President Paul Kagame yesterday told students of Bahir Dar University, in Ethiopia, to use their voice to stand up for what is right.
The President said this after the Ethiopian university conferred to him an honorary Doctor of Laws in recognition of his role in stopping the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, championing the empowerment of women and ensuring Rwanda’s sustainable development. The President was accompanied by the First Lady Jeannette Kagame.
“You have as much stake in this world of ours as anyone. Take your seat, Africa’s seat at the high table. In every situation strive to bring people together never to divide them. We benefit from our diverse ideas and identity,” Kagame said.
Whether as a nation, continent or the world, he added, there is always a way to build a common purpose and “we should strive” for this.
“Thank you for this great honor bestowed upon me and my people, this speaks a lot to how much we can do as brothers and sisters. We will continue to work together ever more closely with the people of this great nation of the Republic of Ethiopia.
These are among the African and universal values that you youth inherit and you should be proud.”
The President thanked Bahir Dar University for awarding him with a honorary degree which pays tribute not just to him but also the Rwandan people.
“This recognition is a great honor to the struggle of the Rwandan people for liberation and prosperity.”
“You got it right by emphasizing the huge role Rwandan women have played in Rwanda’s rebirth. Thank you for that. Our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia have been with us, all the way, which we will always appreciate and reciprocate. I am honoured to stand together with you today and to be associated with this university and the great nation of Ethiopia.”
“To the new graduates. Like your parents, I came of age in a different Africa with complicated circumstances. Injustice and bad politics prevented many of us from attending university. Even the right to live, was not always assured. We had no choice but to struggle and fight to secure the dignity and opportunity we now enjoy and deserve.”
Kagame then urged the graduates to build on “this foundation” and do even more and better for the continent’s future.
“We must therefore never take for granted how far we have come and the sacrifice required to get to where we are today. Neither can we be satisfied with mediocrity or praise for small ambitions. We live in a better Africa than ever before.”
He told them that it is not enough to have a degree or to be young. More important, he said, is the mindset of ownership, responsibility and curiosity. The biggest part of any problem, President Kagame added, is accepting it as normal.
President Mulatu Teshome and Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Tedros Adhanom, including Chief Administrator of Amhara Regional State, Gedu Andargachew, attended the event.
President Teshome said: “It is an honor for us to have President Kagame grace this graduation. A continued testament of our close relations.”
“On behalf of the Government, I would like to thank the University for presenting this degree to President Kagame. Congratulations President Kagame on receiving this honorary Doctor of Laws. May our two countries continue to prosper.”
Bahir Dar University located in the city of Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara National Regional State in Ethiopia, graduated 8, 321 students trained in first, second and doctorate degree programs.