The pioneer students at African Leadership University have graduated and are ready to also join the highly competitive job market.
Before the 38 students received their degrees, President Paul Kagame first engaged them in a comprehensive lecture and later delivered a keynote speech.
In his engagement, Kagame took the students through the experience of a liberation struggle which actually entails dealing with unpredictable situations.
“The stakes are high and you are focused on survival. Government allows time to plan. You have to understand the shift, learn to be patient and know that the approach has to be different.”
Since Kagame has spent much of his life in liberation struggles, his conversation with the students was enriching on this subject.
He reminded the students that an individual mattered a lot in liberation. During struggle worries were how many lives were lost, lack of resources, is there enough food for the soldiers, do we have enough ammunitions; “We got used to this kind of pace and dealing with these details.”
In comparison to how government handles its affairs, Kagame says “you understand that there are certain objectives you have to reach and if you fall short it may delay and the implications will be felt by your citizens and country.”
He cautioned these students who will soon be part of leadership in various aspects that it is good to look at the big picture that builds on certain layers of details they want to achieve. “If you don’t care to go through these details the big picture then remains in name and not deeds.”
The President also emphasized that paying attention to detail was a very important tool in leadership.
“We bring people to have conversations that will make our goal a reality. The resources one holds in their hands will be more productive if we coordinate – that is the essence of the retreat.”
Kagame’s review on accountability gave an insight to these students on why leaders ought to be accountable; “We are driven to achieve, we are looking for solutions and that suggests you want to see a difference and I don’t think you can get to where you want to be without accounting for the process.”
“I also have a responsibility for which I have to be accountable. I cannot sit and wait for things to get done. I am always afraid of saying I don’t know if I am asked what went wrong. We have to be able to explain. That is what urges me to be as detailed.”
Since leadership is not only an office affair, President Kagame also shared on how his family is managed.
For the children, Kagame said their mother and him are constantly having conversation with them about values, culture, and politics.
“We are trying to instill in them being conscious as they grow up. But we are careful to be sure they grow up in their own way.”
The president also emphasized the fact that government must have a direction and purpose of where it wants to be in a given period of time. This compels the entire team to work with commitment and focused on defined goals.
“There is a vision we want to achieve for our nation. Ultimately what you are trying to do is for the people of this country, if you take resources and make them your own, you are not doing the right thing.”
In telling a story about determination during liberation, Kagame shared a grim story of a family that lost three sons in the struggle.
“When news came, the father announced to his son that his brothers had died and sent his last son on the battlefield. This commitment is something you cannot teach anyone.”
He said that there are leaders who are attached to the cause of delivering and others who will choose to say as long as I am ok, everyone will be ok. That is what makes a difference in leadership.
The President closed the conversational lecture warning students not to jump to say it is not possible, or I need to go elsewhere to ask for this. Start by asking is it possible from within you. Do you need it? If you find you need it, find a way to do it and you will see doors opening.