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What Rwanda did right to become the cleanest nation in Africa.

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  1. Rwanda government banned use of polythene bags. Non biodegradable plastic bags is the most pollutant in most African cities. This greatly reduces the amount of trash.
  2. On last Saturday of every month. Its called Umuganda day. This is the day that the whole community come together and clean their neighborhoods.
  3. Rwanda also invested much on keeping the country clean. Unlike other African countries that pollution issue is not really given that top priority in parliament or even when budgeting.
  4. Rwandese Government enforce laws to those who pollute the environment. Other African countries, yes the laws are there but no one is enforcing them.
  5. Rwandese in general have learnt that they are ‘cleanest country’ in Africa and they practice good waste disposal they don’t want to lose that title.

I would like to add one more thing. The mentality and how these changes came about. Exemplary leadership.

The monthly community service, banning plastic bags, enforcing the laws, the self-pride that comes with knowing that our country is the cleanest in Africa.

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Kigali Peace Marathon, one of the yearly event in our nation’s capital.

Truth to be told, it requires nothing to clean your house or neighborhoods. It does not require any aid to make sure that your area is cleaned. This is what Rwanda has done for a little over 15 years with Umuganda, the monthly community service, and for 10 years with the plastic bag ban.

How was Rwanda successful in imposing the polythene ban? ( My answer on how Rwanda became the first country to successfully ban plastic bag in 2008).

It has worked and any African can do it too. However, do not think that it came out of nowhere. It was a community effort and everybody did their best.

In the beginning, It started out from the president, the leaders, and the people followed the trend. Without the people’s support, nothing would have been possible.

In Rwanda, we used to have the old school mentality of “big boss” leadership. Politicians were considered like the bosses. They would only give commands and they would sit down. When Paul Kagame was elected president in 2003, he started to change that mentality a little bit.

Slowly but surely, the political leaders started to become like servants of the people. We still have a long way to go with regards to mayors and governors of provinces. However, we have made some progress that they are starting to behave like they serve the people.

Our politicians do and should work for us. They are our leaders, but also they are our servants.

President Kagame has been drilling these fundamentals into their heads for 15 years now. In my opinion, they are finally starting to get it. However, it took lots of time and efforts.

What is only in Rwanda? ( My answer on Rwandan exceptionalism in leadership).

To change the mentality, it did require the president himself to pick up plastic bags along the streets and making those incidences public. In Rwandan DNA, the leader is the boss and he only should instruct.

When we saw the “man himself” getting his hands dirty, we knew the streets had to be cleaned. Make no mistake, this is not a photo opportunity, like many African leaders would do. President Kagame does this on a regular basis. He has done this, thousands of times by now.

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The President getting to work at Umuganda

Leading by example is a big part of how Rwanda was able to change the mentality of the people. This is how PK’s leadership works. He knows that whatever he does, people will simply follow because of the respect and the trust they have in him.

In addition to Umuganda, we also have sports day and car free day in Kigali. Think about it? Kigali is the largest and the capital city in Rwanda. Imagine stopping all cars in the largest city in your country for 4 hours every 2nd saturday of the month, from 0800 to 1200, to allow citizens to walk freely in the streets, enjoying their city. That is “ environmental sustainability” at its best.

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This day is to encourage people to stay healthy by doing some physical exercises. They just started the program, but I assume one year down, people are going to stay active in their own time. You have to start from somewhere.

Sports day and car free day in Kigali are on the second saturday of the month. Umuganda is on the last saturday of the month. It is meant to encourage people to lead healthy lives, taking care of their bodies, physically and emotionally.

Guess who is always there every time when his busy schedule permits?

Paul Kagame himself.

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This is the president, walking in the streets of Kigali ( 10 minutes from my house).

In the photo below, he is getting tested for blood sugar levels, heart rate and other vital signs. I am sure he has an entire medical team that looks after his health. However, on a saturday morning after a sports day and car free day, he knows that the only way to get people motivated is to lead by example.

This is how he wins our hearts and how the government is able to create public awareness of any issues they want to put forth.

In Rwanda, such tactics work because from the year 1081 when the kingdom of Rwanda was created by our great ancestor, Gihanga Ngomijana, Rwandan people tend to follow the commands. We respect our leaders’ rules.

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In a nutshell, exemplary leadership is how Rwanda has managed to be the “cleanest” nation in Africa.

Any African can do the same. It is really not rocket-science. Once the people get it and they are actively involved throughout the process, the rest is easy.

Enjoy some more photos of Kigali and Rwanda

Downtown Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda.

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Aerial view of Kacyiru, my neighborhood in Kigali.

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Tea plantation in Rusizi, Western Province, near the Nyungwe Forest, the largest tropical forest in Africa.

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A few more adventures that make Rwanda, an attractive destination for tourists.

Safari in the Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park, and the city of Kigali.

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Rwandans have a rich culture. Lots of traditions.

Rwanda is a very welcoming country. We have a rich culture of dance, music, arts and all that. There is nothing we enjoy more than sharing our culture with others. If you come visit us, we will be happy to share it with you.

Below are a few photos of our sisters showcasing our amazing culture through dance and music. Amazing hospitality, great and friendly people.

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Rwandan Culture displayed by our beautiful ladies

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Rwandan Traditional Dance at the Berlin ( Germany) International Tourism Festival ( March 2018).

For more about Rwanda, check out my Quora at Rwanda Today.

Promoting tourism through branding and marketing the new Rwanda.

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Public Transportation in our nation’s capital, Kigali.

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