Itorero is the Rwandan version of a Bar Mitzva, or for the Africans out there the Rwandan version of when young men go off into the bush for month to learn about being a man, their culture, and their communities. It is a cultural education program designed to build national unity. Rwandans have revived their tradition of Itorero to create trainer of trainers; that is take leaders of all forms throughout the country and train them on what it is to be a Rwandan so that they may better guide and lead others.
See: article in The New Times for a blurb
In New Times article the Minister of local government describes Itorero as “a culture-based platform… through which people solve their problems, promoting national unity and executing all government development programmes at all levels… It’s a way of pooling resources towards a common good”, he added.
What I like about this programme is that it uses an old tradition that formed the foundation of Rwandan society before colonization and gives it a modern twist for the realities of today. No need to bring in experts to solve a problem, use what systems already exist and make them relevant again.
I had the pleasure of sitting in on the Itorero training of Sector Executive Secretaries for one day. On that day the Minister of Local Government spent the time to present an interactive module on decision-making and strategic thinking within the context of Rwandan values. I was impressive, from what little I’ve seen, Itorero is a pretty fantastic way of bringing up the next generation of leaders. Give them a ‘boot camp’ experience in a beautiful location for 25 days where they can problem solve real issues of leardership, build a sense of camaraderi and develop the self confidence and tools necessary to bring their communities together.