Posts tagged as: kagame

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Africa: Africa’s Economic Growth Relies on Aids-Free Generation, Says First Lady

By Athan Tashobya

An HIV/AIDS-free Africa will go a long way in ensuring that the continent achieves accelerated economic growth and transformation, First Lady Jeannette Kagame has said.

Mrs Kagame, who was addressing the organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) on the margins of the 72nd UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, said that for a continent that strongly believes in the role of the youth in shaping its future should do all it can to focus on their health and education for empowerment.

The conversation was themed: “Implementing the AU roadmap to Harness the Demographic Dividend in Africa: Ending AIDS by 2030.”

“Our ability to harness the demographic dividend of our continent heavily relies on the health, and wellbeing of our young people, and so we must strengthen all the actors of our health system, to realise the goal of ‘Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free’ by the year 2020,” Mrs Kagame said.

“So let us all further invest in our youth, by first protecting their rights to access good healthcare and education, so they can concentrate on maximising their opportunities for a brighter future.”

While exploring Rwanda’s journey to achieving the ambitious 90-90-90 targets by 2020, the First Lady said that Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV services were fully available in 96 per cent of public health facilities in Rwanda, allowing a total of 343,438 pregnant women to get tested for HIV, as of this year.

Among these women, 0.7 per cent were tested HIV positive, a decrease from 0.9 per cent recorded in the previous year.

The 90-90-90 programme aims at having, by 2020, 90 per cent of people living with HIV knowing their status; 90 per cent of people with diagnosed HIV receiving sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy having viral suppression.

To optimise family engagement in PMTCT services, Mrs Kagame said that couple HIV counselling, and testing, in antenatal care setting has been promoted and the practice has seen 84.9 per cent of males attending antenatal care services, together with their wives, and getting tested for HIV in the context of PMTCT between July 2016 and June 2017.

“As a nation that believes in the lasting impact of empowering the youth, we can’t afford to become complacent,” she said.

Reinforcing concerted efforts

The First Lady also talked of the need to continue to reinforce the concerted efforts between all stakeholders in the healthcare chain: from universal healthcare coverage, decentralised access to care, and network of 45,000 trained community healthcare workers, to a health information system allowing the monitoring of data nationwide, to further build on current status of 87-89-93 on the 90-90-90 goal, in the fight against the HIV/AIDS virus.

She called on her counterparts from Africa to stay “firmly grounded” in their commitment to give African youth “a strong health system and not hinder their abilities, to go beyond the great expectations we have for them, and for our continent.”

Meanwhile, Mrs Kagame also joined the International Trade Centre’s discussion on “SheTrades,” a session held under the theme, “Empowering Women in World Trade.”

She said the role of women in trade remains “largely undefined and marginalised,” hence the need to promote any initiatives that are women-owned “because they hold the potential to positively impact the lives of not just women, but entire communities as research has proven time and again.”

Africa: Africa Will Become the Food Basket of the World — Dangote

Photo: allafrica.com

Aliko Dangote is putting billions into the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

In a packed room at the headquarters of global law firm Shearman and Sterling LLC high level business leaders and international diplomats invited by the Corporate Council for Africa to hear Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and Rwandan president Paul Kagame openly converse on Africa’s opportunities and challenges.

Both leaders underscored the ongoing movement to diversify African economies. In the case of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, Dangote stated “we should pray that oil prices remain low. This helps wean us off the dependency on revenues from petroleum. We must take oil to be the icing on the cake. We already have the cake,” he added.

In addition to agriculture Dangote cited Nigeria’s vast mineral resources and gas as well and the need to manufacture more goods locally for domestic consumption. Both he and President Kagame cited continued need for heavy investments in education and connected the need for young people to be well trained for the jobs of tomorrow.

Dangote predicted that “five of the twelve million jobs needed in Africa soon must be created in Nigeria.”

Dangote’s fortune which stems from cement, sugar, and other household commodities has expanded into fertilizer and other processed high-value goods. “Technology of course helps us a lot and our factories are state of the art with the use of robotics but we shouldn’t be overly tech oriented to create wealth,” he told investors.

Mr. Dangote who is often cited as one of the most inspiring business leaders in the world today and a model for young entrepreneurs offered advice to Americans who tend to rely on outdated news and wrong perceptions of Africa, “Don’t be lazy. Go there and find the real story for yourself. Things have changed.”

Dangote noted the Rwanda success story where he has business interests as an example of positive change, good governance and leadership, and where corruption has been cured. He cited a personal experience of offering a $100 US tip for services at the Kigali Airport to staff who refused to take money for work they were paid to do. President Kagame was praised for delivering the environment for growth he promised. “There is nothing African about corruption,” the Rwandan president added.

The session was moderated by Rosa Whitaker, former US Trade Representative and author of the AGOA (African Growth Opportunity Act), whose business consultancy is credited for helping both African governments and US companies develop commerce.

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First Lady Jeannette Kagame Calls for an End to Extremism

By Athan Tashobya

First Lady Jeannette Kagame has said that the world is in need for peace, which is why stakeholders should do everything within their capacities to put an end to extremism and violence faced around the world.

Mrs Kagame was speaking at the Global Hope Coalition event, held on the margins of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Monday.

The event was held under the auspices of Global Hope Coalition-an international initiative providing a global platform to bolster the civil society campaign to fight violent extremism and intolerance and preservation of cultural heritage-on the topic: Women, Children and Trauma of Extremism.

This event was attended by First Lady Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of Mali Keita Aminata Maiga, as well as Director General of UNESCO – Irina Bokova, among many other participants.

“Our world is in desperate need of giving the right attention to extremism, as demonstrated by the violence, near and far from our homes,” the First Lady said.

She shared Rwanda’s history, adding light to the situation Rwanda faced in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, where over a million innocent lives were lost, while those that survived were left were left facing many traumas.

Thousands of women were raped and deliberately infected with HIV/AIDS needless to mention thousands of widows, orphans left behind and millions who fled to neighbouring countries, she said. This post-1994 era also saw a strong and defiant survival instinct contribute to the healing of our nation, the First Lady remarked.

“After the Genocide, we had to devise sound strategies, to help us all regain dignity and strength, and make ‘Never Again’ a reality,” Mrs Kagame added.

The First Lady of Mali, Mrs Keita Aminata Maiga, shared her country’s experience following the recent terrorist attacks noting that these have greatly affected education of the girl-child as well as hurting tourism to the country’s world cultural heritage sites.

Irina Bokova , the Director General of UNESCO and Honorary President of Global Hope Coalition said that women and children are shouldering the heaviest of burdens of extremism and violence around the world, hence the need to fight for the “dignity” of these groups.

“Extremists hurt us at the very core of our identity,” Bokova said.

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Presidents Who Amended Constitution to Stay in Power

By Isaac Mufumba

On Tuesday September 12, NRM legislators set into motion the wheels that will lead to the amendment of Article 102(b) of the Constitution to scrap the presidential age limit.

If successful, the move will enable President Museveni, who will be 77 years in 2021 when the next general election is due, two years above the current age limit of 75 years for a sitting President, to contest again if he wishes.

There is no record of any African president who opted not to take advantage of a constitutional amendment to cling to power.

Mr Museveni has already partaken of the benefits of two decisions by Parliament. First was the October 1989 decision by the then Parliament, the National Resistance Council, to extend the NRM’s period of interim rule from four to 10 years. The second was the 2005 constitution amendment that led to the lifting of presidential term limits.

Nevertheless, should the legislators succeed in lifting the age limit as well, and Museveni who should have by now been a dozen years into his retirement opts not to cash in on it, he will have become the first African leader to opt not to extend his rule even when granted with the opportunity to do so on a silver platter.

As for now he is part of a club of several African leaders who have followed the noises of the songbirds in their own parties and tweaked the constitutions of their respective countries in order to extend their rule, but who are the others?

Sam Nujoma, Namibia

A former apartheid era revolutionary who rose to the leadership of the South West African People’s Organization (Swapo), Nujoma took the lead in the “fight” for Namibia’s independence.

Mr Nujoma, who took office on the day of Namibia’s independence on March 21, 1990, presided over a constitution-making process that introduced multiparty democracy and presidential term limits that restricted a president to two terms in office.

He led Swapo to two victories, but soon found himself caught between his own ambitions and the desires of weaver birds within the ruling party, both of which required him to contest one more time under a special arrangement, which allowed him to do so without causing an amendment to the constitution.

Paul Kagame, Rwanda

A former spy chief with Uganda’s Directorate of Military Intelligence, Mr Paul Kagame abandoned a military course in the United States and returned to Rwanda to lead the Rwanda Patriotic Front force to power in Kigali.

Mr Kagame, who first worked as Rwanda’s defence minister and vice president, became president in 2000, but it was not until 2003 that he was officially elected into office after a new constitution had been promulgated.

The constitution provided for a limit of two seven-year terms. Following his re-election in 2010, he was due to have left office this year, but Rwandans voting in a December 2015 referendum approved several constitutional amendments, which allowed him to contest and get another seven-year term which began last month.

The amendment provided for a reduction in the presidential term of office from seven to five years, but abolished term limits, making it possible for Kagame, 59, to stay on possibly until 2034.

Sassou Nguesso, Republic Of Congo

Denis Sassou Nguesso, 74, who has been at the helm of the Republic of Congo for 31 years, first rose to power on February 8, 1979, when the Military Committee of the Party (CMP) of the Congolese Party of Labour (PCT) forced Col Joachim Yhombi-Opango out of power amid accusation of corruption in the tiny oil producing nation.

He was forced to introduce multiparty democracy in 1990 and suffered defeat in the first elections held in 1992, dropping out in the first round of voting after registering only 17 per cent of the vote.

That left the race to Pascal Lissouba of the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy and Bernard Kolelas of the Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development. Lissouba was to later win.

Following the outbreak of a civil war in the period between 1993 and 1994, Sassou Nguesso fled to France, but returned to the country in 1997 to contest in the next general election, but violence broke out leading to a civil war which ended in 1999 when his militia, the Cobras, with the aid of Angolan troops, ousted Pascal Lissouba and swore him in on October 25, 1999.

In January 2002, a new constitution which gave the president more executive power and also extended presidential term limits from five to seven years was promulgated. He won the two elections that followed, albeit amidst controversy.

An October 25, 2015, referendum led to the scrapping of the 70-year age limit and allowed him to contest for third seven-year term. The 74-year-old was re-elected in a violence marred general election held on March 20, 2016.

Paul Biya, Cameroon

In Cameroon, president Paul Biya came to power in 1982 in the wake of the impromptu resignation of president Ahmadou Ahidjo.

Mr Biya, who had been leader of the ruling Cameroon National Union Party since 1983, was elected for a second term in office in 1988.

Following the introduction of political pluralism, he won the first pluralist vote which was held in 1992.

In 1996, the parliament adopted a new constitution which provided for a maximum of two seven-year terms for a president. He contested and won elections in 1997 and 2004. He was meant to have left office in 2011, but the constitution was amended in April 2008 and the term limits were scrapped. He subsequently stood and won the October 2011 election.

Obiang-Nguema, Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea’s president Teodoro Obiang-Nguema rose to power in August 1979 after deposing his uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema.

He ruled the country as a military ruler until 1982 when he transitioned to civilian rule and also introduced a new constitution which set a presidential term at seven years, but never put a cap on the number of times one can contest for the presidency.

He was the only candidate in that first election held in 1982, and he has always been the “sole candidate” of his party the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea in all the four general elections which the party has won with landslide victories, the smallest of which, 93.7 per cent of the vote, was registered in last year’s polls.

There have been five other general elections since the one of 1982 and the next election is due in 2022. He is expected to contest following the November 2011 referendum that allowed amendment of the constitution to scrap presidential age limits.

The amendment also led to the creation of the office of vice president and gave the president power to appoint such a person. He has since appointed his son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang to the position of vice president in charge of defence and security.

Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Angola

Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, who led Angola for 37 years until last month, became president on September 21, 1979, after the death of Angola’s first president, Agostinho Neto, on September 10, 1979.

Dos Santos failed to get an absolute majority in the 1992 elections that were called after a truce had been reached between his People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the rebel National Union for the Total Integration of Angola (UNITA).

A second round vote did not materialise following an outbreak of violence which later escalated into a full scale civil war, in which UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was killed in February 2002, paving way for peace talks and the demobilisation of UNITA fighters.

In 2001, he announced that he would step down at the next general elections which had first been announced for 2006, then 2007 and lastly 2009, but clung on. In 2010 a new constitution which made the leader of the party with a majority in parliament the president was introduced so he stayed on as president after the MPLA won majority seats during the 2012 polls.

Dos Santos was to later announce that he would not seek re-election during last month’s general elections. He has since been succeeded by his former defence minister, Mr Joao Lourenco.

Former Presidential Hopeful Rwigara Re-Arrested

Former Rwandan presidential hopeful accused of forgery, tax evasion

Rwandan police on Sept.04 arrested Diane Shima Rwigara, a leading critic of President Paul Kagame, charging her with forgery and tax evasion.

Her mother and sister were also arrested on the tax charges.

Earlier this year, electoral authorities barred Rwigara from standing in August’s presidential vote, which Kagame won, saying she had not submitted enough supporters’ signatures and some of the names she did sent in belonged to dead people.

Rwigara denied the allegations.

“They are accused of tax evasion and secondly Diane Rwigara is accused of using fake documents while she was gathering signatures for (her) presidential candidacy,” police spokesman Theos Badege told reporters on Sept.01.

Police said they had a warrant issued by a prosecutor to arrest them.

Rwigara, a 35-year-old accountant, has repeatedly accused Kagame of stifling dissent and criticised his Rwandan Patriotic Front’s near total hold on power. Kagame won last month’s election with 98.8 percent of the vote.

Rwigara claimed she was being held under house arrest before Monday’s police action.

“Tell us why we are being arrested? Why should we go to the police while you have confined us to this place and took away all our money without leaving us any?” Rwigara said as she and her family was being taken away.

Asked about this, Badege, the police spokesman, said that earlier police had only searched Rwigara’s home and taken a few items and money away in line with the law.

It was a clear application of the law,” Badege said.

Rwigara was disqualified as a candidate after allegedly failing to collect enough supporting signatures ahead of the election. According to electoral laws, independent presidential candidates are required to present 600 signatures, with at least 12 from each of Rwanda’s 30 districts, in order to run for president.

Rwigara allegedly turned in signatures of some people who had been long dead and others who belonged to a rival political party, according to Rwanda’s electoral commission.

Rwigara is the daughter of the late Assinapol Rwigara, a tycoon who fell out with Kagame before his death in a car accident in 2015.

Kagame won international praise for presiding over a peaceful and rapid economic recovery in Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, when an estimated 800,000 people Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

But he has also faced increased criticism for what human rights groups say are widespread abuses, a muzzling of independent media, and suppression of political opposition.

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Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy – Kagame

By James Karuhanga

President Paul Kagame has reiterated his call to Rwandans, young and old, to work harder and ensure the nation’s achievements in the past two decades are safeguarded and progress maintained.

During a thanksgiving National Prayer Breakfast themed “Instilling Godly Values In Leadership” held at the Kigali Convention Centre, the President particularly reminded those present that success cannot be attained without dedication to the job.

Bringing to mind how the country sank to its lowest during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Kagame emphasised that Rwandans have a responsibility to ensure that the nation never moves backwards.

“We are the ones to carry on with this journey [of nation building], be it the old or the young. Nothing worth having comes easily. It is our responsibility to give the best we can to this nation,” Kagame said.

In the past two decades, the country under the leadership of Kagame rose from ashes to reach heights many would not have imagined possible after the devastation it suffered during the Genocide.

Among others, post-Genocide Rwanda has not only improved life expectancy from 51 years, in 2000, to 65 years in 2012, but was last year listed by the World Bank as the second easiest Place to Do Business on the continent.

In 2015, the Gallup Global Emotions Report ranked Rwanda as the safest place to walk at night in Africa, and fifth globally.

That same year, the UN Human Development Index ranked Rwanda as the world’s fastest developing country. The country is also ranked as the fourth least corrupt country in Africa, and 44th globally, in the Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International.

The event, organised by the Rwanda Leaders’ Fellowship (RLF), is a prayer meeting that brings together leaders in top positions for fellowship aimed at praying for the national leaders and the nation at large. It usually happens once, early in the year.

According to RLF chairperson Eric Munyemana, Sunday’s event, the second this year after the one held in January, was especially for the nation to thank God for the recently concluded peaceful and successful national election in which Rwandans gave President Kagame another seven-year mandate to carry forward the country’s development agenda.

Initiated in 1995, the RLF is attended by cabinet members, lawmakers, members of the judiciary, police and military top brass, private sector and civil society, including church leaders.

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Pope Francis Gift Symbolises ‘Dark to Success Journey’ – Kagame

By Peter Mugabo

When President Kagame visited the Vatican City in March this year on invitation by Pope Francis, he was presented with a gift.

For President Kagame, the Pope’s gift was a similar sign of the tragedy Rwanda went through and where it is heading today.

“The gift was a designed photo which the Pope said symbolized a journey Rwanda has moved from darkness to a successful end,” President Paul Kagame told religious leaders and government officials at the National Prayer Breakfast on Sunday.

One of the cultural beliefs in Rwanda is that ‘God spends the day elsewhere and comes home to Rwanda’.

However, according to President Kagame, during the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, “Humans became unrecognizable. The tragedy turned the country into one that even God did not want to associate with.”

The President told participants gathered at Radisson Blu and Convention Centre in Kigali that Rwanda was dragged into a horrific genocide due to bad leadership, but has rejuvenated and will never be the one God does not want to be part of ever again.

“Today, God is back to spending the day elsewhere and coming back home to Rwanda. This country sank so low, the only way forward is to go up and transform this country,” the President said.

“What happened in this nation will never happen again,” he added.

Lambert Bariho, one of the key speakers at the breakfast related President Kagame to King David of Israel who turned his people torn-apart into a united and civilised Israel.

At the age of 40, the biblical King David of Israel was known for his diverse skills as both a warrior and a writer of psalms. King David is biblically known for uniting the people of Israel, led them to victory in battle, conquered land and paved way for his predecessors, Solomon and today today, Israel stands as a global icon.

In similar circumstance, in 1994, Bariho said, Rwandans almost lost their country as over 1 million people died during the 100-day Genocide against Tutsi, but today, God has given Rwandans someone similar to ‘King David’.

Today, he told the gathering that Rwanda has achieved a lot worth to be thankful for.

“Rwandans have countless things to be thankful for. We have regained peace and stability, justice has prevailed… health sector has been revamped… to mention but a few,” Bariho said.While religious leaders praised Kagame’s leadership in transforming the country, the President, reminded them that; “Leadership will not be given to you for free. You have to work for it to deserve it.”

According to President Kagame, “Education gives you knowledge but using this knowledge appropriately is an individual choice you have to make. To grow towards taking responsibilities, you have to work. Be

willing to work hard not being contented with others doing the work.”

This year’s National Prayer Breakfast marked 22nd anniversary since the annual program was launched in 1995.

The National Leadership Prayer Breakfast brings together religious leaders, government officials and members of the Private Sector to thank God for what was achieved in the past year, and pray for blessings in the New Year.

Today’s event was wholly organized and dedicated to the just concluded peaceful and well organized Presidential elections.

SOURCE: KTPress

Attacks on Kagame – When Repetition Doesn’t Make Perfect

opinionBy Joseph Rwagatare

Why do some people keep doing the same thing and getting the same wrong results? It is baffling, yet it happens quite often.

Any intelligent person will realise that something isn’t quite right and change course.

The foolish will go on doing the same thing, expecting different results.

Some, not quite foolish, but convinced that the rest of us are, will keep repeating the same stupid thing thinking that we will eventually believe that it is right.

In Rwanda we have experienced this sort of futile repetition. There are people outside this country who have made it their mission to misrepresent everything that happens here.

They are a diverse lot, mainly those who pass as experts on Rwanda, some in the media and human rights organisations, united by a particular animosity towards President Paul Kagame. A few Africans who crave western recognition also join the hatred bandwagon.

The hatred blinds them to anything good that he has done or is capable of doing. They are so obsessed with him that they probably see him in their dreams and curse the day they saw him.

That would be fine if it was only in dreams. But it is not; it is real. For more than two decades they have vilified and demonised him and done everything possible to unseat him and derail Rwanda’s progress. In all that time they have repeated the same thing, but each time with similar results.

I think all the things they accuse him of are actually a projection of what they would do if they were in his place. For some of them it is a refusal to accept failure. It is hard to admit that he has achieved what their protégés were unable to do under their tutelage.

And so they loathe him and have such contempt for Rwandans that they are prepared to propose any alternatives to him. Problem is, they have always selected the wrong sort for this. These can be classified into two broad categories.

First, there are the nonentities who are quickly elevated to some lofty position and baptised as “strong critics” of Kagame, his “fiercest rivals”, the “most credible opposition to his authoritarian rule”, and many other names..

Seven years ago, there were several of these, the ones they anointed being Bernard Ntaganda and Frank Habineza.

The majority of Rwandans had never heard of Ntaganda. They began to notice him when his name began to appear in foreign media. He was soon adopted by the habitual Kagame and Rwanda bashers as their standard bearer to challenge President Kagame.

There was also Frank Habineza, leader of a Green Party with no known green agenda. He was touted as the “biggest threat” to President Kagame’s hold on power, and for evidence they pointed to the fact that his party had been denied registration.

These, however, were soon forgotten. Ntaganda’s rabble-rousing antics were exposed as just that. Habineza lost his fierce critic credentials because his political party was eventually registered and he was able to challenge in the presidential election. Apparently qualification for being labelled strong and credible opposition is restricted to those outside Rwanda’s formal political structures.

The second category adopted by the missionaries of hate includes criminals and traitors. They are then presented to the world as the genuine opposition and the true voice of Rwandans that has been silenced.

Again, seven years ago, one of these was a one Victoire Ingabire, a person with an extremist agenda and close connections to genocidaires, and intent on resurrecting destructive divisions in the country.

She was cheered on by the all-knowing foreign media, holier-than-thou human rights organisation and so-called experts on Rwanda as the country’s “main opposition leader” and President Kagame’s “principal opponent” in that year’s presidential election. Her only qualification to this high position was her invective against the president and the government of Rwanda.

The same year, there was the Kayumba Nyamwasa led group of fugitives from justice and agents of foreign powers. These too were presented as the real opposition in Rwanda. Their only claim to this level was their escape from justice and murder of innocent Rwandans going about their normal business.

This year, another individual was adopted and added to this category. In fact, she cuts across the two categories. A one Diane Rwigara is an unknown, badly behaved and angry young woman, and a crooked accountant in the bargain.

This is the person, with such severe limitations, that the know-all groups think should rule over these hapless Rwandans.

In all these cases, they have elevated these so-called opposition politicians from obscurity to such dizzying heights that inevitably they must lose balance and fall. And you can’t blame President Kagame and Rwandans for this.

We go back to the question we started with: why do these people repeat efforts that yield nothing? Why don’t they give up when they realise the futility of their work?

It would be fine if it was only because it pleases them to do the same thing and end up with the same failure. Problem is, they are doing this to Rwandans, and it is an insult to them and their leaders.

Still, one expects them to to have some decency and end their futile attempts. But, of course, they won’t, and in the meantime President Kagame and Rwandans will march on.

Kwita Izina – Humans Should Learn From Gorillas

opinionBy Kenneth Agutamba

There is a human in gorillas just as there is a gorilla in humans. So we are gorillas and gorillas are humans; welcome back from this year’s Kwita Izina, a baby naming ceremony for Rwanda’s mountain gorillas and among the world’s noblest acts by human beings for nature.

Friday’s Kwita Izina for gorillas was the 13th edition since the practice was adopted from a centuries’ old Rwandan tradition of giving a name to new born babies.

It is a celebration of wildlife which has since grown in prominence, now attracting international celebrities and global influencers who travel to Rwanda every year to participate, witness and support one of the world’s most successful conservation efforts we have today.

This celebration has helped direct international attention to the need of conserving the gorillas which were threatened by extinction at the hands of hostile human acts. Thanks to Kwita Izina, humans have since moved from gorilla persecutors to their protectors.

As a result, some 216 baby gorillas had been named in twelve editions; Friday’s edition made it 235 after the nineteen babies were named; the turnaround in human attitude towards gorillas has generated positive benefits for both government and communities around the parks.

“In protecting gorillas, we have everything to gain,” President Paul Kagame told participants at the 13th Kwita Izina ceremony held Friday in Kinigi sector, Musanze Sistrict.

That’s true. Rwanda earned over US$400 million from tourism, last year, of which gorilla trekking is the primary cash cow, helping the nation to balance its payment receipts in international trade, hence shouldering the Rwandan currency from exchange pressure.

Out of US$400million earned by government last year, US$2million (equivalent to 5 percent) was invested in community development oriented projects through revenue sharing schemes.

These sharing schemes have financed over 600 local projects, supporting livelihoods through generating incomes for those involved something which has taught locals that, instead of killing the beasts, they could protect them and earn from doing so.

It was the best strategy government could deploy in recruiting local communities to support conservation efforts; government could have chosen to deploy armed guards to protect wildlife but such an effort is unsustainable.

If Kwita Izina is a success today as many would agree, it is because, it is a conversation on conservation in which local communities have been invited to actively participate hence cultivating a sense of shared ownership and responsibility over the country’s nature.

Clare Akamanzi, Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board whose Tourism unit is at the forefront of moderating the conversation on conservation, believes that the shared responsibility with locals will see continued community growth as tourism earnings surge.

As we humans celebrate the life of new born gorillas, we should also learn something from their lifestyle. For instance, gorillas live in groups consisting of about 25 to 35 members; usually, there is one leading male (silverback), accompanied by several females with their young ones.

Compare that to humans of today; family values are at their lowest in many countries as men are afraid of being silverbacks hence the ever growing story of single mothers fending for children in the absence of their fathers who couldn’t face the responsibilities of being husbands.

The growing number of abandoned kids, who call the streets home, is in stark contrast to how mountain gorillas look out for their kids and make sure they’re protected until such a time when they’re old enough to form a family of their own.

At the Kwita Izina ceremony, President Kagame shared an experience of his encounter with mountain gorillas fourteen years ago while trekking into the Virunga national park.

“… There was a baby gorilla, a year or less old. So the baby screamed. I don’t know what had happed to it. A bigger gorilla, maybe its father, came charging at us, in protection of its baby,” Kagame recollected.

It is the guide that saved Kagame and his friend with whom they were trekking. “Humble yourselves, squat and don’t even look in the eye of the charging gorilla.” They did and escaped unhurt. Like the protective silverbacks, fathers must be protective of their families and African Presidents must be protective and guard their countries’ values from international bullies.

The Kenyan Supreme court on Friday annulled the Presidential election whose result had given President Uhuru Kenyatta victory. As the country prepares for a fresh election in 60-days’ time, Kenyans must look at themselves as members of one gorilla family.

Although it is always that there is one silverback in each family, it is a common tendency among mountain gorillas to have several adult males in a family. In this particular Kenyan gorilla family, there are two silverbacks each seeking to lead the pack.

As members of that family, Kenyan voters shall decide which of the two silverbacks (Uhuru vs. Raila) they want to lead them. We, as members of other gorilla families in East Africa, pray that Kenyans stay united and peaceful regardless of which silverback is chosen to lead their family.

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