Dignity

98% of the people who are going to read this probably know me as “Mister Burundi” or “KRis/Chris the blogger”. Some would even call me an “activist”, a title I’m not quite comfortable with. Very few know that there is something I actually I enjoy more than writing and sharing stories: …my job!

What do you do, you ask?

In 2011, my mum, some cousins and I started a non-profit organization called Sacodé. We’re engaged in community health and development in Burundi, and we work especially with women and the youth. During the organization’s first few years, I worked in the background; but in 2015, I decided to quit my high-pay-trips-abroad-permanent-contract job at the Revenue Authority/OBR (a decision many still call “foolish”) and dedicate all my resources to the work we do at Sacodé. I’ve never made a better decision in my life! It came with its own set of challenges, but what really comes easy in life?

I love this job because it takes me beyond just complaining about the problems in Burundi to taking concrete steps towards actually fixing some of them! I know this sounds cliché, but as I write, the lives of 16,856 women and youth in Burundi have changed or have a better chance of changing for the better, thanks to the work we do. Among them are schoolgirls and female high school students whose school attendance and performance have significantly improved, thanks to a product we developed specifically for them, but which can also benefit millions of other girls and women in Burundi. Details are in the 5 minutes long video below.

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Judith and Yolande

They’re friends – the closest friends you’ll ever meet, although I sometimes wonder if their friendship isn’t just a product of convenience. They’re cousins – their mothers are sisters. They grew up together, in the same neighbourhood, went to school together, and today, they’re neighbours. They’ve been there for each other their whole lives. They’ve laughed together, fought together, with each other, won battles together, for each other… it’s almost impossible to have one without the other. They’re the perfect definition of friendship, though they’re so different from each other.

Yolande is beautiful… so beautiful. She’s a beauty queen. Perfect figure, angelic face, beautiful smile, captivating eyes… She’s always so well put together, her makeup on point. She’s the girl your friends say is out of your league. She breathes confidence, lights up a room when she walks into it… But she has a past. A dark past that makes you wonder how someone who went through what she did could be so radiant. Her story is an inspiration to many.
On the downside, she doesn’t talk much. She has a bit of an attitude. She’ll only tell you what you need to hear – she’s private like that. She’ll have you second-guessing everything, even yourself. You’ll have a hard time trusting her. If she’s kind enough to let you into her secret place though, you’ll realise she’s only human… like the rest of us.

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Are women weak?

Put your feminist guns down people; I’m just asking a question, not making a statement!

So I’m the kind of guy who can be quite emotional and moody, although I’ve also been told I’m mean and heartless. I think it all depends on the person (i.e. what they mean to me) and the situation (i.e. if I feel I’m being taken advantage of). Somebody told me I’m moody because I’m a “Cancer”. See, I don’t usually believe in horoscopes and reading stars but this association made me do some extensive research on what “Cancer men” are (supposed to be) like. I know this sounds silly (I still don’t believe in horoscopes and reading stars) but I swear some definitions were pretty accurate vis-à-vis my personality and reaction to certain situations. Anyway, that’s not the centre of today’s topic…

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The forgotten class

photo

A photo by Guy Basabose

Bashingantahe, bapfasoni, rwaruka…

… A greeting that anybody who has attended a Burundian function has heard at least 5 times (the average number of speeches at one given function *sigh*). For those of you who aren’t familiar with the greeting, well, it’s our version of ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’… with a touch of discrimination so special to Burundians…

You see, (a)bashingantahe is the plural of (u)mushingantahe, a noun used to refer to traditional judges. Not every man could be umushingantahe; however, one had to be married to deserve the title. The same applies to umupfasoni; a married woman… unless you’re trying to say that a person is ‘polite’ in which case the word becomes an adjective that can be used to qualify both male and female i.e. I have an uncle nicknamed mupfasoni. Then there’s urwaruka… the kids… technically (and legally) anybody under the age of 18 for females, and 21 for males…

Hence, translated faithfully, the greeting actually says “married men, married women and all kids and teenagers”… Find the missing link…

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To be happy, we must admit women and men aren’t ‘equal’

feministMy question is, why are we still fighting? Sometimes I meet “feminists” and I really have the urge to ask them what they are trying to prove… Oh well.

Note: this article isn’t mine. See source below.

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“Norman Vincent Peale, author of “The Power of Positive Thinking,” once wrote these words: “Change your thoughts, and you change your world.”

His statement is highlighted at the beginning of my new book, “How to Choose a Husband and Make Peace with Marriage.” Its premise is that if women want to be successful in love, they should reject the cultural script they’ve been sold and adopt a whole new view of men and marriage.

As products of divorce, the modern generation has few role models for lasting love. That alone is a problem. But young women have an added burden: they’ve been raised in a society that eschews marriage. They’ve been taught instead to honor sex, singlehood and female empowerment.

Consider this statement by Rebecca Traister in Marie Claire: “The world as we’ve known it for a very long time—one in which a woman’s value was tied to her role as a wife—is ending, right in front of us. It is now standard for a woman to spend years on her own, learning, working, earning, socializing, having sex, and yes, having babies in the manner she—and she alone—sees fit. We are living through the invention of independent female adulthood.”

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