Two days ago we commemorated the 24th anniversary of President Melchior Ndadaye’s assassination. After reading a couple of Twitter/Facebook posts about this anniversary, I felt compelled to give my two cents.

I have often watched in dismay how, despite claiming the opposite, most of our young activists on both sides of the Burundi Crisis still harbor the outdated way of thinking that I would usually expect from some of our elders. It is actually a true pet peeve of mine whenever I see a youngster claiming to be educated, modern and progressive have views/opinions about the current crisis that are clearly dictated by their ethnic belonging, while being absolutely oblivious to this fact themselves. This goes also for those who assume, based on what supposed to be one’s ubwoko, what your position or opinion should be with regards to Burundi politics. This, in most cases, leads to their being outraged, absolutely offended when they realize you don’t fit into that mold they were trying to put you into.

In Burundi, we honor and commemorate 2 national heroes whom I thought met the consensus of most of our people.

Simple Definition of HERO: “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.” (Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary)

I find it utterly disrespectful and unacceptable for anyone to ever question either Rwagasore’s or Ndadaye’s hero status. Both men have inspired millions of Burundians who have every right to celebrate them as their heroes. And I really cannot fathom how can anyone suggest that Ndadaye had a hand in the massacres of thousands Tutsi after his death. In my opinion, beside smearing his name, this is an outrageous insult to his memory and to every decent Murundi aharanira amahoro n’agateka ka zina muntu kuri BOSE. Also, you should make sure you have irrefutable proof to substantiate these more than serious accusations. Above all, its shows a dangerous close-mindedness that has gotten our beloved country into the abyss it is currently in. This gets even more painful when the rhetoric comes from so-called “abajeunes”, our country’s future leaders.

One cannot help but wonder where we are headed as a nation with this kind of youth. Just for comparison, if this does not worry you, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr, the non-violence civil rights activist was a dangerous and hateful man if you ask the whites extremists from KKK; and Nelson Mandela, yes that iconic anti-Apartheid Leader, to those who wanted to keep the black people of South Africa under Apartheid rule, was a dangerous terrorist. Just ponder this.

What upset me the most is that this kind of rhetoric gives talking points to the current regime and its horde of killers by supporting their ridiculous and cynical argument that this crisis is here because of some nostalgic tutsi who can’t fathom to be ruled by “intwaro yitorewe n’abanyagihugu”. Remember, Nkurunziza thrives on dividing Abarundi and you are only strengthening him by promoting this kind of hate based theories.

So, dear activist, if you think fighting Nkurunziza’s dictatorship by using this offensive denial of dignity to the first democratic elected president of Burundi, or dismissing other people’s pain and grief just kubera mudahuje ubwoko, unfortunately you are serving his cause. Instead of being a part of the solution, you are a major part of the problem. You should get informed, learn about akahise k’u Burundi, baze abagukurira hama, maybe then you will be able to lead a better fight for a fair and peaceful Burundi that we all longing for.

I like to think that this being 2017, with a lot of us having traveled all over the place and some even currently living abroad, we should be a much more open-minded bunch thriving to promote the ideas of tolerance, the fact that all people are created equal. Instead, I am seeing a lot of fanatics from both sides leading the way in activism which is clearly terrifying and could suggest a grim future for our country.

Let’s rise above this outdated and dangerous mindset once for all. Also, let’s agree to disagree, RESPECTFULLY. And oh, a little more sympathy toward one another would be nice. Yeah, a little idealistic, I know…

By Irene Inabantu

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