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A TV contest makes officials famous for doing good
May 5, 2017

Group of people standing in front of banner that reads “Integrity Idol Mali” (Courtesy of Integrity Idol Mali)
Integrity Idol Mali winners pose with Kondo Moussa (fourth from right) and members of the Accountability Lab (Courtesy of Integrity Idol Mali)

The globally broadcast TV show Integrity Idol makes rock stars out of public officials who have done good.

The show works like other prime-time televised contests but selects a winner not based on singing or dancing talent, but on how much he or she has done as a public official to help people.

The contest creates “a national conversation about corruption and shows the importance of honesty, integrity and personal responsibility in public affairs,” said Kondo Moussa, who was involved with Integrity Idol while working at the Accountability Lab in Washington as a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow from Mali.

The thinking behind the show is that the best way to stop corruption is not by shaming, but by rewarding those doing the right thing.

Integrity Idol began in Nepal in 2014, spread to Liberia in 2015, and then moved on to Nigeria, Pakistan and Mali.

Moussa brought the contest to Mali in hopes of building a national conversation around how to lead with honesty and integrity. “We want to help this younger generation of Malians come together and collectively push for the change they want to see,” Moussa said.

How the contest works

  • Volunteers travel across their countries gathering nominations from citizens. They host public forums on the need for public officials with integrity.
  • The nominees are narrowed down to a final five in each country with the help of independent panels of experts.
  • The five finalists are filmed and these episodes are shown on national television and played on the radio for a week. Citizens can vote for their favorites through SMS short-codes and through a website.
  • The winner in each country is crowned in a national ceremony in the capital.

Military officer Issa Dia won the 2106 contest in Mali. Dia created a community initiative called LAYIDU that provides children with venues to learn and play sports together.

Integrity Idol said his “devotion to his job and helping his community, as well as his honesty and hard work, make Issa Dia a man of great integrity.”

Nominations are being accepted for the 2017 contest.