The reality in the communities: a discovery on what some Kinama youth encounter as part of the conflict consequence

 By Jean Baptiste NiyongaboDSCF9840

Kinama, one of the communes of Bujumbura Municipality and located in the northern part of Bujumbura the Capital city of Burundi suffered from the atrocities caused by the interethnic war of 1993. The ethnic conflict between Hutu and Tutsi communities followed by the rebels and regular army clashes in early 1995 made loses of lives and destruction of social infrastructures making the locality to become one of the poorest areas of Bujumbura. Kinama became since the stronghold of different armed groups till 2008 when the last armed rebel movement deposed guns. The consequences of war was such as poverty as source of  conflicts of land and other properties, and also the political conflicts followed as many political parties fight to win the electorate of this locality which also one of the most populated areas of Bujumbura.

Hence, the past of Kinama motivates any peacebuilding initiatives. This is the reason which pushed Action for Peace and Development (APD) to choose one of the schools to participate in the pilot phase of its project ‘Youth contribution in the search for reconciliation in Burundi’ that it seeks to implement within some Burundi secondary schools. This choice was objectively made because APD believes the students can tell more about what they encountered as war aftermath. They can witness the atrocities they saw with their own eyes and also they can share strong ideas to recover peace because the saying ‘he who feels it knows it’ states it well.

During the course of sessions that the pilot phase organized in 3 schools of Bujumbura, themes on conflicts identification, the transitional justice (TJ), truth and reconciliation commission (TRC), elections etc students identified many conflicts see in their neighbourhood and at the country level such as land dispute, political conflicts.. They showed interest to have information on the work of TRC, they witnessed their fear towards elections time if the politicians do not learn to be tolerant and they even proved a strong commitment to work for peace.

The debates and questions session by students was a right time to hear more about what some of the students suffered from. In the corner of the classroom where the session was hold, a student raised his hand. The facilitator was expecting a question on the theme of the day but it was something else, a confession on what hurts him more. “I live in my neighbourhood with people who killed my father and my mother keeps on reminding me this, what creates in me a sentiment of culpability because I have not taken revenge.” He paused a while and restarted:” I see those people who wander here and there in a total freedom without worry of the justice to my father. I see that I am the only source of solution to this problem and my question is to know what I shall bring as solution.”

As APD, we were surprised to meet such a situation and the first aid was to comfort him. We thanked him because he did not wish to take revenge, encouraged him to resist his mother’s encouragements to taking revenge. We witnessed to the whole group that also some of us who opted to work for peace have met the same situations and that we believe in waiting for justice to work for us all.

Definitely, the students and their trainers concluded that the project ‘Youth contribution in the search for reconciliation in Burundi comes at the right moment because it will help reduce or eliminate some hatred or violence ideas in youth in particular and the communities in general by clarifying what the work of Truth and Reconciliation commission and transitional justice. They also committed to be peace consolidation pioneers in order to incite the rest of the population to combat violence ideas in order to ensure a better future for themselves and the coming generation by healing the wounds the past left in many Burundians. They wished APD’s initiative shall meet support from all the stakeholders in the management of the country.

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