Rwanda: Rwanda-palooza !


At Timberland, Servapalooza used to be that day in September when the company shut down for a day and we all went to do community service. Yesterday, we discovered the Rwanda version of Servapalooza: Maganda.

Every last Saturday of the month, from 8 to 11am, the whole country stops and people do community service. Clusters of 100 houses form a group, and each group selects a community service project to work on. It could be building terraces, repairing a road, planting trees, cleaning up the neighbourhood. Senior government figures including the president join in.

There is a typically Rwandan twist to this though. That monthly community service day is mandatory and strictly enforced. Police set up roadblocks and stop anyone not participating in Maganda !

During those three hours, usually subdued Kigali feels even more eerily quiet.