Peace Day celebrations in Burundi
September 27, 2013
Peace Day celebrations in Burundi were marked by a collection of athletic and cultural events co-sponsored by the regional administration of the province of Bujumbura. Among those invited were officials from all communes of the province as well as representatives from each political party in the region. The day was alive with songs, dances, poetry, sports and words of encouragement and empowerment from the region’s leaders, all in the name of peace.
Throughout the day, dances, poems and group dialogues focused on a communal journey toward peace. “Rwaruke, uwutwigisha kuryana ntakaturyane indya!” boomed Joris Nizigiyimana, singer and poet of the Mugongomanga region. “The young will not tolerate anyone who tries to divide us!” Nizigiyimana was not the sole local artist celebrating at the festivities; many local groups and artists from throughout the Bujumbura area joined in the chorus for peace in Burundi.
An organized football match between young people from the Isare and Mubimbi communes drew crowds of onlookers who cheered the players on. The game was a highlight of the day, bringing together local youths of different political backgrounds and encouraging friendly competition in the name of peace.
The dialogues sessions were focused on a recurring theme: “Youth, let us unite to build peace!” Dialogue Coordinator, Liberate Nakimana, from Interpeace partner CENAP, gave an address in which she delighted in the day’s events and reflected on the many years of social and political unrest in the region. She emphasized the importance of using the Peace Day events as a platform for young people to reach across social and political divides, to find common ground in sports and in culture. The day encouraged young people to look past their own political leanings and to be proactive members in an international community working toward peace on a local and global scale.
The governor of the Bujumbura province warmly praised the messages of the songs and poetry of the day. He stated that messages in pop culture aimed toward young people such as: “Be wary of those who incite you to use violence without being ready to assume the responsibilities,” are crucial in the journey toward peace. After recognizing the struggles of his province with issues of security, he stressed the importance of political toleralnce within every community and reminded young people of the preciousness of peace and the essentiality of protecting it at all costs.