Day 40

This article was first published on the 4th of June 2015, on

I lay in my bed last night, like every other night since all this started, wondering how on earth we ended up in this mess. Just before connecting my phone to the charger I checked my twitter timeline one last time, and that’s when I saw Pacifique Nininahazwe’s tweet. Tomorrow, well, today is the fortieth day of demonstrations against Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term as President of the Republic. 40 flippin’ days! For many folks out there this means 40 days of waking up every morning ready to face teargas and live bullets, not sure whether they’ll be lucky enough to make it through to the next day. 40 days of saying NO to a man who sees it fit to keep on playing football every evening like it’s a normal day while people die a few kilometres away from his home and others in refugee camps across the borders, all this because he’s too… argh! I just can’t…

Yesterday as I lay in bed, thousands of kilometres away from a home that I had to flee, I asked myself whether all this is worth it. For me, personally. My life over the past 40 days has revolved around the flippin’ third term. My personal messages, my social media activity, conversations I have with random people (even foreigners when they realize where I’m from)… the other night I even dreamt one of my very good friends was getting married and had to have his wedding reception in Canada because Bujumbura wasn’t safe anymore! Imagine! The third term and everything about it have taken over my life, and I know I’m not the only one suffering from this. It’s sad.

So as I lay in bed I asked myself why… Why did I let this get to me so deep? Why do I care and why should I care? It’s just politics after all!

A friend of mine once tweeted that it’s impossible not to care about politics in Burundi. Politics are everywhere. When you wake up in the morning and there’s no water to shower, there are politics behind. When you switch on your car to go to work and your tank is almost empty because petrol stations are not selling gas, there are politics behind. When you arrive at work unhappy because the new director, who’s totally incompetent, only got the job because he’s very active in “the party”, that’s politics too. When you go to the bank and the teller is rude due to pretty much the same frustrations that affect you, politics still! When you listen to the news at midday, nothing but bad (or sugar coated, depending on what station you listen to) news… politics! In the evening, when you want to buy fruits to take home and prices have shot up “kubera OBR”… politics! And at night when electricity goes off before you’ve had a chance to charge your phone… politics! They are everywhere!

Ten years ago when Peter Nkurunziza and his CNDD-FDD came to power, everybody, including myself though I was quite young (just seventeen), everybody hoped that things were finally going to get better in Burundi. After over ten years of civil war and a stagnant economy led by corrupt military dictatorships, we dreamt that we were finally going to breath. Hah! Dreams! We got the peace alright – well, the ones causing trouble had gotten what they wanted – but that was all. And I wouldn’t even call what we got “peace” since safety was only guaranteed for those who didn’t publicly speak out against the “leadership” and its dodgy tactics.
Well, we got other things too, like empty promises i.e. Nkurunziza’s zero tolerance to corruption statement and many development initiatives that never happened or were done in half. We got mediocrity, embraced low standards and lost the little values the war had been kind enough to leave us as a people.

And this is why I am against the third term. I cannot take five more years of Nkurunziza and his system! Kick him out through elections, they say. Haha, I laugh! Elections organized by whom? The most corrupt election body on the planet? No thank you! Luckily for us, members of the Commission have begun to quit one by one, proving the world that it is not an organization to be trusted. Just like the Constitutional court who ruled Nkurunziza’s race for a third term legal, just a few days after its Vice-President confessed that members of the Court were under pressure and threats to agree with whatever Nkurunziza’s administration dictated them. There is no single Burundian Institution that can be trusted anymore. That’s a fact. But above all that, how can we even talk about elections when somebody who is not allowed by the Law to compete is permitted to? What does allowing that say about respecting our fundamental law? What do we have to count on for the survival of our Nation if we can’t count on the Constitution?

You know what’s funny? Had CNDD-FDD made it easy for everyone and presented another candidate for this year’s Presidential elections, nobody would have complained about the whole electoral process, and those who would have wouldn’t have gained as much support as the anti third term movement has. CNDD-FDD would have won the elections and their corrupt system would have prevailed for at least five more years. But they were too greedy. Nkurunziza sent a bullet right through their feet, now the whole system is standing in the spotlight, ready to crumble, which I’m certain it will, sooner or later.

Yesterday night I went to bed with a renewed confidence that we were fighting a good fight. This is a battle for our dignity! We deserve better and we will get better! I know we will!


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