By Faustin L Kanuma
Photo by Guy Basabose

Lately one of my highlights every morning when I wake up is logging in to WhatsApp messenger. See we have this group forum which the administrator aptly named “Abarundi”. The group is made up of eight members and we like to chat about almost everything. Gossip, politics, business, banter…you name it. The stage gets set when the solo female member (we are not male chauvinists, it has to be stressed) writes “good morning e’rrrbody”. After all the members have put in their output, we are ready to attack the day with vigour.

I have taken to Burundi like a duck to water! I’m enjoying it here and I’m proud to be part of Abarundi. But it was not the case a few years ago when I first came here through Ruhwa border (I was in Cyangugu/Rwanda when I decided to come to Burundi).

When I crossed the Rusizi River those years ago, I thought I was at worse making a step down or at least a step sideways from my assumed “lofty” perch in Rwanda. Didn’t like it. Didn’t like the laid back attitude. Didn’t like the heat and humidity. Didn’t enjoy the “compulsory” siestas in that heat. Didn’t like the late breakfasts. Felt extremely uncomfortable and wary in the way Burundians casually dress down their public figures in public; in buses, in the markets, in bars, in eateries and so on! Most times I had an uneasy feeling that this public dressing down was more personal than political.

As I grudgingly settled in, I slowly started noticing the finer things in Burundi/ans. The miles and miles of crystalline sand beaches. The juicy, tasty, delicious fish of which some like the incomperable Mukeke and Saumnette are endemic to Lake Tanganyika. I also noticed a gradual behavioral shift. No longer was business paralysed for two hours from mid-day every working day as people closed shop for lunch and a little siesta. Breakfast nowadays is a quick affair contrary to the leisurely easy episodes that was the habit when I first came here.

I also noticed that Burundians are a very proud and patriotic people. I was overjoyed when one Burundian blogger replied- point by point- to a piece by a “prominent” East African journalist dissing Burundi. The article to me looked poor, unresearched, weird and downright arrogant!

But the cherry on top of my Burundian cake however, has to be that this country provided me with the mother to my two absolutely beautiful daughters! I came here a lonely insecure bachelor. I found love, got married and became a father.

I’m proud to be part of Abarundi. Thank you Burundi!

Faustin currently lives and works in Bujumbura. Follow him at flkanuma.wordpress.com and on Twitter: @FaustKan