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Rwandan President Talks Buisness, Chicago Mob Attacks

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Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Rwandan President Paul Kagame (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Rwandan President Paul Kagame was in Chicago over the weekend, addressing expatriates who gathered in the city for a two-day event.

Kagame also met with business leaders, and he granted WBBM Newsradio 780 his only broadcast interview.

As Felicia Middlebrooks reports, Chicago businessman Joe Ritchie met Kagame eight years ago. He introduced Kagame to the chief executive officer of Costco, who then invested in coffee from Rwanda.

The Costco CEO then brought in the Starbucks CEO, who invested in Rwandan coffee as well.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Felicia Middlebrooks reports

President Kagame says he has built a powerful network of friends.

“The family of friends kept growing bigger and bigger every year,” he said.

Former U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert gives Kagame high praise.

“Here’s a man that came along and changed things, and I think that’s extraordinary,” he said.

Kagame is credited with the movement that stopped the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed.

He was just reelected to a seven-year term, receiving 95 percent of the vote.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) is looking forward to doing business with Kagame.

“I want Chicago to become the hub of international trade, in particular as it relates to Africa,” Rush said.

But some more troubling subjects also came up when Kagame visited. He said he had heard about the mobs targeting innocent people in Chicago’s affluent neighborhood, and weighed in on how he would handle the problem.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Felicia Middlebrooks reports

Kagame said the mob attacks – which have happened largely in Streeterville and near the Magnificent Mile, and on CTA trains – might well be more complicated than what meets the eye.

He said in his own country, violence exhibited by young people is not uncommon. What is uncommon is how authorities deal with it.

“From my standpoint and all experience, the way to deal with that is not simply to put more policemen on the street,” Kagame said.

He says no city can just allow violence to continue, but along with the police presence, the underlying causes of the mob action should be examined.

“Give them hands on-training; some kinds of skills,” Kagame said. “Also, are they looked after? They are fed, they are educated – more importantly, they are given skills.”

In Rwanda, 17 years after the genocide, Kagame says people come out of six-month programs to train them and develop their skills totally changed.

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