President Paul Kagame accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame, received Saturday an Honorary Doctorate in Law honoris causa from Bahir Dar University in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.
The first to be awarded to a sitting President.
The citation read during the ceremony, commended the President for his active role in stopping the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, leading the transformation of Rwanda and championing women empowerment.
Thanking the university, President Kagame said that the honour reflected the efforts of all Rwandans who have worked together for the last 22 years for liberation and prosperity of the country and thanked the university for this recognition.
“I came of age in a different Africa. Injustice and bad politics prevented many of us from attending university, regardless of merit. Even the right to live, was not always assured. We had no choice but to struggle and fight, to secure the dignity and opportunity, that we now enjoy.”
The President highlighted the power of the youth to drive economic and social transformation.
“Bring your knowledge and logic. Be firm, and if necessary defiant. You have as much stake in this world of ours, as anyone. Take your seat, Africa’s seat, at the table. in every situation, strive to bring people together, never to divide them. We benefit from our diverse ideas and identities, yet within that, there is always a way to build common purpose.”
President Kagame encouraged the students to embrace their role as responsible for shaping Africa’s future.
“It is up to you to build on this foundation, and do even better, for our future. We must never take for granted how far we have come, and how much sacrifice was required. But neither can we be satisfied with mediocrity, or flattered by praise for small ambitions. We live today in a better Africa, than ever before. ”
He pointed out that in order for Africa to prosper, youth need to assume their place at the forefront and work together to transform their continent in order to ensure common prosperity.
President Kagame added that the particular emphasis on the role of women as political, social and economic actors is a very key component in the development of Rwanda. Adding that many kinds of freedoms that we now enjoy, came as a result of past sacrifices.
Presenting the President with the doctorate were President Dr. Mulatu Teshome, President of the Federal Democratic of Ethiopia and Dr Baylie Damtie, President of Bahir Dar University.
In his opening remarks, President Teshome thanked the University for this important recognition of President Kagame’s achievements.
“It is an honor for us to have President Kagame grace this graduation. A continued testament of our close relations, his presence marks this day as different & unique day here in Bahir Dar. On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Ethiopia, I would like to thank the University for presenting this degree to President Kagame. ”
Bahir Dar University was established in 1963 and is currently among the largest of the 32 Universities in Ethiopia. It has 8 Campuses and is currently home to over 50,000 students.
The University hosts one graduation ceremony each year during which occasionally, a special African leader is recognized, and celebrated, since the Award was put in place in 2012.