By Karl-Chris R Nsabiyumva

About three days ago a Rwandan tweep (meaning: twitter peep, for those who are not familiar with the lingo) sort of made fun of how (wealthy, according to me) Burundians have been flogging to Kigali to watch 3D movies. I – true to myself and my country – had to tweet back reminding how Rwandans be coming down to Bujumbura for our beaches and nightlife. She tweeted back “invites you to Diner en Blanc” (Kigali hosted the first African all-white diner last year, and I’m assuming another one is on the way), and I was like “Pff, takes off to Blue Bay on a high speed boat”. She favourite my tweet and that was the end of our mini-war. However, a few hours later I realised that I should have tweeted back: “INVITES YOU TO TEDx ROHERO!”… Because yes, we had a TEDx, they haven’t! Hah! *does a victory dance*

Warning! Please note that there were no hard feelings or intentions to harm or mock behind this little exchange of tweets. Don’t y’all start hating on each other! Ndabazi!

So August 21st 2013 shall be marked as the day Burundi hosted its first (hoping there are many more to come) TEDx event. I was there; and so were 99 other people, young and old, Burundians and non-Burundians. Anybody who was there will testify that the 10,000 BIF entrance fee was very much worth it! I must however confess that I was pretty sceptical about the whole thing in the beginning; some of the organisers may even tell you about my pretty “aggressive” (with no intention to harm though) way of expressing my concerns, Hah!

My scepticism was based on the choice of speakers; not all of them, just a few. I also thought there should have been more speakers, but somebody explained to me that some may have bailed out at the last minute. Lame! Anyway, the theme being “Redefining Burundi”, I was expecting faces we are not used to seeing representing success and/or community development in Burundi. You know, people who aren’t in the spotlight but have done and are still doing great things nonetheless. But you know what? After listening to each of the speakers’ stories I realised that they did somehow redefine Burundi in the sense that they demonstrated that not all Burundians are just sitting there waiting for help (the common belief). They testified that there are people out there with willpower and passion strong enough to reach for their dreams and move things… Like how many of you know that Marguerite Barankitse – whom people used to call a mad woman – has built over 3000 homes for orphans across Burundi? Or that Gérard Niyondiko spent 6 years applying and reapplying (after unsuccessful applications) for scholarships to pursue his Chemistry studies (to gain the skills to build the soap factory of his dreams)? Now, isn’t that inspiring? And redefining? I really hope everyone gets to see the videos AND SHARE THEM!

… And I want to congratulate the work of the team that organised the whole thing. It’s not obvious to set up something that big when you have other important things to take care of and when you have people *cough* like me *cough* in your ears telling you that you’re not doing something right. Vraiment, bravo! But I still want a TEDx with anonymous yet hardworking people like Serge Vyisinubusa (okay, locally he may not be that anonymous), Françoise Nibizi (don’t laugh if you know this is my mother, LOL!) or that kid who started a radio station in Gitega (whatever happened to him and his radio?)… This is just my humble opinion (one of many, many LOL!); but then again, YAY to Burundi’s first TEDx!

Karl-Chris currently lives and works in Bujumbura. You can check him out at misterburundi.wordpress.com and follow him on Twitter: Mr_Burundi