She was a smart student, and not because all parents say they were. I actually stumbled upon some of her high school transcripts one day, and they were spotless. I was pleasantly surprised (not to say that I expected her to be dumb or anything). She could have become a scientist, an engineer, a doctor or something… if her mother hadn’t asked her to go to nursing school instead. She was the second (and most responsible, dare I say) child in a family of nine. Her single mum needed help – read, an extra income – to take care of the little ones. Therefore, she couldn’t afford an education that lasts “forever”, asking for money, instead of making it… so she “had” to get into the workforce as soon as possible. Besides, if she had been “too educated”, she probably would have “scared” potential husbands away: if people say that today, imagine what it must have been like 30 years ago…
Anyway, a few years after nursing school and a job, she met papa, got married… and a few years later – aged 22 – she had me (and a few years later, my brother).

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On not being taken seriously

I was a fat kid growing up. I wasn’t obese, but I wasn’t slim either. I remember I weighed 56kgs when I turned 10 years old. And I hated any sports that required me to run, meaning pretty much all ball games except baseball, and tennis a little bit. Although I did (and loved) Karate, (I was a green belt when I stopped aged ten. It was when we moved back to Burundi from Kenya. I tried to resume when I was about twelve or thirteen but the training at the club I was in was too intense. It was like we were training to be Samurais or something. Mxim)… Anyway, so although I did and loved Karate, I was quite “soft” and hated anything violent. I still do. Arguments and foul language make me cringe. As a kid, I never understood the point of games like Kanyama (the kid who made the stick planted in a little mount of sand drop, had to run to a designated area while dodging the slaps of other kids). Mbo, I also wasn’t a fast runner (remember I was heavy), so the odds of enjoying those games were pretty low for me. Haha!

Being fat, soft and clumsy at popular sports made me look weak. To make matters worse, as a teenager I didn’t drink nor smoke, and my strict parents weren’t very accommodating as far as going out was concerned. The introvert that I was however didn’t mind being a stay-at-home kid. I was only bothered when my peers made fun of my “kwugaranwa”. Mais bon…

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#AbandiBana (my love/hate relationship with social media)

The other day somebody called me “the most active Burundian on social media”. I used to wonder how to appreciate such statements since, although they’re always said with a smile, they can mean one of two things: mockery [i.e. you don’t have a life, all you do is waste your time online, filling my timeline with useless sh*t which I don’t have the time to read since I’m not online as much as you are (although I’ve somehow I’ve noticed you live online)] or encouragement [i.e. most of the things you talk about and share are interesting, relevant, helpful and sometimes funny]. Whereas I used to have a broad appreciation of people’s [sometimes conflicting] comments, nowadays I tend to put every comment into perspective: I consider who it came from and what really makes the person “tick”. Like the other day some dude whose online activity consists of browsing, liking and commenting on people’s photos, complained about my online activity. Considering that I’m not a big photo publisher (anymore), I totally understood where he was coming from, and I wasn’t offended by his statement. I would tell you what I thought about him but you’d call me mean.

My first social media love was hi5, which I joined in… a long time ago, I don’t even remember. What I recall is that I shut my account for good in 2007, upon joining Facebook which seemed to be cooler but calmer: back then the only photo you could upload was your profile pic, and there was a professional feeling about the platform. Hi5 on the other hand had become so overwhelming with eye-blinding personalised profile pages that automatically played their owners’ favourite songs when you visited their pages. I quit Hi5 to get away from all that mayhem, but also in an attempt to become less of the emotionally unstable, narcissistic and limit-histrionic person that social media was turning me into.

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We are the sources of our own demise!

I have a friend who has invested in a certain kind of business. He was telling me yesterday how he hates it when family or close friends request his services, as they never pay him or they pay really late. Therefore, whenever they come to him he will pretend that he doesn’t have what they need, and connect them to “another” provider through which he’ll discretely serve them and get his money. Smart move; and I encouraged him to keep doing that for as long as his people’s mind-set hasn’t changed!

My buddy isn’t the first person I hear complaining of the sort! I’ve heard a lot of people complain that when you have a business in Burundi, your relatives start behaving as if they are “entitled” to get things from you for free; or on never-ending credit! Hell no! Wait, it even goes beyond the business spectre… as you start to progress in life, people you didn’t even know about will start showing up claiming to be incutieti they are the cousins-of-the-aunt-of-your-grandfathers-sister-in-law, Hein?! They’ll come and they’ll try to suck every single penny out of you; like WT*?!

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