President Paul Kagame has awarded the inaugural Igihango National Order of Outstanding Friendship to nine personalities, in recognition of their exemplary service to Rwanda in various ways since the end of the Genocide against the Tutsis.
The recipients are Hezi Bezalel, Howard G. Buffett, Gilbert R. Chagoury, John W. Dick, Dr. Paul Farmer, Dafroza Mukarumongi-Gauthier, Alain Gauthier, Prof. Linda Melvern and Joseph Ritchie.
Speaking after the conferment, Kagame pointed out that the individuals had made substantial contributions towards Rwanda’s renaissance, supplementing the efforts of Rwandans, thereby developing a strong bond between them and Rwandans.
“Our friends who we acknowledge and recognise here tonight added their efforts to the dedication and commitment of Rwandans; we have really gone through the hardships together and overcome those seemingly insurmountable problems,” he said. “We deem each of them to have a special bond with our country, because of specific actions that could only be taken by someone with deep love and attachment and dedication to the people of Rwanda.”
“In the context of Rwanda’s dramatic journey, the concrete acts of solidarity have particular meaning. Through the toughest times, where circumstances dictated that we had to rely on ourselves to survive, Rwanda was never totally alone,” Kagame added.
In their acceptance remarks, the recipients pointed out that they chose to be with Rwanda and Rwandans because they could see a people committed to beat all odds to transform their nation at any cost, and said that they attached great importance to the medal.