By Robert Burundi

So, yesterday I was reading It’s two o’clock (great article by the way! Kuddos Olenka!) about how we (the new generation) are preparing ourselves for the next big test for Burundians, i.e. the upcoming elections in 2015; and what each one of us is doing so that afterwards we don’t end up whining about the outcome when we could have done something ahead of time. This got me thinking; there seems to be something that our generation is missing, some kind of spark to wake us all up, to stimulate us…

The other day I was randomly reading (out of boredom really) the biographies of our first three presidents and I was struck by the fact the oldest at the time of accessing to power (regardless of how they got there) was only 38. It was Buyoya. The second youngest (Bagaza) was 31 when he ousted his predecessor, President Micombero.

Now this pal Micombero literally mesmerizes me. He was a little over a quarter of century, 26 years old to be exact, when he overthrew the then Monarch Ntare V (Charles Ndizeye). I mean, I will be 26 in less than 8 months and I can’t even dare picture myself with half the guts of doing anything remotely close of what he did. Monarchy by essence is construed as something that is untouchable, almost holy (according to the belief that they directly receive their power from God). Imagining an inexperienced young captain, fresh out of military school take on an institution such as the monarchy is something that I still can’t get my mind around. And no wonder he was the party animal they often portray him to be. I mean at 26 years old, our sense of responsibility is still burgeoning (I know it still won’t be in my case) and we still have these “partying impulses” rushing through our systems.

Now, I didn’t mention Prince Rwagasore who, before blowing the 30 candles on his royal cake, had accomplished as a leader, what in my opinion, all other Burundian leaders put together have never accomplished and are not remotely close to (y’all will agree with me) for the simple reason that I have always somehow thought that, seeing how he was the heir to the throne and as a member of the royal family, it was his royal duty to fight for his people and that he owed it to them. Come to think of it now, I couldn’t be more wrong. He was under no obligation to do so. He could’ve just laid back and enjoyed his opulent, lavish royal life; he most certainly was not the one enduring the ordeals imposed by the colonizing bazungu. Quite on the contrary, his fate and that of his family had been spared by the whites.

I guess what I am doing here is a comparison of generations at a certain point in their lives. It seems to me that ours has been infected by some lethal virus causing us to stay in some kind of dormant state (I’d even go as far as to say vegetative state) where we just live by, without deigning to raise a finger, always waiting for someone else to start something… and by “our generation”, I’m pointing at the 35 years old and under.

The saddest part is I’m not even seeing a cure to that virus. Many will certainly give me the old oh times have changed” things aren’t exactly what they were in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s and the circumstances were totally different. But I always wonder this; if we were to be transposed in that same era under the same circumstances, the era of the independences for example, would there be amongst us a Rwagasore to selflessly fight for our freedom, would we find young bold military officers (though their accomplishments are debatable) or mass mobilizers of the likes of Sankara (who also acceded to power at 34) with that kind of Audacity or guts? Hmm, allow to me have my doubts. And the funny thing is, the same people who were there supporting the young Micombero, Bagaza and Buyoya as they acceded to power, i.e. our parents and grandparents, will look at us today and call us too young (and sometimes immature) to be able to make a difference. Can anybody smell the double standards in the air? Or maybe they are right; maybe we are immature…

As I said in the beginning, there seems to be this spark (some will call it motivation) that keeps eluding us, making us passionless witnesses of our times rather than turning us into key players…

Another desperate passionless twenty some…

Robert currently lives and works in Bujumbura

(Photo: President Michel Micombero, source: wikipedia)