(Translated from French: Original text)

Human nature is an unfathomable mystery. We can always ask ourselves what pushes people to act or behave in a certain way, without ever finding a satisfactory answer. But we still have to try, because human behavior is a fascinating topic.

Take, for example: there is a neighborhood that I know well in Bujumbura: Kinindo. It’s a neighborhood that accommodates a wealthy class of Burundian citizens. Officers and non-commissioned Officers retired from the Army, successful Businessmen, Bankers, University Professors, BRB (Bank of the Republic of Burundi) Senior Staff, Lawyers, Judges, Senior Public and Private Sector Professionals, Expatriates working in NGOs, etc. In short, the best of the best. And yet! Of all the neighborhoods that are in this part of the city, it is the only one whose streets are not paved! Around it are Zeimet, Kabondo, Kinanira 3 and Kibenga… all have paved streets except Kinindo. Look, within Kinindo, some parts (including the former “Belgian Quarter”) benefited from the paving project, but most of the neighborhood has seen this change pass under its nose, and is now claiming its share. Twist of fate, you say? So I asked. And the answers were surprising.

Some people argued that cobbled streets damage their cars much more than dirt streets. They wanted the tarmac. Just that!
Others have never trusted the system and were sure that their money would be diverted. Please note that, given the context, the first contributions began in 2000; so this has nothing to do with the corruption of the CNDD-FDD system, but rather with the system that preceded it.
Others said that 100.000 FBu at the time (amount that each household had to pay) was too much money. Then there are those who contributed and who, 16 years later, are still waiting on the returns on their investment. “Kubera bafise ababanyi b’ibigaba”.

My thoughts:

– So a cobbled street would damage your vehicle? A vehicle that you change on average every 4 years! Question: What value has the home in which you live when your streets undergo this change? A house you’re surely going to live in for the next 30 years, or sell, or bequeath to your children.
– You did not ask any guarantee on the risk of diversion for you did not go to any of the meetings concerning the paving project in your neighborhood. Sitting in your comfortable observation armchair, observing the turpitude of the crowd, you had already decided that something was wrong in all that fuss, and that you would not be part of it. You were above all that. You saw far, you were educated and demanding. Enlightened. “Sindumuja”?
– But in fact, between 2000 and 2016, did you try finding out if you could spread the payment of 100.000 Fbu, or did the “100.000Fbu, it’s huge!” position satisfy your lack of team spirit and solve the problem for good?

It’s pretty funny to see the same people who did not want the paving yesterday regret their choices today. It’s quite sad to see the most educated people live on the fringes of everything that does not STRICTLY suit their vision or does not preserve their comfort. But in fact, Kinindo, its paving project, and some of its inhabitants are a small representation of a society whose leadership is ill. A society in need of bearings. A society where many would love change that meets their requirements but do not provide the necessary effort to influence this change. A society where “many want to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die”, was said in a short video that I watched yesterday on my phone. In short, many generals and not enough soldiers.

– Your country is your home, with the only difference that you do not have the right to sell your country and that you “have to” bequeath to your children. If the changes that must occur [and they will come whether you like it or not, whether you take part or not] jostle your little personal comfort, your work, your habits, your hobbies and sometimes your ideas, know that it’s a sacrifice you have to make for the good of the entire community. Refusing this sacrifice has nothing to do with the Sindumuja spirit but much more with a form of self-centeredness that does not do justice to education and privileges that were granted to you.

– Why continue to be a youth that puts up with everything? One that criticizes everything and everyone and never takes part in anything, and that is still complaining about the system and the opposition to the system (in bars, on messaging, in conversations… It does not stop! All we do is complain!). Nothing is good enough, everything is disposable. And then what? Do you really believe that someone will ask for your opinion when during the course of change and “ownership of the change” you singled yourself out? And who will listen to your criticism if you do not give a bit of yourself to the community? How will you convince people to join your way of seeing and understanding the world if you can not give your time for tasks that you probably find mundane, but which are vital for the life of the group, the society or the emergence of a vision purified from defects inherent to any change?

– 100.000 Fbu is nothing and it’s a lot at the same time. To the impossible, none is held. But how do you explain that when a contribution is required to defend and advance a project or a common cause, some decide that they simply are too poor to give anything? Even those who have demands on the Burundi of tomorrow do not want to risk anything, give anything. In fact, they do not want to risk being wrong. They want everything to be perfect before doing anything. Very truly I tell you, those never act, as nothing is ever perfect. They will always find a pretext to refuse to get involved.

We are at a crossroads. The future is both somber and carrier of a lot of hope. Men and women will have to sacrifice themselves so that others may live. Some have already offered the ultimate sacrifice. We must show our utmost respect. We must move forward with those who want it. In front of us, unspeakable crimes and ideology must be defeated once and for all in our country and in the entire region. A racist worldview that has already made millions of victims among us and our neighbors. And faced with this ideology, the daily crimes being committed, some are asking questions they should have asked in July 2015, and to which they should have found answers to! By searching well! But then, one has to actually follow and be interested.

“You want to lead one day? Then learn how to follow “.

By Lionel Sunshine. Check out his blog: lionelsunshine.wordpress.com and follow him on Twitter: @Lionel_SN