there was no foreign hand.
“In fact it is 50/50,” Kagame who until of recent had no kind words for the French, said. According to witness records, French soldiers escorted Hutu militias to butcher Tutsi and later played football on their graves.
During these events and in the aftermath, the United Nations (UN) and countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium were criticized for their inaction and failure to strengthen the force and mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) peacekeepers.
Other observers criticised the government of France for alleged support of the Hutu government after the genocide had begun.
“I don’t put much emphasis on foreign hand, I look at what we can do to avoid being on the same path as the past,” Kagame said on Saturday.
“We may all think differently but the outcome must be one that benefits the common interest. There are two stories of Rwanda but ultimately we must have ONE Rwanda that represents common good that benefits all Rwandans.”
President Kagame said lack of freedom is not that the situation doesn’t provide it, it is that one even don’t give it to oneself.
“We have continued to be slaves, the colonial mentality still drives our thinking. The interpretation of our own self & how we live our lives comes from out there and we start believing that we are like that.”
Kagame said if a European says this African is a certain way, “you must accept it, if you answer back, you are called intolerant of dissent”.
He said the Europeans are not thinking about the people but about the interest they can achieve by manipulating leaders of African societies.
–attacks human rights watch—
He then turned attention to Human Rights Watch, a US organisation that has been on his back, criticising him and chronicling alleged human rights violations in Rwanda.
“I stand in a better place for human rights than you, I put my life on the line for the freedom of our people,” Kagame told HRW.
He then indirectly hit at France and Belgium that played a passive role during the mass slaughter: “You pulled your troops while our people were being killed. I was here fighting. What human rights are you talking about?”
Kagame said Rwanda used to be fed by rations from World Food Programme [WFP]. “When you want to grow agriculture, they call you a dictator.”
He added: “We were all created by God. Between me and God, there is nobody. I do not know anyone who can stand above our society.”
He said Rwandans must harness their unity and use it to build a better future for their children. “The best way to worry about the afterlife is to worry about how well you live your life here.”