What does ‘I stand with Burundi’ mean? Burundians are killing Burundians. Which Burundi do you stand with in this situation? In Paris, ISIS was attacking France, so I stood with France. In Paris, ISIS was attacking the Western way of life, so I stood with Westernization. In Paris, ISIS was attacking Christianity, so I showed solidarity with Christianity. Again, what does ‘I stand with Burundi’ mean?
Is the Burundi story news to us? We have been talking about possible violence in Burundi even before the Paris attacks. How is the recent news of violence shocking? Is it not just an escalation? Is it not a predictable outcome of African leadership? Gambia is now an Islamic state in case you did not know. The consequences in a few years are clear. Do we wait until the worst happens before we ‘Stand with Gambia?’ The Coca Cola advert was right, “While the world worries about the future…1 Billion Africans are sharing a Coke.” Remember, preparations against terror attacks in Paris were constant. Do you stand with a man who tries to avoid lightening or the one who just waits for it?
Remember, the US stood with Paris & so did the EU. They backed it up with rhetoric, military support and intelligence gathering, etc. Will the AU do the same for Burundi? Again, which Burundi will it stand alongside in this situation? It is not ironic that Africans will only intervene in Burundi after securing funds from the ‘imperialist’ governments of Europe and the US. The amount of money pocketed will be more than that used to enforce peace in Burundi. Soon after the violence, Burundi will tell the Europe and the US to leave the country alone and mind their business. Then in a few years, we will be back to violence. Will we ‘Stand with Burundi’ in perpetuity as it engages in a brutal cycle of its making. If my friend picks a fight with someone every day, do you expect me to stand with him after the first two days?
Imagine the world wants to ‘Stand with Burundi.’ Do you back the murderous government or the potentially destructive opposition? Do you back the ones who hold on to power by force or the ones who want it by force? In summary, there is no ideology, no direction, no vision & no purpose to stand for in Burundi. In Africa, we have selfishness, power & greed. Do you expect me to stand with an oppressive regime that seeks to replace another oppressive regime?
All we can do for Burundi is pray so, please, pray for Burundi. It is time for us to build something worth standing for instead of importing hashtags whose context is not directly applicable to our situation. Let all Africans wake up to the idea that when you stand with someone or something, you stand for the values that entity represents and not for the mere sake of standing.
My words are harsh are they not? If I could put it any other way, I would. You cannot build a glorious country on knee jerk reactions. Yes, you have to solve the current problem immediately, but you cannot stop there. You have to use the situation as a means of building an idea that will last forever even if your nation does not. We, Africans, desire peace, freedom, prosperity and respect yet we have none of these things. We only have illusions of an Africa that is rising while ignoring the fact that other countries around the world retain the capacity to take what is ours by force if they find it necessary to do so.
You can only build a country on great ideas, and those ideas are what we lack. We need a consensus of thought. We need a birth of clear thinking. We should embrace the truth no matter how unpleasant or uncomfortable it may be. If we are to help Burundi, then neither the government nor the opposition deserves power. They have demonstrated their willingness to do anything to gain power. Instead, it is the poor people of Burundi who need our help and not Burundi itself. Remember, “Poverty is the worst form of violence,” ― Mahatma Gandhi.
In Africa, we only focus on government versus opposition even though the rich make up both of them. By doing so, we concentrate on the country and not on its people especially the poor. Let us build a new ideology, a new philosophy and a new way of life where the poor are at the center of it. Make the poor people of Burundi the heart of your campaign against violence in that country. Stand with them. Forget the opposition and government. Until then, the words ‘I stand with Burundi’ have no meaning.