Each year, a day in March is celebrated as the Commonwealth Day to bring limelight to this family of 54 independent countries with a combined population of over 2.5billion people, aspiring to shared principles and values of freedom and prosperity.
This year the day falls on March 14 but as has become custom over the recent past, celebrating the Commonwealth Day is a weeklong event, during which member countries and affiliate organizations undertake various activities to push forward the shared ambitions of The Commonwealth.
Established in 1949 after some of Britain’s former colonies begun to attain their self-governance, the modern Commonwealth is a family of voluntary members, “co-operating freely in the pursuit of peace, liberty and progress” as enshrined in the community’s Declaration.
Rwanda and Mozambique are the only two members of The Commonwealth who are not formerly British Colonies. For Rwanda joining The Commonwealth was a choice informed by the fact that as a country, we identify with the values and principles of the community and see opportunities to learn from each other and co-operate for shared prosperity.
At the hoisting of the Rwandan Flag among those of other member countries at the Marlborough House –Headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat –in London, H.E President Paul Kagame put into good perspective what membership to this family means.
“For us, joining the Commonwealth is an important milestone in our development journey. It means that we enter a unique and diverse family, with whom similar values and aspirations are shared, and which provides a wide range of opportunities for mutual collaboration and advancement. Our vision for Rwanda is of a country open to these opportunities, which will better the lives of our people and drive forward our nations socio-economic transformation.”
His message remains relevant today, more so in the increasing global challenge of the COVID19 crisis, climate change and other global issues which call all on us as world leaders and communities to address them in unity, with a common vision, more co-operation and learning from one another.
The celebration of the Commonwealth Day comes only three months before the scheduled Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), to take place in Rwanda during the week of June 20, 2022.
Despite having had to be postponed twice, in 2020 and 2021, due to pandemic restrictions, Rwanda remains committed and is ready to receive the Commonwealth Family and host a memorable, impactful and enjoyable CHOGM.
To be hosted under the theme “Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, and Transforming” CHOGM2022 Rwanda provides a unique opportunity for members to deliberate on innovative ways to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges including climate change, recovery from the effects of the COVID19 pandemic and how to bounce back better leaving no one behind. These innovations will be hinged on leveraging cooperation and The Commonwealth’s influence to transform lives and create prosperity.
In addition to the meeting of the Heads of Government, CHOGM Rwanda2022 will feature its customary forums in which every citizen of The Commonwealth will have the opportunity to contribute to the debate and influence the decisions of our senior-most leaders.
These forums are; Youth Forum, which offers a unique platform for the over 1.5billion youth in the Commonwealth to have a voice that is heard; Women’s Forum for the advancement of gender equality and women empowerment for their optimal contribution to the transformative agenda of the community; People’s Forum, which brings the dynamic ideas of all our peoples voiced by civil society organisations from all levels to influence the way forward; and the Business Forum, a very influential platform for connecting business minds to innovate solutions to our most pressing challenges.
Through these forums, CHOGMRwanda2022 will be inclusive and representative of the diversity of the people of the Commonwealth, creating the base for expediting implementation of the outcomes of the weeklong engagements.
This is an opportunity for citizens of the Commonwealth, more so those of us in Africa to take advantage of having the event on the continent and utilizing its platforms to make heard our voices and contribute to forging a more equitable and sustainable world.
At the meetings, Rwanda will also assume the role of Chair in Office of the Commonwealth for which it is committed to ensuring that there is effective coordination of the implementations of the resolutions of CHOGMRwanda2022 as well as outstanding ones from previous forums.
Thanks to our visionary leadership and timely investment with our community and partners, Rwanda today is one of those countries with the least risk of COVID19, having vaccinated more than 60% of the population already.
As a result, the government recently cut down on pandemic related restrictions, opening more and more and it is our hope that come June, beautiful Kigali and the scenic land of a thousand hills will be even more open for all of you to enjoy the events of CHOGMRwanda2022.
As we reminisce the shared values, cultures and history of our community on this Commonwealth Day, I take this opportunity to invite you all to be a part of CHOGM2022. Over the next few weeks, more details on registration and participation will be shared on www.chogm2022.rw and the High Commission of Rwanda in Ghana will also find as many avenues as possible to ensure that you all remain informed on developments.
The writer is the High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda to Ghana with additional responsibility to Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo.