Rwandan mayor awarded prestigious Imihigo prize

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Africa Agenda

Mayor Justus Kangagwye

Monica LaBiche Brown, an Africa Agenda network blogger and board member, gives her impressions from a recent trip to Rwanda.

The mayor of the Rulindo District in Rwanda, Justus Kangagwye, a Water For People partner, is the Proud recipient of the 2010-2011 the Imihigo Prize.

The top ten officials who meet the majority of their performance contract goals are recognized each year in a ceremony featuring the president, Paul Kagame.  At the ceremony the top three performers are awarded trophies.

The practice has been so successful that ministers and students are now being asked to sign performance contracts.  The idea behind asking university students, who receive government support to sign, is to hold them accountable, encourage performance excellence and develop a new pool of leaders for the next generation.

Likewise, international nongovernmental organizations working in Rwanda are required to demonstrate their accomplishments or forfeit their local registration. It appears that all areas of governance are held accountable in some form.  It is not surprising that out of the 183 countries assessed by the World Corruption Index, Rwanda was ranked number 49.

While in Rwanda recently, I was fascinated when I discovered how people hold each other accountable.  I felt a sense of pride to know that the Rwandan people had gone back to their ancestral roots to rediscover a tradition of accountability and legitimacy. The question I have been asking myself is how many of these traditions could transform a country or transform Africa if they are not overlooked or lost forever due to westernization.

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