This coming weekend, Rwandans will take on the usual monthly communal work commonly referred to as ‘Umuganda’.
As usual, businesses will come at a halt during morning hours as residents embark on an exercise purposely designed to be a day of contribution to building the country by citizens themselves.
Countrywide, Rwandans will perform various activities that include clearing bushy areas, sweeping and working on projects such as building shelter for the vulnerable people, among others.
If you are a guest, do not be surprised because Rwandans have so much respect for Umuganda that everyone will participate a part from those who may not be able due to health complications.
You will also discover that this is an effective strategy to guarantee tidiness because everyone is entitled to contribute towards the country’s beauty.
In fact, local authorities are very strict on making the community effect the program and Rwandans are always prepared for it since it happens on a specific day, the last Saturday of the month.
Whereas I appreciate that Umuganda is important and should be made compulsory, there are some groups of people who should be exempted from the exercise.
I am not implying that such people should never participate, what I am saying is that they should be given the liberty to participate only if they can.
Last month, as Umuganda was underway, I failed to get a car but with deadlines to beat for the next day’s issue, I walked to work.
I met a traffic police officer along the way and he stopped me saying that movements on the roads are prohibited until Umuganda was over.
I tried to argue out my case but my plea fell on deaf ears. As I politely spoke with him, my argument was that a daily news paper requires workers (especially writers) on a daily basis.
He pointed out that some people deliberately create dodging tactics when they should be actively taking part in an activity that is entirely meant for their own benefit. I totally agree.
But take a scenario where a doctor is expected to perform an operation on the day of Umuganda.
What would happen if a pilot scheduled to fly a plane from Kigali International Airport to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam would be stuck in a hotel room simply because its Umuganda day?
My personal perception is that we should not only wait for this one day so as to clean our compounds, work places and other relevant areas.
It`s not proper to wait for that for day in their homes. It is necessary to perform those duties whenever need be.
Rwandans should be organized with a sense of taking care of personal responsibilities so as to make a significant impact in the community.
Given the rate of growth at which Rwanda is and expectations of development based on the ongoing regional trade, many different economic activities, among other developments, are more likely to arise which can easily contribute to more waste products.
In that case, a culture of keeping our places clean is neccesary to ensure that investors and businessmen can adopt the culture to maintain the beauty of their country.