Hello again reader!
This week, on the 5th of February, we celebrated the enactment of our Charter of National Unity, not long after some tensions on the political scene. So we decided to dedicate this week to reflecting about what it means to be Umurundi, and to dreaming… the “Burundian dream”…
During his Christmas break Alain Ndayishimiye asked 23 Burundians of the Diaspora about their Burundian dream (in spite of the political tensions our country may be going through). We have been sharing their answers with you since Monday, and this is the last part. Concurrently, Burundians across the World have been sharing their Burundian dream(s) using the #myBurundianDream hashtag on all social media platforms. The impact has been so large and beyond our expectations; so large the hashtag caught the attention of najor International News Channels! Join the movement, if you haven’t already! Let us light-up the flame of hope in all of us!
The TBL team
By Alain Ndayishimiye
When you think of a country’s dream, you almost always think of the American dream. In fact, I am yet to hear of an Indian Dream, a British Dream or a Zimbabwean dream for that matter. I remember during the 2008 elections, that expression was thrown around quite often in the media. With the economic crisis of 2008/2009, seemingly unattainable at the time, many questioned whether the “dream” was still alive and wondered if the idea itself was still relevant. While Burundi is no America, that cannot stop us from dreaming. We may dream differently but we still do in fact dream. When I think about the Burundian dream, I do not think it the same way Americans think of theirs. But that is just me. How do other Burundians think of it? Is it something they think about? If so, what are some of the things that come to their minds when they do? Over the Christmas holiday, I set out to find answers. To feed my curiosity, I called up friends and family members and even reached out to some people I’ve never met. Truly, what I wanted to know was people’s hopes and dreams for our country. Aside from eye-opening and inspiring responses, I was moved by how passionately people spoke about Burundi. I often hear that Burundians are not patriotic people. They say we are not “proud” of our country. But, let me tell you something, going through people’s answers proved otherwise. Our country is beloved. Take a look!
I guess I have to say that …Walking one day without checking my back.
Burundi prides itself for being the heart of Africa (geographically), but the Burundi I want to see is the Burundi that is truly the heart of Africa in reality, a country that is culturally rich, developed in every aspect of life, politically stable, and free of all sorts of conflicts.
What is a Burundian dream? Or rather, what is my Burundian dream? Do I even have a Burundian dream? Is there such thing as Burundian dream? Should I have one? These are questions that immediately roamed my conscious as I deliberated about the subject. It might seem quite peculiar, but for a person who has never actually resided in his “home country,” I think those are legitimate questions to have. So, in the immediate aftermath of the question, I could not say what the answer was. This of course does not mean I do not think about the plight of my home country, and the possibility of a bright future. I simply did not have a Burundian dream.
The concept of a dream associated with one’s country, although one can check the accuracy of my statement, is usually associated with the United States, namely the American dream. It is a concept deeply rooted in the foundation of the “more perfect union,” but was more popularized in early 20th century when America experienced an unprecedented economic boom. At that point, it was believed that anyone who was talented and willing to work hard could become successful. The yardstick for success usually consisted of a good marriage, home ownership (preferably in the suburbs, but this is more so in late 60s), a decent wage, and saving for one’s children’s education and one’s own retirement. In any event, this is not an historical lesson, so allow me to fill you in on my Burundian dream, which is nothing compared to the American dream.
My Burundian dream is quite simple. Given our history of divisiveness, which has plagued the nation with half century of ethnic wars, the first part of a Burundian dream is to have a country with one identity. I always dream of a day when all Burundians will look past ethnic lines and work together for the betterment our country. I have a dream that one day, we will have a country where the rule of law is well respected by everyone, a country where a man is not incarcerated or killed because of his political views; a country where every child’s dream is to be a politician because that is the only way, albeit an dishonest way, to make a decent living; a country where everyone will have access to education, healthcare, and the basic human needs. Most of all, I have a dream to live in a country where everyone is proud to be called a BURUNDIAN!”
My Burundian dream is to be able to live in Burundi one day. To be home.
My dream is to see Burundi become a land of freedom, prosperity and opportunity, and a place where hard work pays off. I would also like to see a Burundi that is hunger and war free. “Life should be lived to the fullest by everyone regardless of circumstances of birth.”
True peace, reconciliation and development as well as incorruptible institutions.
I don’t really have one
My dream for Burundi is for Burundi to be a state where we have the rule of law. It seems Burundians are always looking for strong men who would put the country in the right order. However, what we really need, what we should all be looking and working for is strong laws.
I was blessed to see and live in Canada, a very peaceful, calm, and friendly country. When I ask myself what makes this country a great country that it is, I realise that it’s its strong laws. People don’t look for strong men the way we do in many african countries. There is no fanaticism and no cults of personalities here. It is generally calm.
I dream of a Burundi with a rule of law. A Burundi where human dignity is enshrined in its most fundamental laws. I believe that there is always a good set of laws that can guaranty stability and justice to everyone and give all the freedom to prosper. We should work to find good laws: laws which are clear, unambiguous, and wholesome. No one should feel forgotten by the law in any way and no one should feel a need to arm themselves in order to defend their fundamental human rights.
Alain currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter: @alainndayi