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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Umuganda

Today was the last Saturday in April, so many of us trainees headed back to the field we helped hoe last month. This time I brought my camera.

Today’s activity was turning the soil again to break it up, and then planting cassava. Sticks from cassava plants were delivered by truck from Kigali, broken up into 6-8 inch pieces with sprouts, or “eyes,” and partially buried in the dirt with the eyes pointing up towards the sun.

When the cassava is grown, it will either be distributed to the poor or sold to raise money for a project in the local area.

I was very impressed that both the Mayor of Nyanza district and the Governor of the entire Southern Province turned out to help. The governor was hard at work but was kind enough to let me take his picture. He is below, with a hoe overhead. (He’s very sporting in an outfit of a Nike hat, Fila shirt, and Adidas pants; Reebock should endorse him as well.)





The Mayor is above, roughly center in the white polo shirt, pioneering an interesting hoeing technique. He’s a helpful and friendly man who has made us very welcome in Nyanza.

After a few hours of work, the crowd gathered to hear the Mayor and Governor speak about the organization of the August elections. 

Those who participate in Umuganda get pink record cards with space for their village and cell officials to endorse their attendance. As you can see, this card begins in April (the 4th month) and has space for a year. I am told that if a person is involved in a local dispute they may present their Umuganda participation card to demonstrate their credibility as a good citizen. In some parts of Rwanda, failure to contribute to Umuganda may incur a fine.

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