Burundi

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Tyler Blowers
10/13/2011
Burundi
Among the top ten poorest countries in the world ranks a small country in the southern region of Africa, Burundi (Burundi, 2011). For many years Burundi has struggled to pull itself out of corruption, poverty, and war. Does Burundi hold a bright future or will they continue to suffer from a grim past? Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, lies at the northeastern end of Lake Tanganyika (Burundi, 2011). The older section of the city is made of buildings containing much Belgian and German influence from their colonization period, as well as a central market filled vendor’s booths in the traditional market style. Gitega, another of Burundi’s major cities, is also its cultural capital and was announced in 2007 to be the future capital instead of Bujumbura (Burundi, 2011). Gitega lies near the southern end of the Nile River. Burundi consists of around eighty-five percent Hutu, fourteen percent Tutsi, and one percent Twa. With a population of nearly ten-million and a land area of 10,745 square feet, Burundi has the second highest population density in Africa, second only to Rwanda to the North (Uvin, Peter, 1999). Although Burundi was colonized by Germans and Belgians, the main languages spoken are French and Kirundi. The national currency is the Burundi Franc, issued by the national bank, Banque de la République du Burundi. The borders of Burundi were not created by Europeans in their conquest for African land; instead the boundaries were created by the Burundian monarchy. Originally populated by the Twa, Burundi would later come to share land between the Tutsis and the Hutus. Burundi was not ventured into by the Europeans and was not colonized until 1890 when it became a part of the German Protectorate of East Africa. As punishment after World War I, Germany lost land in Africa, Belgium would then gain the area which would be known as the Mandate of Ruanda-Urundi (Burundi, 2011). After World War II Burundi was pushing for independence from the European colonial power and gained independence rather freely in July of 1962. The first Prime Minister of Burundi would be Prince Rwagasore, a Tutsi. In 1961 Rwagasore was assassinated, the assassination sent Burundi into a political uproar which they have yet to reach a full recovery from (Burundi, 2011). Since independence Burundi has struggled with issues of violence between the Tutsi’s and the Hutu’s. The conflict between these two groups has resulted in hundreds of thousands of lives lost and people removed from their homes (Burundi, 2011). The conflict between the Tutsi’s and the Hutu’s in Burundi stemmed from an event in January of 1965 when a Hutu prime minister took office for a second term. On January 15 of that same year, the Hutu prime minister was gunned down by a Tutsi gunman (Burundi, 2011). By the end of the next year the governmental control was completely under the Tutsi’s and after a failed attempt to regain control, thirty-four Hutu officers were killed (Burundi, 2011). In July of 1966 a new prime minister came into control, a Tutsi that had been a key role in forming ant-Hutu riots, giving the minority group of the Tutsi’s even more power (Burundi, 2011). The Tutsi now had complete control over what would turn into a corrupt government. In April and May of 1972 the Tutsi regime performed genocidal killings of the Hutu, killing around 200,000 (Burundi, 2011). More than 100,000 Hutu fled which spawned hatred between the groups and brought about the end of the First Republic (Burundi, 2011).

The Second Republic was short lived and focused on strengthening church-state relations. The Third Republic was removed in 1987 and was controlled by a president and a thirty member military junta by the name of “the Military Committee for National Salvation” (Burundi, 2011). The new president had Hutu prisoners released in an attempt to settle some discrimination, and in August of 1988 the Hutu genocide began again. Thousands of people were killed...
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