Like most Burundian kids in their mid-20s, I was pretty young when the 1993 crisis started. I’d be lying if I said I remember specific moments of those terrific nights that I wish could be part of history by now (for those of you who still think war is over in Burundi, you could use a reality check #NoPoliticsHere #FactsOnly)… But somehow, somewhere in that 3, 4, 5 years-old brain, images, sounds, feelings were stored and shaped the rest of my life. Without knowing it, the atmosphere I evolved in, the ambiance at home, have had a tremendous impact on the young adult I am now. I know I’m not the only one out here living abroad who gets chills and kind of freaks out a little bit (on the inside) when some fireworks are being shot in the city (Come on, admit it! The first time you heard them, you almost ran away or started looking for a place to hide! I know I did).
It’s funny how life unfolds itself and it’s only years later that you get to understand, or at least think you understand, what your life is about… I sometimes wonder if life itself makes sense… Or is the point of living it to discover its purpose as it goes? I know life is a journey but seriously, I could use some tips every now and then (you know, like a GPS of some sort). Anyway, I’m not here to talk about life and its purpose (I hate philosophy by the way… Like what is beauty and those other so “fundamental questions”… No offense to anyone, including my Philo teachers)… I’m here to talk about the adults we are supposed to be today, wherever we may be by now, whether it’s in Burundi, elsewhere in Africa or around the globe.
We were sent into this adult life with a mix and match of information on how to get a degree, a job and especially with a bag of values that are very specific to our culture (I will always be truly thankful Ma’). But then comes ‘real life’, where those tips given just don’t apply, where those values are shaken up so badly you actually wonder whether they even made sense in the first place… Wait.. Maybe it’s the world we live in that makes no sense anymore? …Have we become animals? Have we forgotten all the values and manners given to us by our mothers and fathers, sisters and so on? I sometimes wonder if it’s possible to go by those values, and especially, the expectations and burdens that are put on our shoulders, and at the same time still live in the current environment while accomplishing our goals and dreams (duh, what would be the point sinon?)…
I refuse to believe that I can not make my parents proud if I go ahead and chase my dreams and follow my actual guts. When did we say getting a job meant becoming a doctor or lawyer? Where did we say having a family meant a man and woman married with at least 3 kids? (Don’t lie, you know people judge those who have kids before marriage and those who get married and don’t have kids… And I’m not talking about religion here, so no need to mention it). I mean seriously, when did living one’s life become such a public affair?
I hope our young brothers and sisters get to live a freer and more fulfilling life than we do. I have the feeling that our generation’s plans got lost in between our parents’ lives and our actual dreams. That’s just my personal opinion.
So go Burundians, be free, be smart, have values, work hard, love harder and never stop dreaming big!
Cheers from a young woman still trying to sort this whole “I wanna live my life just the way I feel it and still make you proud Ma” situation!
Gigi currently lives and works in Canada
(Photo by Aristide Muco)