Louise Mushikiwabo is a Rwandan politician and public relations executive. She is the current Secretary-General of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), thereby becoming the second woman to hold this position.
Prior to OIF, Louise was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Rwanda from 2009 to 2018. Also, she was once the Rwandan Minister of Information.
Generally, she has been praised for her ability to achieve goals, due to her political sense of intuition.
Louise Mushikiwabo Background
Louse Mushikiwabo was born on May 22 1961 in Kigali, Rwanda as the youngest of nine children. Her father Bitsindinkumi, a Tutsi from the Batsobe clan was a farmer, and her mother, Nyiratulira was a first cousin of the philosopher and historian, Alexis Kagame. Altogether, Louise belongs to the generation of independence both in her country and in Afrca.
Firstly, she grew up in Kigali where she had her primary and secondary school education. Then in 1981, she moved to the National University of Rwanda, Butare to study English until 1984. Then, she worked briefly as a secondary school teacher.
In 1986, she moved to the US for MA in Languages and Interpretation at the University of Delaware. After graduating in 1988, Louise remained in Washington, D.C, United States.
Louise is fluent in French, English and Kinyarwanda languages.
Louise Mushikiwabo Career
Louise began her career at lobbying organisations. Subsequently, she took a role at the African Development Bank (ADB). At ADB, she lived briefly in Tunisia and worked in the communications department and then became the bank’s Communications Director.
After, in March 2008, she was called to return home by the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. On her return, she became the Minister for Information and acted as the government spokesperson. Next, in December 2009, she was appointed the Foreign Minister of Rwanda and International Cooperation.
Similarly, on October 12, 2018, Louise was elected as the fourth Secretary-General of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). This was an acclamation by the Heads of State and Government at the XVII Francophonie in Yerevan, Armenia.
As a result, she became the second woman after Michaelle Jean, to head the OIF, an organisation that represents nations and regions that speak French as a customary language.
Rwanda Means the Universe
In 2006, Louise co-wrote a book titled Rwanda Means the Universe. It was written alongside an American journalist and ex-marine, Jack Kramer. The book is a socio-historical intergenerational and semi-autobiographical memory. It centers around the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
The book describes her family history, her early life in Rwanda, and her perspective of the genocide while in Washington, US as she received the news of the death of her family members.
Aside the book, she has also written other articles for print and digital press. She has participated in several TV and radio programs on Rwandan and Pan-African subjects.
Also, she is a collaborator on many documentary films such as; the BBC – When Good Men Do Nothing; Internews -The Arusha Tapes; CNN & Times – Called to Account and many others.
Aside from being the Secretary-General of the OIF, some other public positions she holds include;
- Member of the Advisory Council, Munich Security Conference
- Member International Gender Champions, IGC
Awards And Recognition
- Outstanding Humanitarian Award, American University and School of International Studies, 2004
- The 50 Most Influential Africans, The African Report, 2012
- Most Influential African Personalities on the Continent, Jeune Afrique, 2018
- 100 Most Influential Africans, The New African Magazine, 2018
- Nominee, Honorary Woman of the Year, Women Choice’s Awards, 2019
- One of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Africa, Forbes Africa, 2020
Louise Mushikiwabo Quotes
“Unfortunately, most westerners form their opinions of Africa based on the reporting and news in their own countries.”
“As long as countries wave cheque books over our head, we can never be equal”.
“When we say that life is full of surprises, it is real.”
“I think that sentiment of ambition and moving forward has to do with the thirst to live to the fullest.”
“Our choice is not to have politicians fight – our choice is to keep going.”
“The French language has no complex when compared to English. But the world today is such that it is beneficial to those who speak French to speak other languages. We go much further with more languages. We are more fortunate in employment and training with more languages…”
“English is today the language of Silicon Valley, of technology, of research, of social networks…”
“Human rights are not reserved for some countries and not for others. These are aspirations that everyone has. There are always improvements to be made in rights and freedoms.”
Lessons From The Life of Louise Mushikiwabo
Odds can also create defining moments
During the Rwandan genocide, in a bit to challenge some of the politics Louise saw, she took interest in congressional politics in the US and started working for lobbying organisations.
According to her, hearing the death of her family members during that time was so challenging and terrible. But despite all odds, she came out of that episode with a lot of strength that she initially didn’t think she’d have. So, she wrote the book Rwanda Means the Universe, where she was able to explain the whole situation of the genocide. To date, the book still offers insight for the upcoming generation.
Learn from every available opportunity
According to Mushikiwabo, she learned a lot from President Paul Kagame in different ways. For instance, during their years of working together, she learned how he handles foreign affairs and the ways he pursues the interests of the country.
She disclosed “I very much feel that I am influenced politically by the president for who he is and what he represents for our country.”
Taking all her experiences and training seriously did not only pave way for her in OIF, but it has helped her in fulfiling her role as the Secretary-General.
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