Rwandan First Lady Jeannette Kagame has emphasised the vital role of the youth in fostering sustained national unity, tasking them to live up to the responsibility of sustaining the established foundation of unity in the country while exhibiting befitting Rwandan values.
In a powerful address on Sunday, October 29, during the 16th forum of the Unity Club, he First Lady spoke at a youth empowerment event and called on young people to become champions of unity, working together to build a stronger and more inclusive society.
Recognising the diversity within the country, the First Lady stressed the importance of embracing differences and celebrating the rich tapestry of cultures that make up the nation. She highlighted that unity does not mean uniformity but rather a collective effort to understand and respect one another’s perspectives.
The Unity Club is an association that brings together members of the cabinet, former and present, their spouses, and other top government officials, with the purpose of promoting unity and contributing to the socio-economic development of the country.
The forum was held under the topic “Ndi Umunyarwanda, the theme that defines our union.”
Reflecting on the past 29 years since the liberation of Rwanda, she noted that there are commendable achievements made in the journey of unity and reconciliation among Rwandans. “We chose to be one and committed to unity and inclusivity among Rwandans that love, work for, and protect their country,” she said.
First Lady Jeannette Kagame poses for a group photo with members of the Unity Club at the 16th forum of the Unity Club on Sunday, October 29. Courtesy
Mrs. Kagame emphasized that it was at the cost of unconditional sacrifice and resilience that people emerged from the great darkness, highlighting that it should be fundamental to national unity.
“Ndi Umunyarwanda is a responsibility and a right, reason why it should be pivotal in whatever we do. That is when it will not only be mere words but translate into actions, even being instated in our DNAs. That way, generations will grow with befitting values.”
She commended the living and late Protectors of the Friendship Pact (Abarinzi b’Igihango) for their exceptional deeds in promoting national unity.
“We have an extremely important but doable mandate of extending to our children a legacy of meaningful benefits of unity. We should not be defeated by immoral actions of favouritism, corruption, and malice, which would deter us from Ndi Umunyarwanda spirit.”
She questioned the youth about their readiness in taking on the mandate of sustaining what has already been achieved and challenged the elders to demonstrate critical thinking in identifying and countering threats to the country’s unity.
“The country relies on your strength and capabilities that will sustain the foundation we have built. How ready are you to accept the baton to be protectors of Ndi Umunyarwanda? We request you to be patriotic and exemplary while exhibiting moral values which will help you to have clear objectives that lead to sustainable development of our country,” she told the youth.
“You are not too young to understand the country’s vision.”
Jean Damascene Bizimana, Minister of National Unity and Civic Engagement, noted that the unity among Rwandans is commendable, however, there is still a gap that needs to be bridged, especially when it comes to transnational engagement.
The Reconciliation Barometer study conducted in 2020 indicated that 98 percent of Rwandans believe that ‘Ndi umunyarwanda’ plays a role in building national unity and 88 percent reportedly participate in dialogues of unity.
The study also revealed that the level of unity among Rwandans has increased by 2.2 percent within five years (2015-2020) attributed to different policies that seek to build inclusivity and unity.
However, it noted that 5.3 percent of people reported to disassociate themselves from the journey of unity and reconciliation, Bizimana, told the members of Unity Club that if taken lightly, this might disrupt the efforts invested in building national unity.
According to him, this stems from the fact that the country’s history, especially the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, is not thoroughly taught in schools which limits the youth from being knowledgeable about it.
The forum also featured different panel discussions that delved into achievements and challenges to unity and reconciliation among youth and the role of parents in instilling the right mindsets oriented towards building the country in the children, among others.