On Wednesday at Intare Conference Arena, over 2,000 youth met President Paul Kagame for a day of conversation on their role as leaders of today and tomorrow.
“Today, let’s just challenge ourselves, challenge each other. The best thing is that at the end of the day, we will be a step ahead of where we were when we came to meet here this morning,” Kagame said in his opening remarks.
“My role this morning is to welcome you. Looking around it seems I may also qualify as youth, I am seeing people who are even older than me.”
Kagame told youth that when they meet with others, they should not be the only one to speak, saying others must have the chance to speak.
“It is a give and take conversation. That is why today, I wanted to begin by listening to you the youth.”
“I want to encourage every speaker to relax, breathe. We are all in this together, we have the same goal. Speak freely. If you know how to sing and feel like it, feel free. Take it easy.”
Kagame told youth to start with themselves and what they can do for themselves.
“You can be a global citizen but we all have an origin. You begin by belonging to somewhere. And you have to start by building that place from which you are from.”
That is the starting point to trade with others and gain strength from each other, he noted.
He said youth are the strength of today and tomorrow, as they build themselves through education and gaining skills.
“You have to begin by being a healthy person. We need you healthy. We must be sure the investments we have made are going to last.”
He said it starts with every individual looking after themselves well, then when these investments are made, “we are sure” the sky is going to be the limit.
He said this world has a lot of opportunities, but there are also bad things that come in the mix.
Sometimes people just confuse everything and they cannot make a distinction between a good opportunity and the bad things, the president noted.
“Even when a cow is grazing, it chooses what it eats. It is selective about the type of grass, it does not just eat everything that is green. It avoids the ones with thorns.”
“It is the same for youth, you need to be selective, you need to choose what builds you personally and what will enable you to build the society around you. Don’t just accept anything.”
He said as young people, they have a lot of years ahead of them.
Reducing the number of years you have to live because of abusing alcohol is not acceptable, Kagame cautioned.
“We want to transform our country, achieve socio-economic development. There is no one else we expect this from. It is you. But this is on condition that you fulfil certain things.”
“As we work for development, as we work for our country to be secure, to be stable, to be free, to be really the best that we want to be and we are capable of being, you can’t wait for somebody else to come and do some of these things for you.”
He added: “You can’t outsource certain things. You can’t outsource values, principles, hard work. All these are things you must face and do. When I say you, I mean me as well, so we. You must understand the world we live in, it is not very kind, it is very harsh.”
According to Kagame, there is no one out there, who is thinking on youth’s behalf about how to solve their challenges.
He said there are even people out there who, when they know the burden youth carry, will work to make it heavier.