A cocktail of events, including traditional dance, acrobatics, skating, drumming and mixed views on which team would win the tournament coloured with public excitement underpinned the opening of the 2016 CAF African Nations Championship on Saturday, with President Kagame gracing the opening ceremony in Kigali.
The opening match between Rwanda's Amavubi (Wasps) against Ivory Coast's Elephants kicked off at 3pm local time, with the stadium filled to capacity with largely local fans drawn from across the country at the tournament at Amahoro National Stadium.
Some were painted in national colours.
Tickets sold out with the price going for more than double the original price for last minute buyers.
The president, who was accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame, was dressed in a dark coat with un-matching trousers without tie but with shades.
He was flanked by CAF president Issa Hayatou, who is also the acting head of FIFA.
He condensed Rwanda's pride in hosting the tournament in a few words.
"I declare the fourth edition of the African Nations Championship 2016, Rwanda, open," Kagame said to deafening applause.
Earlier, each country bedecked in their respective national colours showcased traditional performance, marching around the pitch to thunderous applause.
"I have been waiting for this day. When you look at the build up matches Rwanda is likely to win today's match. They have been training through routine games and friendly matches, players are in good form, I am confident of today's game," said 25-year old Jean Pierre Bulamba.
He added "I am a great fan of Amavubi, I accepted to be painted in these national colours not for nothing. We have the home advantage and we must win."
A female fan who gave her name as Claudine said: "I am not going to say it is a must win because I believe all the teams here are well prepared but I have confident in Rwandan team. Rwandans have flocked here to give morale to our team, we need to win."
Another fan Gerome Butera stated calmly that: "We are having this game with a lot of anxiety because it will determine whether Rwandans continue to watch the games in numbers or not."
When the game started, the Rwandan team started on a high, taking the ball to the Ivorian players, no wonder they edged them 1-0 through a free kick by central defender Emery Bayisenge.
It is the first win for Rwanda against Ivory Coast in their seven meetings.
We are now hosts, we needed to change this, said Butera.
While the hosts dominated the first half, things changed in the second half but the Elephants failed to see the net of their counterparts.
Rwanda would have scored more goals had it not wasted its chances: First skipper Jacques Tuyisenge wasted his chances, the central defender Emery Bayisenge also missed a penalty in the second half.
"We are happy with the way the team played mostly in first half where we dominated the game," Johnny McKinstry, Amavubi head coach told journalists after the match.
On the other hand, Ivory Coast coach Michel Dussuyer expressed disappointment.
"We are disappointed with results because we had chances but this is football. We have to accept the loss and look forward for the next matches," he said.
Saturday's win gives Rwanda 3 points clear ahead of the Group A pool.
Rwanda's next match will be against Gabon on Wednesday.
(Xinhua News Agency January 17, 2016)