Paul Kagame's inauguration speech - lessons for African leaders

25Aug 2017
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Paul Kagame's inauguration speech - lessons for African leaders

RWANDA’S  Paul Kagame in his inauguration speech made strong statements about African unity and agency. "The governance and prosperity of Africa cannot be outsourced, " Kagame noted.

We consider his inauguration speech a strong message to African leaders to deliver and honour their election promises.

When Major General Paul Kagame led the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) during a bitter conflict, he took over a country abandoned by the world, fractured and left to bleed. Now as president, Kagame has led Rwanda towards political stability, and the country has recorded positive economic growth. Rwanda recently went to the polls and after a landslide win, Kagame was sworn in as President, a third term endorsed by Rwandans. In his inauguration speech, Kagame took a swipe at French President Emmanuel Macron's controversial civilisation statement and said, "Africa has no civilizational problems, only assets."

In the presence of several heads of states, Kagame's speech was in no way different from the African Union agenda he's been pushing for; a united economically, politically and independent Africa.

In the speech Kagame said, "Every African country has to contend with efforts to force us to live on someone else's terms. They demand that we replace systems that are working well for us with dogmas in which their own people are rapidly losing faith."

President Kagame has been under fire from critics, particularly Western and European media for running for a third term, many of them forcing the definition of western democracy on African countries and arguing that Kagame is an autocratic leader oppressing citizens. In his speech Kagame took a swipe at the criticism and clearly stated, "there is no single model for nation-building."

Kagame's address was reminiscent of speeches made by African leaders during the 60s when the spirit of Pan Africanism was fervent. With emphasis on African unity, it is unfortunate, the AU itself has been unable to play defining roles in various crises in Africa.

Africa's future, many have said is dependent on Africa creating solutions to its own problems. Kagame captured the calls to have homegrown solutions aptly when he said, "The governance and prosperity of Africa cannot be outsourced."

Kagame's inauguration speech could be seen as a call to Africa and its leaders to learn from post-colonial mistakes and forge a new Africa for the future.