Fabien Majoro explains how the Rwandan government was able to adapt and utilize the traditional concept of imihigo to improve the delivery of programs and services to the people of Rwanda. Imihigo, a traditional approach to motivating youth that was employed in the military service during the precolonial era, involves, in Majoro’s words, “pledging to do things beyond the normal assignment and effectively doing them.” Beginning in 2006, this concept served as the basis for national campaigns to promote healthy behaviors such as handwashing and shoe wearing; its success led Rwandan officials to adapt it to more comprehensive programs designed to address larger issues, such as “fighting soil erosion, mobilizing the population for health insurance [and] reforestation.” Currently, the concept is utilized as the foundation of competitions whereby provinces and their subdivisions--districts, sectors, cells, and villages--compete at each level to determine who can carry out government programs and initiatives most effectively. The Prime Minister presides over quarterly evaluations and assessments of the competitions; results are publicized on a website and disseminated to the Rwandan people via radio.
At the time of the interview, Fabien Majoro was director general of the Coordination Unit in the Office of Rwanda’s Prime Minister. Majoro, an attorney specializing in human rights law and the law of war, holds law degrees from a law school in Rwanda as well as from Notre Dame Law School in the United States. He worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross for four years, and advised the national government of Rwanda in matters of international law prior to being appointed to his current position. He has also taught human rights law and other legal subjects as a visiting lecturer at Kigali Independent University.