By Doriane Irakoze Baribwegure

It was a beautiful day. With beautiful people.

It was a family day. They are the most beautiful days ever. We talk, we laugh, we dance… I just love them. They fill my heart with joy. And then you know every party has an after party… So we were just chilling in the garden catching up and laughing and all during our after party. I don’t know how we started talking about serious things and events and our country, and from nowhere someone asked who attended the TEDx event. I was like ME! Then I started telling how the TEDx event was very interesting, inspiring and just a success (at least according to me and I enjoyed every bit of it). Then they asked me what TEDx is? What is the main goal of TEDx?

So I started explaining. TEDx’s main goal: to redefine Burundi. Through speakers; their journeys, their experiences, people who are considered as icons. People who started from nothing but who have created something out of that nothing. Speakers from TEDx are supposed to be our inspiration, ideas are supposed to grow; when you listen to them you are supposed to dream. I thought I was explaining something important, but before I realized it, it had turned into something else.

“So you are telling us that we have to pay a certain amount of money to go and sit somewhere and just listen to people?” I was like “YEEESSSS very much! Because those people are going to tell you the story of their unending journey and maybe you’ll get inspired or get an idea to start your own journey.” They laughed at me. And then they asked again: “What does the money they collect do?” I was like “Euhm, you know what, I have no idea.” (But I knew that to organize an event takes a lot of funds and time and everything. So for me it was clear that the money I paid was for a good cause and well spent money). Then that’s when the fire begun… I was alone arguing with a bunch of people. For them TEDx was an inappropriate event for Burundi. “People in our country need money, they need food; they need help, etc etc. If TEDx was an association that helps people with food, money, builds schools etc it would’ve been appropriate and perfect. But now TEDx is just something that is there and doesn’t do much for Burundians.” According to them we don’t need someone like Mrs Kigoma to tell us how she started Fruito. No, we need her to give us the Fruito (for free will be perfect)! We don’t need to hear about Maggie from Maison Shalom and her challenges! Ooooh do not even talk about Ikena… first of all where is he from?! And he came all the way to Burundi just to tell his story?! Naah. “Ohh, someone discovered a soap against malaria?! Wait why don’t I know about it? I just recovered from malaria. LOL! Who’s Roland? Ooohh he is a funny guy! At least he brought back stories of Samandari… Ooh how they are funny the stories of Samandari and Inarunyonga.”  So these are the kinds of comments I was bombarded with…

I love my people, but they got it ALL WRONG!

Burundians very much need people to motivate them, to inspire them to work and make something for themselves instead of always seeking for help sometimes without even trying. Until when are we going to be “Sayidiya Papa”?! TEDx is another kind of help! The kind of help that doesn’t give you money or food, but lessons, stories, experiences. It’s like a school just that they don’t give assignments and conduct exams. If you choose to, you can learn a lot actually. We all want to be rich, but no one wants to start from the bottom, work and sweat for it. There is this proverb in Kirundi that I love very much “Inzira za hafi zamaze abatwa” (the short route drove the Batwa to their demise). It is so true! No shortcut is going to take you where you want to go! We need to stand for ourselves, to focus, to redefine ourselves and our country. People from the outside are just amateurs watching and we are the players. Let’s be smart here, they are not going to be here for forever!

Stand up my dear, start your journey; take it one step at a time. It’s not going to be easy. You will fail, you’ll get tired, people will discourage you, convince you that you are crazy and wrong, you’ll feel like giving up. But remember if you fail keep doing it again and again until you get it right. Don’t ever listen to people who say you are crazy. If you are tired, take a break… Rome wasn’t built in one day. But never give up. They say: “It doesn’t matter how many times we fall, what matters is how many times we stand up, shake it off and move forward.”

A lot happens in one’s life! Good and Bad. And no matter how good or bad they both teach us a lesson or they are experiences or adventures that build us and make us stronger. There is no appropriate event or opportunity. Learn from everything, and most of all take time and listen to our elders. They have seen it all, they have been there, they have been young and they have been you.

“Do not miss a chance, an opportunity or a gift just because it’s not packaged as you expected it.”

Doriane currently lives and works in Bujumbura

Photo from TEDx Rohero