Every night we see the infomercials, you know the ones I am talking about, tragic music in the background playing while small Ethiopian children who are clearly starving are shown. We hear about AIDS, about terrorism and genocide. But is there hope for Rwanda? Is there a shining example of leadership and promise in Africa?
Absolutely. His name is Paul Kagame and he is the President of Rwanda.
Kagame rose to the presidency in a very untraditional way. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Kagame led the opposition and was crucial in ending the massacre while the rest of the world did nothing. In 2000 he was elected President and that is where he showed what a true leader looks like in Africa.
So what does Paul Kagame do that is so different from the traditional model of African leadership?
For starters, he cares less about maintaining government control or building multi million dollar palaces but about promoting international business networks and empowering his people for generations to come.
“In Africa today, we recognize that trade and investment, and not aid, are pillars of development,” Kagame said.
Not only is Kagame promoting better trade and business in his country, he is also taking a forefront in solving disputes amongst African nations while building partnerships to promote economic growth in Africa.
He wants these partnerships to be based on, “mutual respect, trust and a collaborative outlook.” This is quite different from past African leaders who simply demanded more aid money from nations who wanted to help.
“This is the time to embrace true multilateralism,” Kagame said. “All nations should be part of these important discussions, because they have valuable contributions to make.”
As a result of the genocide, hundreds of thousands of Rwandese were accused of murder. One of President Kagame’s first orders of business in Rwanda was the abolishment of the death penalty in favor of community trials that promote reconciliation and use community service as punishments.
The Rwandan government under Kagame has stressed that it is to play a key role in preventing future genocide in Africa and are one of the major contributors of African peacekeeping forces in Darfur.
Kagame is the type of leader Africa has been in need of for decades.
He is not self-centered, not focused on personal gain or power. Rather, he wants to empower his people and the whole continent of Africa to take ownership of their issues and rise above them.
The promise of Kagame is the promise of a hopeful future for Africa. Under his example, the continent could move from a charity case to an empowered community with thriving economies that take care of their problems.
Kagame stresses that people in his country as well as the world need to take ownership for their problems, maybe following his example we will see a positive change in Africa.