I’m the type of person who would elope. Well, I would (probably) never marry anyone my parents, close family and friends do not know about (and approve, to some extent), but I could certainly says the vows, receive the blessing, and sign the papers in a tiny ceremony with just my bride and I. I believe certain important life events are best celebrated intimately. Before you call me selfish (or totally confused), which I’m sure my mama will, hear me out! I have a plan. If I ever elope, I plan to later have a big sort of “introduction party”, for our parents to invite their friends to celebrate “the union of our two families”. But I’ve been wondering what kind of speeches would be said at that party, considering that we’d already be married. I trust my dad to be able to come up with something, but to what extent does the Burundian culture allow creative speeches for couples who eloped? Mbe would there be a dot?
One year ago, I was just a random Burundian citizen – not an “opposition blogger” like a few people have been calling me since the crisis begun. I was a blogger, and although (like any respectable Burundian) I spoke and sometimes wrote and tweeted about politics, they were never my main area of focus. I’m the guy who would be blasting music on the radio while everybody else was busy listening to the News on RPA at 1PM. Listening to Burundian News depressed me. I still don’t listen to the News. I read whatever catches my attention online (I’m very picky with the sources), but I never put time aside to listen to Inzamba or Humura. Those clips never even land in my messages – I guess my friends know me well. But anyway, whenever something major happens, it always finds its way to my ears, since that’s all every Burundian will be talking about… and of course, these days everybody expects me to know about all that happens. It’s funny.
I’m the guy who can’t tell who is Pascal Nyabenda from the other guy, what’s his name, the President of CNDD-FDD? I don’t know who the “Second Vice-President” is and I can’t tell you the name of any “Minister” (the use of quotation marks is to express my conviction that all the current institutions are illegitimate). When Ikurakure died and everybody was talking about it, I was like, who is that and what makes his death such a big deal? Some people couldn’t believe me: how can I not know Ikurakure? I’m clueless – definitely not the right guy to call “an opposition blogger”.
I sometimes wonder if I lose some of you (if not many), when I include a Bible verse in my posts. I really don’t do it with an intention to preach or prove anything to you; I just use the verse as a reference, as I would use a quote by a celebrity or something. Certainly a reference from a source that I personally believe in and give a huge place in my life; but at the end of the day, the things I write about make sense (I hope), whether you believe in the Bible or not. Anyway, all this to say that I’m about to share a Bible verse, but would like you not to run away without reading what will come after it. Thank you.
“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to theLord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’ Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares theLord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29: 4-11 NIV)
That’s what a friend called me when I made a sarcastic comment about one of those forward “Alerte! Alerte!” messages every Burundian is probably used to (and a bit tired of) getting by now. The message was about a neighborhood under police siege, but someone who isn’t quite a master of la langue de Moliere had written it. So, yeah, I made fun of the form – not the content – and my friend didn’t like it. He said I was missing the point.
But… I understand him. I was speaking from a position which I’m aware makes me seem detached or disconnected from everything that’s going on. I’m not in Burundi anymore. A few months ago, my life was threatened and so I packed my bags and left. I fled. Ni hatari.
My friend, who’s still in Burundi, doesn’t know exactly how and why I left, and being aware that I’m not living a typical refugee life, I can understand his attitude towards me.