As the world watches in awe what’s happening in Burundi, I feel we can do something to help our brothers and sisters who are perishing due to mean and selfish leadership. We have been taught as East African youths, we have been taught of possible risks that could hinder our countries and we have been taught of the conflicts that could affect us as I remember from the peace and security training we underwent. How can we as the youth come together and put what we were taught into practice? How can our East African leaders help us use some of what we were taught in order to help Burundi?
The moment the announcement of President Pierre Nkurunziza running for third term in the 2015 presidential elections was made, the announcement sparked protests by those opposed to Nkurunziza. Since Nkurunzinza got into power in 2005 after the civil war, poverty remained a major problem and according to the World Bank over 60% of Burundians don’t have enough food, the country’s government doesn’t have enough money to fund needed programs and the economy is reliant on coffee.
87 people were killed in a violence that broke out after three military sites were attacked on Friday 11th/12/2015. Eight of the 87 people who were killed were security officers and forty nine people are said to have been captured Said Col Gaspard Baratunza.
Bodies of men were found on the streets said residents of the capital and accused the police of seeking revenge. The unrest which has hit Burundi since April seems to be worsening. Burundi needs a helping hand, Burundi needs us and Burundi am sure wants us to help. People in Burundi are disappointed and I can say this is a missed opportunity for the East African Community to address this issue. The Militia groups that are said to be from the side of the groups contesting for these elections should be disarmed.
Remember that the unrest in Burundi can happen anywhere it can happen to anyone how would we want to be helped if it happened to us? Would we be happy if the world just looked on and did nothing to come to our rescue? Burundi may not have Minerals, no Oil but Burundi people have blood, they are human and a single stab they bleed just like anyone else would bleed. Let’s be good neighbors, let’s help Burundi out of this crisis. Joint hands, joint heads can help stop this madness. The Burundi situation was foreseen so it’s sad that we could not control it before it got this far.
It has not been easy for journalists to do their informative job as they end up being killed so local journalists have been silent on the matter due to the fear of being torched.
Christophe Nkezabahizi a journalist and his whole family were shot dead in the capital. Due to this, people have resulted to taking pictures with their phones and sharing with all social media so that the rest of the people who are not in Burundi can get a glimpse of the situation in Burundi otherwise no one would know as for even now the world knows there is unrest but they don’t really know how serious it is. Friends in Burundi have shared pictures and each time a picture comes in it’s a picture of a dead body either shot, beaten or stabbed and tied up.
Like its close neighbor Rwanda, Burundi has also had a dark past. In Rwanda it wasn’t called genocide but in the 1990’s hundreds of thousands of people died in ethnic violence between Hutus and Tutsi.
At least now we can say the violence is not based on ethnicity but it’s so much connected to Africa’s new fever “The third termism” where presidents are defying the constitution by forcefully acquiring a third term without even caring what their citizens want and when things go wrong they watch violence in their comfort zones.
This sickness is sweeping the continent from Congo, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, from Rwanda to Burundi. Fear in Burundi has been expressed openly on social media, it’s been whispered to close communities of the capital of what could happen if this violence is not stopped.
Who is Nkurunzinza?
Born in 1964 and he was a rebel leader who later became the president of Burundi since 2005 till now. He is a born again Christian who cycles and plays football.
A former sports teacher, married with five children and his father I said to have been killed in the ethnic violence in 1972. Burundi’s constitutional court backed his argument that his first term in office did not count towards the two term limit as he was elected by Members of parliament.
Now it’s time for the East African heads to show leadership on the Burundi crisis. I personally feel the community has left Burundi out. African leaders are so silent about the situation in Burundi and it’s very sad because the same leaders want to handle their own problems and have warned the international community to stay away but what shows that we can handle our problems if Burundi crisis has only come to the attention of the world through social media? How can we only scream on social media but then sit back and relax when we know people are dying and need our help? How is AU helping in all this? Isn’t the cry loud enough? Is this how we are going to silence guns in Africa? My request to the East African community and East Africa at large is to try and fix the Burundi situation as soon as possible.
The East African youth can highlight what’s happening in Burundi on social media, let’s make the cries of Burundi heard and find solutions through this medium. Let’s get all East Africans know what’s happening in Burundi and that way we can brainstorm on how we can help the situation.
EAC as an institution has not done much to help though Uganda has been leading the negotiations but they have not been effective maybe because Uganda too is currently focused on elections hence not giving Burundi full attention. All I Know is Kenya has recently renewed its ambassador to Burundi, Tanzania is most likely the best country to lead these negotiations but then its undergoing reforms.
What can we the youth do? How are we going to do it? Let’s create awareness of the situation first of all and then from there follow up on what next. I hope many youths can join me on this.