By Germain Mucyo

More than 7,000 Rwandans, including President Paul Kagame, gathered to network and reflect on Rwanda’s development at the 11th iteration of Rwanda Day, held in Washington, D.C., on February 2 and 3. The event returned after a temporary hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame
Photo Rwanda Government.

“You can leave Rwanda and go wherever you want to go, but Rwanda should not leave you.”

President Kagame 

Kagame’s keynote address emphasized connection to Rwanda, saying the purpose of Rwanda Day is to make sure that every Rwandan outside of the country is connected with their home. “You can leave Rwanda and go wherever you want to go, but Rwanda should not leave you,” he said. 

This year’s gathering showcased discussions on the country’s socio-economic progress, regional stability, and international partnerships. Attendees engaged with the President and other government officials and business leaders, celebrated Rwanda’s artists, and fostered new connections. 

The two-day event also served as a platform for attendees from Rwanda and members of the diaspora to explore exhibits and meet Rwandan representatives from various sectors, including private companies and government agencies. Emery Karangwa, Infrastructure Planning Senior Engineer at Rwanda’s National Land Authority (NLA), told Amjambo that Rwanda Day was an opportunity to connect with the diaspora about NLA’s land administration and land use management program. Anne Christine Ishimwe, Head of Sales and Marketing at Kinazi Cassava Plant, said she used the occasion to meet distributors across the U.S. and Canada, and introduce promotional products to new buyers. Claude Ngoboka, a well-known U.S.-based Rwandan journalist, touted the connections and dialogue among members of the diaspora toward Rwanda’s development.

National Land Authority (NLA) exhibition stand,
Emery Karangwa on the right | Photo Rwanda Government

Panel discussions and keynote speeches addressed topics from “Business and Careers between the Diaspora and Rwanda,” to “Economic Development through Sports and Entertainment.” Pascal Murasira of Norrsken Foundation said, “Many investors all around the world are moving their activities to Rwanda. I encourage Rwanda’s diaspora community to invest in Rwanda.” 

In 2023, Rwanda generated a record $91 million from 157 summits and events held there, including the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2022, FIFA Congress (the international soccer governing body), and the Women Deliver Conference, attracting over 67,000 delegates. 

Highlighting the sports sector’s significance as a major source of employment, NBA Africa CEO Claire Akamanzi said, “When a country invests in a very bold way, it opens opportunities that you never have thought of, and it is the people that benefit.” 

Eugene Ubalijoro, Bruce Mélodie, and Claire Akamanzi | Photo Rwanda Government

Rwanda Day featured performances from some of Rwanda’s most renowned artists, including Ruti Joel, Bruce Mélodie, and Teta Diana. The Ben performed “Ni Forever,” “Habibi,” “Lose Control,” and others. Celebrated singer Bruce Melodie praised Kagame’s “visionary leadership” for elevating Rwanda’s entertainment industry. 

Bruce Mélodie|Photo Rwanda Government
Teta Diana | Photo Rwanda Government.
Ruti Joel | Photo Rwanda Government.

Dushime Innocent, who is known as DJ Innox and lives and works in Maine, helped organize the music, and said, “I would say this Rwanda Day was so special because the numbers were so high – it was unbelievable!” 

The event encouraged attendees, who came from Canada, various European countries, Rwanda, and the U.S., to reconnect with their roots, forge new connections, and gain valuable insights into Rwanda’s progress and development. 

First Lady Jeannette Kagame (On Right) | Photo by Rwanda Government

A 34-year resident of Canada, Irembo Chairman Achille Ubalijoro expressed gratitude for the opportunity to gather feedback about Irembo, the leading digital platform for public services in Rwanda. 

Wilson Misago, CEO of Rwanda’s Zacu Entertainment, praised the opportunity to further the reach of the popular producer and content distributor by connecting with Zacu users,

Rwandans living in Washington, D.C., organized additional gatherings. Shax Media founder Innocent Shyaka held a satellite event focused on fostering a network for young entrepreneurs, helping Rwandan youth connect, share ideas, and explore opportunities for entrepreneurial collaboration and growth. 

Event breakout podcast| Photo Shax Media
Shyaka Innocent | Photo Shax Media
Young Entrepreneurs Networking Session

Rwanda Day coincided with the celebration of 30 years of liberation from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. President Paul Kagame said the journey had been difficult but important. “We have survived, and want to do much better,” he said. “We want to be where some people in the world think we cannot be.”

Rwanda Day reconnected attendees from Canada, various European countries, Rwanda, and the U.S.