President Kagame last week addressed the 45th St. Gallen Symposium themed Proudly Small.
Held in Switzerland, the symposium brings together leaders of today and tomorrow for discussions on topics including politics and management.
Delivering the symposium keynote address, President Kagame emphasized the importance of being defined by one’s action rather than one’s size:
“There are small countries, but there are no small peoples. Thinking big and acting big are choices available to all of us. Size is not destiny.”
“Greatness is a choice available to any person, organisation, or nation. Big countries are capable of thinking small and acting small. Small countries can think big and act big, which is to say: with dignity and respect for others,” he added.
Interviewed by James Chau, CCTV Special Contributor for an interactive session following the keynote, President Kagame also addressed the need for Africans to regain their dignity:
“I don’t believe there are people who should take good living standards for granted and the rest should forget about it. I want to think that irrespective of challenges we live through, there are so many opportunities in Rwanda and Africa.”
“Africa needs to work together, faster and more effectively and get ourselves out of this position where we are victims and people have to exercise their generosity and sympathy over us or fight over us. We need to be participants in this world and raise ourselves to the standard where we can develop our continent and our own countries,” President Kagame added.
President Kagame also shared the personal experience that fueled his motivation to fight for Rwanda’s liberation:
“I grew up in a refugee camp for 25 years, lining up for one meal a day, studying under trees. When I was 11, I asked my father what he had done for us to be in a refugee camp. The fact is he had done nothing wrong.
“Since we were not crushed physically, we were able to mentally build capacity to fight back and say we can’t accept this,” he added
On the turmoil currently unfolding across the world, President Kagame recognized the legitimacy of demands by youth but also called on youth taking responsibility for their future:
“Young people making all kinds of demands is within their right. But the demands young people rightly make should be accompanied by responsibility they should assume for themselves.”
The Symposium takes place at the University of St. Gallen, a leading business university and is organised by the International Students’ Committee (ISC).