President Paul Kagame has revealed Rwanda’s youthful population is the key driving the country’s future and the older generation must support them.
Kagame admitted this on Monday while addressing an attentive audience of over 3000 guests currently attending the 13th edition of the National Dialogue Council, locally known as ‘Umushyikirano’ at Camp Kigali (Rwanda Conference Centre).
The gathering included members of the diplomatic corps, Rwanda’s local and national leaders, the media, Rwandan ordinary citizens and friends of Rwanda.
“There are important reasons why the conversation (about Rwanda) has moved in this future-minded direction. For one, the overwhelming majority of the people who approved the revised Constitution are young Rwandans. They belong to a generation that has never had reason to fear a policeman, or bribe a petty bureaucrat for the right to live,” Kagame started.
The president observed particular that the country has a new generation of Rwandans who are not imprisoned by the Rwanda’s past history and they should be let thrive that way.
“Many have never heard gunfire, much less experienced those moments of cold terror that left so many invisible scars in their parents’ hearts.
We should celebrate this. This is the future we always wanted for our children. They take the normality of the new Rwanda for granted, and that is okay,” Kagame added to thunderous applause.
And he’s right.
According to available statistics, during the year 2015, Rwanda population was projected to increase by 347 452 people and reach 12 792 002 in the beginning of 2016. The 2015 trends still show the country’s population structure will continue to reflect a youthful population.
For instance the 2015 statistics show Rwandans aged below 15 years stand at 42.9% or 5,333,859 (2,686,778 males and 2,646,956 females) of the total population. On the other hand, Rwandans aged between 15 and 64 years constitute 54.7% or 6,809,58 (3,390, 642 males and 3,419 016 females), while those aged above 64 years are 2.4% or 120 588 males and 180 446 females. This means that over 70% of the Rwandan population is both young and youthful.
While acknowledging this fact, Mr. Kagame implored the rest of the country to be thankful to the older generation and what they have done to set the pace for the country’s forward match.
“The generation that lived through the worst moments of our history has fully absorbed its lessons. They rebuilt this country by transforming fear into hope. Let us be thankful for them as well. These Rwandans have told us that we can do more and better, even faster. And they are right. We don’t want to be a status quo country or status quo people,” he said.
Mr. Kagame laid out the fundamentals with which the Rwandan society will thrive.
“Vision 2020 was about what we had to do in order to survive and regain our dignity. But Vision 2050 has to be about the future we choose, because we can, and because we deserve it. Rwandans will not be satisfied to live paycheck to paycheck, harvest to harvest, without accumulating wealth and financial security.”
He said all this would take the marshaling of the Rwandan spirit that moves Rwandans to live close to their families, which they love and strive to watch them thrive.
He observed that Rwandans had also reached that stage where they aspire to travel the world in search of new ideas and experiences, unhindered by barriers, and then fly proudly back home to Rwanda because there is no other place they would rather live. He added that Rwandans want a good politics that keeps delivering results, and always respects the fundamental principles established in the Constitution, which is the basis of their dignity, and drive to achieve.
“Agaciro (self worth) is born of the lives of struggle and sacrifice that we have all lived. But it is no less important as our lives get better because the opposite of Agaciro is not poverty, but self-doubt.”
Mr. Kagame hoped that with these fundamentals in place, the country was in no doubt on a quick road to prosperity.
“One day, in the not-too-distant future, we will make this country prosperous, not by riding on the backs of others, but by cooperating on the basis of our own abilities, knowledge, and desire to succeed,’ he promised.
What is Umushyikirano?
According to rwandapedia.rw being one of the several homegrown solutions, Umushyikirano translates to a meeting where participants are able to exchange ideas, share experiences and question each other.
“As part of efforts to reconstruct Rwanda and nurture a shared national identity, the Government of Rwanda drew on aspects of Rwandan culture and traditional practices to enrich and adapt its development programs to the country’s needs and context. The result is a set of Home Grown Solutions – culturally owned practices translated into sustainable development programs. One of these Home Grown Solutions is Umushyikirano,” says rwandapedia.rw.
Coordinated under the office of the Prime Minister and governed by the Rwandan Constitution (Article 168), Umushyikirano helps participants debate issues relating to the state of the nation, the state of local government and national unity.
This year’s Umushyikirano is premised on the theme; ‘ Rwandans’ Choices- Foundation for National Development and Dignity.’
It enters its second and last day this morning with the topic: ‘Scaling up citizens’ participation and innovations for development.’