President Paul Kagame has said that there might be small countries, but there are no small people. The President was addressing the 45th St. Gallen Symposium Friday 8 May 2015. The symposium brings together leaders of today and tomorrow for discussions on topics including politics and management.
Delivering his keynote address at the symposium, President Kagame emphasized the importance of being defined by one’s action rather than one’s size:
“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.”
In an interview with CCTV Special Contributor, James Chau, following the keynote, the President 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 Africa.”
President Kagame stressed that Africa needs to work together. “We should work 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.”
The President also shared his personal experience which fuelled his motivation to fight for Rwanda’s liberation, and strive to improve Rwandans’ social and economic welfare.
“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.”
Organised by the International Students’ Committee (ISC), the symposium takes place at the University of St. Gallen, a leading business university.