The word Umushyikirano translates to a meeting where participants are able to exchange ideas, share experiences and question each other. Today Umushyikirano is known as the National Dialogue Council.
As part of efforts to reconstruct Rwanda and nurture a shared national identity, the Government of Rwanda drew on aspects of Rwandan culture and traditional practices to enrich and adapt its development programs to the country’s needs and context. The result is a set of Home Grown Solutions – culturally owned practices translated into sustainable development programs. One of these Home Grown Solutions is Umushyikirano.
Governed by the Rwandan Constitution (Article 168), Umushyikirano is a forum where participants debate issues relating to the state of the nation, the state of local government and national unity. The Office of the Prime Minister is responsible for the overall co-ordination of Umushyikirano.
Umushyikirano is an annual event chaired by the President of Rwanda that gives Rwandans from all walks of life the opportunity to ask questions directly to their leaders. The event is attended by members of the Cabinet and Parliament, representatives of the Rwandan community abroad, local government, media, the diplomatic community and others invited by the President. Those unable to attend in person at Rwanda’s parliament building can participate via telephone, SMS, Twitter and Facebook as well as follow the debate live on television and radio.
The first National Dialogue Council took place on 28 June 2003 and has been held each year since. A summary report and recommendations are produced at each dialogue and a complete archive of these documents is accessible here.
Umushyikirano aims to be a leading example of participatory and inclusive governance. It is hoped that by directly engaging with their leaders, Rwandans feel part of the decision making that affects their lives. Umushyikirano also serves as a forum for Rwandans to hold their leaders and government to account.
Each year about one thousand people attend the event in person, while thousands more follow the proceedings through live TV coverage, online and radio.
At the event, Rwandans have the opportunity to ask questions to their leaders. Each Umushyikirano has a theme and participants are asked to pose questions related to that theme or any other development issue. Once a participant has asked a question, either in person, via Twitter, Facebook, SMS, the web or phone, the leader responsible for that area responds. All questions asked are recorded.
The main achievements of Umushyikirano are considered to be the participation of Rwandans in national decision making and the fast-tracking of government programs and citizen priorities based on the resolutions tabled each year.
For more Information go to Past Events