“Remember to come home early”, these rumors that ruin our lives

Rumors, gossip, what people say, especially if they are linked to the security of the country, keep the Burundian on the lookout. Internet users would not have missed the rumors on the web linked to a coup d’état which, supposedly, was being prepared. True or false ? The Interior Ministry denied these rumors about its compte. The President of the Republic too, this September 24.

For many Burundians, 1993, 1988, 1972, etc., remain etched in their memories. And certain events put the country and its poor inhabitants back on alert. Your nerves are on edge, your heart is on the verge of a heart attack and to top it all off, the famous little phrase: “Muribuka gutaha kare” (Remember to come home early, Editor’s note), ends up finishing you off.

In our DNA, the Burundian is always on the lookout, ready to flee. What do we want to ask of a people who, overnight, the neighbor has become the executioner, the husband, the enemy to be destroyed, and the teacher, the torturer?

A note to the new generation

I am part of this generation which has not really experienced war. Like the majority of Burundians (2/3 of the Burundian population are under 25 years old, or 65%), listening to the stories lived during these years is like a session by the fire, tales from the Brothers Grimm. A colleague told me that when he was in the 8th year of secondary school, his high school was attacked, and the Hutu and Tutsi students were forced to divide. He had to choose his side. At such a young age, he was introduced to hatred, to death, to flight. Such stories in Burundi are legion.

How then can we enable the younger generation, Uburundi bw’ejo, not to suffer from the “Remember to return early”? Is it up to parents who are still traumatized, who still live with the fear in their stomachs of seeing enemies come, machetes in hand, clubs and cans of gasoline to send them to the kingdom of Hades, to preserve them? I think the answer borders on the negative. However, they have their role to play: teaching the child the true history of the country, the one that has shaped what we are today. But still, we should be careful not to lock the latter into this painful political-ethnic past. We will, please, avoid that every evening, at the table, ethnicity is the only conversation that accompanies dinner.

The Burundian people are stuck in their past. We are bruised, with wounds that won’t heal. To be able to move forward and focus on the development of the country, we will have to seek treatment: get diagnosed, receive the remedy, take the time to heal without relapsing again. But this will only be possible if we accept that we are sick.

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