It’s not easy being an Idol. In fact, it really changed life for one Malian public servant.

By Stuart Russell

A high school teacher in Timbuktu, Baba Mahamane Mahamane always strives to be punctual, respectful and hardworking. But since becoming a finalist in 2017 Integrity Idol Mali, his students expect even more from him. That has inspired him to be a better role model.

Mahamane Mahamane’s experience is not unique.  Following their nomination, these “Idols” often gain a new level of respect in their communities that helps them spread their values and build on initiatives they have already started.

Civil servants with strong integrity are more than just high-performing bureaucrats, roundtable participants at Integrity Idol’s December gala agreed. Often, they are bright lights of their communities. Spotlighting their off-the-clock work is key for improving the image of the bureaucracy and promoting integrity broadly in Mali. 


Examples of Idols’ community work abound. A primary school director, Nassou Keita organizes an economic association for women in her neighborhood. Since being named an Idol in late 2017, she has incorporated lessons on integrity at her school. Another 2017 finalist, Abdramane Boulhaf Kane, leads an organization that teaches tailoring skills to people in his community.

Meanwhile, Issa Dia, a soldier, uses basketball to teach army children the importance of education and civility. Since becoming an Idol in 2016, he has spread the program from his hometown Bamako to Timbuktu, where he’s now stationed.

Accountability Lab will be looking increasingly at how we can support these Idols as they continue to spread their ethos of integrity.