Wedged between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda in east-central Africa, Burundi occupies a high plateau divided by several deep valleys. It is equal in size to Maryland. The capital of Burundi is Bujumbura. The monetary unit is the Burundi franc. The three ethnic groups are Hutu(Bantu) 85%, Tutsi (Hamitic) 14%, and Twa (Pygmy) 1%. Religions include Roman Catholic 62%, indigenous 23%, Islam 10%, and Protestant 5%. Despite years of being battered through civil war, and the land yields agricultural commodities such as coffee, cotton, tea, corn, sorghum, sweet potatoes, bananas, manioc(tapioca), beef, milk, hides. The official languages are Kirundi and French.
Burundi is now recovering from over 40 years of ethnic violence between the Hutus and Tutsis which resulted in over 500,000 people being killed, including women and children, just in the last 12 years of civil war. The conflict arises from the transition from years of colonial oppression when the British favored the minority Tutsi population, giving them power and privileges over the majority Hutus, who build up years of resentment. In December 1999 Nelson Mandela was appointed by a group of African nations to act as a mediator in the tribal conflict. An accord was reached in 2000, but some aspects of the agreement were left incomplete. Since then peace accords have been proposed along with a constitution suggesting various ways that Tutsi and Hutu tribes could be represented proportionately.
|Click play to watch Tourists4Development’s tour of Bujumbara.Tourists4Development is a TV series to promote responsible tourism experiences and projects taking place in Africa, aimed at promoting a new way of travelling and showing people how to contribute to the development of local economies through tourism.
Ten of their short episodes take place in Burundi and offer a great introduction to the country. Enjoy!
Click here for more of T4D’s clips from Burundi.
None of these accords satisfied all the parties involved. In February 2005 the proposed constitution was overwhelmingly approved by Burundi’s voters. Since May 2006 there has been a ceasefire in place between the FDD (Forces for the Defense of the Democracy) and the FNL (Forces for National Liberation). Today Burundi enjoys a very fragile peace, needing the international community to support the people’s efforts in rebuilding this nation through peace, reconciliation, trauma healing, and building trust between the ethnic groups.
Because of these last years of civil war, 60% of the homes, as well as schools and hospitals, were completely destroyed. The country became a veritable wasteland as people took up arms against each other. Similar to what happened in Rwanda, Burundi saw no effective intervention from the international community.
There are many complex crises facing the people of Burundi and the Great Lakes Region today. Chronic poverty, AIDS, ongoing ethnic conflict, land destruction, water pollution, flooding each winter. These crises have resulted in the large scale displacement of people (many refugees living in displacement camps) and mass famine. Global Citizen Journey seeks ways to support Burundi in the reconstruction of this small nation as a way of impacting the Greater Lakes Region (Burundi, Rwanda, and the Congo) where over 8 million people have died in wars over the last 10 years.
Burundi News and Links
- From Bloodshed to Hope in Burundi
- Atlapedia Online: Burundi
- Tourists4Development: Short Videos from Burundi
- JRMD – Our Burundian Partner Organization