Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS)


Liberal Studies

First Reader

Christopher Whann

Second Reader

Katherine Graney


Umuganda, the ritual of communal labor practiced in Rwanda since pre-colonial kingdoms, has a long and varied history of implementation. Once an integral part of the patron-client relationship, umuganda originated as the exchange of cattle for feudal protection; currently, it is a system of mandatory labor being utilized for post-genocide political and economic development. Umuganda has been championed by both past and present presidential administrations as the foundational centerpiece of progress, yet it also served as an instrumental tool in mass participation during the genocide. This paper will focus on the historical roots and transformation of umuganda in order to deconstruct its current use as encouraging economic and political development.