Will Burundi move on after Nkurunziza?

Editor, RE: “Burundi after Nkurunziza” (The New Times, November 23).
Protesters in Bujumbura. Violence is increasing in Burundi following a controversial election held in July. (Net photo)
Protesters in Bujumbura. Violence is increasing in Burundi following a controversial election held in July. (Net photo)


RE: “Burundi after Nkurunziza” (The New Times, November 23).

Allow me to thank the writer, Lonzen Rugira, for cutting through the wood and getting to the real nub of what ails our sister country, Burundi.

To my brothers and sisters, Burundians, do you really wish to lock yourselves forever into the categories in which your colonisers divided you in order to more easily play off one against the other and therefore control you?

For look at the protestors in the streets, the refugees in or outside the camps or the people in Nkurunziza’s jails, or those whose badly tortured bodies have been dumped on the street these many months. I don’t know about you, but I have been seeing only Burundians in all these places; not Hutu or Tutsi or any other category—just Burundians.

Perhaps it is long past time for Burundian politicians to begin seeing their people as one rather than the colonial-era categories your ex-colonial master divided you in order to ease his rule over you and which all post-colonial governments have perpetuated for their own reasons.

In the hardship and even death Pierre Nkurunziza dragged you into, you managed to transcend your artificial cleavages. Can’t you do the same and continue to be one children of Burundi post-Nkurunziza?

For ultimately the decision is for you, the people of Burundi, to make.

Mwene Kalinda


Dear Mr Rugira, Mr Mwene Kalinda and others,

I am sorry but this article shows that you do not understand Burundi enough or at all. And it is quite sad actually because throughout the Burundi crisis, I have realised that our closest siblings, the Rwandans, do not understand or know Burundi enough.

Rwandans tend to look at the crises in Burundi through their lenses and not those of Burundians. The reality is that the current crisis is political and not ethnic despite what some may want to make it.

Both the leaders of the opposition and the government are Hutu and Tutsi. In fact, the staunchest opponents to Nkurunziza are ethnic Hutu.

The reason is very simple: In Arusha, we didn’t only settle the issue of mandates but we also dealt with the hypocrisy that had afflicted our society since independence. We embraced our differences and today’s problem is about an individual who simply failed to respect the social pact that Burundians agreed to uphold.

Each country has its history and rules that govern the peace. In Burundi, it is the Arusha Accord which divides power between the Hutu and Tutsi. As someone once said, “the scenario was excellent” but the casting of actors is bad.

In Burundi, it’s unity in diversity. Let’s hope it stays that way.

In Rwanda you chose a different path, it is working and I hope it will remain that way.

Once the dust settles in Burundi, I promise to develop cultural exchanges between Rwandans and Burundians. It is long overdue.

George Ndikumwami

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