Value your continent, Kagame tells African youth
President Paul Kagame has called on the youth from African Union member states to be agents of change that the continent urgently longs for.
Kagame, who is also the Chairperson of the African Union, on Friday, met a group of African Union Youth Corps, who have been in Rwanda for a two-week training on volunteerism.
The programme brought together 90 young professionals from 45 AU member states, including 15 from Rwanda.
The Head of State reminded the youth that the AU’s objective is to make sure no African country is left behind in terms of transformation notwithstanding historical differences.
He added it is paramount that the young people build a synergy through which every African nation would break free from the bondage of poverty and backwardness that have hindered the continent’s transformation.
“We have always been quick to learn bad manners. During colonial times, we were taught that we were different and should kill each other. There is no better way of changing this than with you young people,” Kagame said.
President Kagame noted that much as there are some differences amongst some African regions, the similarities are immensely enough to galvanise the continent towards a common cause.
“Even in those differences among Africans”, Kagame said, “there are positives; being different is not a negative”.
President Kagame recognised that there are problems that are unique to different parts of the continent but also noted that there is no problem is insurmountable if the continent pools resources together.
“There are problems that are specific to different parts of our continent but the more we work and stand together the more strength we have in tackling these challenges”.
‘Africa is not cursed’
Kagame also urged the African youth to be proud of their continent and, in so doing, they will find value in doing things that can transform their communities, reminding them that the notion of some fleeing the continent in search for greener pastures abroad should be something of the past and does not reflect the existing opportunities the continent offers.
Many have ended up drowning in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to cross to Europe.
“Stop making Africa look like a cursed continent. God gave us more than what He gave others. Let us be proud of our continent and use these resources,” he said adding that Africa needs the youth to think and do things differently and better than the older generation.
Kagame also challenged African leaders to embrace an open market through which the African people, especially the youth, can interact and trade with each other, thrive and build the continent they want.
Meanwhile, Kagame urged the youth volunteers to be agents of change they want to see in their communities through service.
“Volunteering is a matter of choice. When we got involved as young people in liberating our country, we did not expect any benefits. We wanted people to find a purpose beyond themselves. As young people you don’t have as many limitations as you perceive. You have the potential in you to be anything you want. You can contribute to make your country and continent what it deserves to be,” he said.
President Kagame also urged the young people to take lead in the establishment of home-grown solutions that best fits the needs of their respective communities.
Ngwenya Prudence Nonkululeko, Head of Human Resource and Youth Development at AU Commission, said the youth have learned a lot while in Rwanda, from culture to homegrown solutions, which she said will be significant for their services across the continent.
She also noted that the meeting with President Kagame was an inter-generational dialogue that is geared towards nurturing Pan-African carders and leaders of today and tomorrow.
Ngwenya’s comments were echoed by Mona Mustafa, a youth volunteer from Egypt.
“To be honest, Rwanda has exceeded our expectations; it is very clean, safe and organised, that has been a huge lesson for each one of us. Rwanda is a great inspiration for Africa and we hope to take these lessons to transform the entire continent,” Mustafa said.
Sara Jama Mohamed, from Somalia, also noted that the programme gave her the opportunity to discover the values that have made Rwanda what it is today and Pan-African values that she will apply back home to make her community a better place.