TIME

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is happy to discuss what makes an African strongman

PERSONAL BUSINESS IS WHAT’S BROUGHT THE President of Rwanda to Manhattan. Paul Kagame’s daughter is graduating from Columbia University with a master’s degree in international affairs. “I probably will have to come back in two weeks again,” Kagame says of his U.S. visit, in a room in the Park Hyatt, half a block south of Central Park. “My son is graduating from Williams College.”

His country, meanwhile, is marking an anniversary. It was 25 years ago that some 1 million Rwandans were murdered, a genocide that went unchecked by Western governments. The slaughter lasted until guerrilla forces led by Kagame drove the killers from the country that he has ruled since—six years in the de facto capacity of Vice President and since 2000 as President.

The trauma still defines Rwanda,

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