By Karl-Chris R. Nsabiyumva

*Thinking out loud*

At a Myles Munroe (R.I.P 🙁 ) conference the other day, while he was praying to close the meeting, he said something like “Lord I pray that you reveal the next generation of Burundi’s presidents in this room…” and several people were like “AMEN!”… Just after he said, “I pray that you reveal the next generation of competent judges and lawmakers…” and then silence… nobody shouted “Amen”… Hah!

Sasa, I ask myself, how come everybody wants to become President and nothing else? I’m not saying this just because of what happened at the meeting, but I’ve actually never met anyone who aspires to become let’s say, a Minister, Vice-President, Head of Parliament, Head of the Secret Service, or something not as prestigious (but important nevertheless) as President. I was telling my friend the other day that I’d be content with becoming Mayor of Bujumbura, and he told me I should “dream bigger.” Umh?!
Canke hoho, how many Presidents of Burundi can there be in one generation? I myself used to “dream” of becoming President, but then I realised that there are so many other people who want the job that I became less interested in it. I figured there are surely a few fellows out there who are more competent than I am who should get the job and get to deal with the stress that comes with it.
But then I ask myself. Why do people want to become President? Does it have to do with the position and the prestige that comes with it, or the desire to see Burundi become a better place? The question I often want to ask people when I hear them talk about what an awesome president they would be is, what if somebody else became President and took Burundi the places you want to take it? Would you be okay with that?

See, when somebody only aspires to become the top man/woman, it makes me wonder how he or she thinks things work, or what kind of change he or she could bring if he or she were in that position. It makes me wonder what they would do or how far they would go to get there. It makes me wonder where they think change comes from: from State House or from the people? I know they say umwera uva hejuru ugakwira igihugu cose, but does this mean that change is only possible from the top? I’m just wondering.

I had a small argument with a friend the other day when he threw trash on the sidewalk. Not long before that I had heard him blaming the city council for doing a very poor job at keeping Bujumbura clean. Mama ngo there are no rubbish collection and street cleaning services. Okay. But imagine we all decided one day not to throw any rubbish on the streets… can you see the difference that would make, even without city council cleaning services? Who is responsible after all?

Now imagine our justice system was independent, incorruptible and fair, regardless of whether or not we had a good president… who makes the justice system incorruptible and fair? Is it the President or is it the people in the system? I know what you’re going to say: it’s hard to be fair when the system you’re working in is not. Okay, but how can we expect that a person who was not fair in a small position will be fair in a bigger one? Or if you won’t hesitate to pay that policeman 5000Fbu to get away with a traffic offence, why should I believe you when you say you’re going to eradicate corruption when you “reach up there”? Are you trying to tell me that things get easier as you move up in ranks? “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16: 10)

I wonder if people realise the responsibilities that come with being President. Or maybe I’m the one making a big deal out of things? I mean, the guy is expected to look out for the interests of the country while, at the same time, “protecting” the people who supported his campaign, keeping good relations with the “international community”, managing the haters also known as the opposition, AND looking out for himself! Can people feel how heavy this job must be? Well, I’m no political expert, but from watching “Scandal” and “House of Cards” I’ve gathered that the job must be a real pain in the behind!

The other day I tweeted that there are so many things I don’t believe in anymore that I’m starting to wonder if I’m normal. One of them is this recent “leadership” movement. Don’t get me wrong, I love being told that I don’t have to be the strongest or smartest to be the leader of a pack… I even pay money to hear people tell it to me. And there are good speakers out there who actually teach you something!
What sort of bothers me is that we all want to become Martin Luther Kings, Mother Theresas, Nelson Mandelas, Barack Obamas, Paul Kagames… not forgetting those who want to become Beyoncés and Ophrah Winfreys. I feel like nobody is talking about how important it also is to be the people who work for these “heroes”. I mean, what is a leader without a follower? What is a President without a policy maker, or a Minister to make sure the policy is implemented? What is a presidential candidate without a campaign manager? What is a foundation without a donor, or a funds manager? What is a Mandela without a Winnie? What is a Beyoncé without her dad?

Maybe it’s the definition of “leader” that we’re not getting right? Maybe we misunderstood leader as the person at the top of everything, when really it’s about the qualities (of the leader) that we should demonstrate in our everyday lives? This would explain why many people I meet in many leadership forums have nothing leader-like about them… Or maybe they go to the meetings to learn how to become better people? Sinzi vrema

It strikes me that everybody seems to want to be the leader of the pack and nobody wants to be a member of the pack (not even the people who think that leadership conferences are a waste of money and time). To be honest, I wouldn’t mind being a simple member of a pack, if I’m satisfied with the leadership. Would you? I mean, who wants to be blamed for all the problems in the World, when they can contribute to a cause behind the scenes (by being a follower) and continue to live their life in tranquillity? I’m just wondering.

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

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