President Paul Kagame yesterday rolled up his sleeves to do community work with the rest of the nation, as part of Umuganda, held on the last Saturday of each month. The President cut a fine figure as he got down to work, trimming the over-grown grass in his Kiyovu neighbourhood.
This is how important Umuganda is for the whole nation, it is a moment that Rwandan’s get together each Saturday morning once a month and clean their areas of residence, it is a time of getting rid of the dirt that would have accumulated over the month.
It is also a time for those who can to volunteer in building houses for the needy. The overall national significance of Umuganda is that citizens unite for a collective purpose of keeping their country clean. No car moves, all shops are closed, business halts, as each individual goes about their national obligation.
Umuganda can also be a spiritual moment of healing and reflection; as exhibited by our legislators, who decided to clean the Gahanga Genocide Memorial site, in respect of those who lost their lives during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Umuganda today saw many, in the communities, reflect on the 15th Genocide Commemorations to take place from the 7th of April, albeit with much difficulty as memories of those terrible days come back.
Fifteen years on the healing process continues. However, as we see clearly symbolised in the Umuganda, Rwandans will not be defined by the scars or tears of the past, but by the collective will to work for a better future.
Any visitor to Kigali, will tell you about the progress that has been made in the reconstruction efforts; busy streets, hotels, banks, children in school, hospitals getting stocked with medication. All this and more could not have been imagined possible 15 years ago.
Rwanda is an example a beacon for all citizens of the world to know that no matter what calamity you have suffered in life, it is possible to stand up and move on.
We see Rwandans joining hands led by President Kagame once a month during Umuganda as a commitment to that resolve to move on and rebuild the country.