Umuganda doing the magic
A few years back when Umuganda was barely more than just a symbolic practice, there was little to show for the community work. However, when the monthly exercise started to take on its true meaning, I immediately realised how invaluable working together as a people really was.
Today, across Rwanda, communities have solved local problems, including paving roads and creating and clearing drainage systems. In my own neighbourhood households no longer have to succumb to heavy rains because residents came together and created the channel for rainwater streaming down the hill.
Through Umuganda, government officials, military and police personnel as well as residents have also constructed schools, especially for the Nine- and 12-Year Basic Education programmes. This has provided more children with the opportunity to go to school with much ease.
Umuganda is a traditional practice but its true importance has only manifested in the recent years, thanks to community organisation and ownership. But Umuganda is more than just coming together to clear bushes, pave roads and promote hygiene. It is also an occasion for village members to discuss issues of shared interest and chart the way forward for the common good of the neighbourhood.
Globally, Umuganda has helped the country to save and use the money in tackling challenges that Umuganda cannot help fix. Let’s all uphold Umuganda and all the other home-grown practices that Rwandans have devised to address their own challenges.