About President Paul Kagame
President Paul Kagame was born in Rwanda in 1957. At that time Rwanda was a colony of Belgium. With the pullout of the Belgians in 1961, ethic violence erupted. When President Kagame was four years old he left with his family to find refuge in Uganda. Raised in Uganda, he joined Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Army, which successfully overthrew the brutal dictatorship of Idi Amin.
When the genocide began in Rwanda, President Kagame was in the United States on a military training program. He flew to Uganda where he assembled a group of soldiers which became known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). When it was clear that the international community would not assist the Rwandans in stopping the genocide, President Kagame walked with his troops from Uganda to stop the killing. He and his soldiers defeated the rebels and took over the country.
For the past ten years he has worked to rebuild his country-with remarkable success. One of the major accomplishments was to establish a constitutional committee that wrote a new constitution for Rwanda. In 2000 he was unanimously elected President of the Republic of Rwanda by the Transitional National Assembly. On 25th August 2003, he won a landslide victory in the first ever democratically contested multiparty elections. That same year he was also elected First Vice President of the African Union.
On the tenth anniversary of the genocide, he made this memorable comment”
I start where we must all start, by paying tribute to them (Rwanda’s genocide victims) not as statistics, not as a nameless, faceless, anonymous mass of humanity but as our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and our children. They all should have been a part of our future, not our past
President Kagame led the effort to assist survivors, AIDS victims and children, and establish a sustainable economic base for the country. He leads a country that has more women in Parliament than any other country in the world. His honorary degree citation, remarked on that as well as his many other accomplishments:
Pacific honors President Paul Kagame. You are rebuilding your country and offering hope and a future to all Rwandans. Under your leadership Rwandans have written a constitution, and are meting out justice to the perpetrators of the genocide. You lead a country that has more women in Parliament than any country in the world. Under your leadership, education is free for all children and you are working hard to reduce the scourge of AIDS. While the world turned a blind eye you and your troops stopped one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. You are a courageous leader who has challenged the United Nations, Europe and the United States for not responding to the genocide. You are presiding over the world’s greatest experiment in reconciliation—the “gacaca” process of justice with hope. As Vice-President of the African Union, you are showing the world that Africans are in charge of responding to the challenges on the continent. You are the leader of a new generation of African presidents dedicated to poverty reduction, human development and female empowerment. Your disciplined leadership and nation building has earned the world’s admiration.
The University of the Pacific hails you, President Kagame, as we present you with the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa