Burundi: The Biography of a Small African Country

Overview

Burundi is Rwanda's twin, a small country in Central Africa with a complex history of ethnic tension between its Hutu and Tutsi populations and a deep familiarity with traumatic events, including the mass killing of over 200,000 people. Burundi was trapped in a state of civil war until 2004, after which Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela mediated a lengthy and eventually successful movement toward peace. Burundi's contemporary era has brought new institutions to the country, including a more open constitution, ...

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Overview

Burundi is Rwanda's twin, a small country in Central Africa with a complex history of ethnic tension between its Hutu and Tutsi populations and a deep familiarity with traumatic events, including the mass killing of over 200,000 people. Burundi was trapped in a state of civil war until 2004, after which Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela mediated a lengthy and eventually successful movement toward peace. Burundi's contemporary era has brought new institutions to the country, including a more open constitution, which led to the election of a majority Hutu government in 2005. Still, apart from ethnic tensions, many problems persist, particularly the entrenched poverty of most Burundians, which has led NGOs to call Burundi one of the most deprived countries on earth.

Nigel Watt traces the origins of Burundi's political crises and illuminates recent historical events through interviews with leading political figures and survivors of atrocity. A unique and rare portrait, Watt's "biography" demystifies Burundi's little-understood "ethnic" divisions and provides a thorough understanding of this beautiful and cultured land, which has produced a remarkable line of peacemakers, journalists, teachers, and political and religious leaders.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A very accessible, empathic, and yet accurate book. Nigel Watt puts people and their experiences and emotions at the middle of his story."—Filip Reyntjens, University of Antwerp

"A book about reality, an item in very short supply when people write about African conflicts....Hope based on nice feelings is a non-starter in the nasty world of Africa's small wars. Nigel Watt provides the only picture of hope which can be realistically contemplated, that which bases itself on informed and uncompromising local knowledge. This is a book which should be read by all humanitarian workers and members of the international community involved in what are today coyly called 'complex emergencies."—Gérard Prunier, author of frica's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe

"Topical and action-oriented, can be read as an almost complete introduction for the newcomer to the subject."—Race and Class

"Watt's political overview is remarkable for its attention to detail and balanced assessment EL From peacemakers at Kibimba to media reformers at Radio Ijambo, to human rights mobilizers at Iteka, Watts seems to know all the key players and has accurately described the mission and effect of each. With deft descriptions and telling quotations from his interviews, he captures the character and voice of these long-suffering people.' African Studies Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231700900
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 10/22/2008
  • Series: Columbia/Hurst Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

From 1998 to 2002, Nigel Watt worked in Burundi for Christian Aid and for CARE International, growing to love the country and dedicating himself to understanding its complexities. He was awarded an MBE (The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for "services to national reconciliation." He has been involved with Africa for most of his life, first as a teacher and head of a secondary school in postindependence Zambia, supporting the development of youth voluntary service in a number of African countries, and then serving as director of the Africa Centre in London.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Maps

1 A Quick Tour of the Country 1

2 Transport, Language, Culture, Religion 11

History and Painful Memories

3 Kings, Germans, Belgians, Hutus, Tutsis, Twa 23

4 Micombero and the tragedy of 1972 33

5 Dictatorship and the first seeds of democracy 1977-93 39

6 The crisis begins (1993): the killing of Ndadaye and the aftermath 47

7 'Creeping coup' to Buyoya II, 1993-99 57

8 Tne peace talks at Arusha, 1998-2001 67

9 Buyoya, Ndayizeye and the elections of 2005 75

10 Rebels and extremists 85

11 Integrating the army: disarmament and demobilisation 93

12 Tales of 'ethnicity' 99

13 Tne Twa: organising the most marginalised 107

Making Peace

14 Peace comes to Kibimba 115

15 Action by Christians: peace education and trauma healing 121

16 Peacemaking on the ground 131

17 Tne media 147

18 Governance, human rights and justice 157

19 Poverty and development: the economy as the key to peace? 165

20 International organisations 177

The Present and the Future

21 The new regime, 2005-07 189

22 Is it peace? 203

Annex 1 Bibliography 211

Annex 2 Who's Who 215

Annex 3 Glossary 217

Annex 4 Acronyms 219

Annex 5 Some useful websites 223

Index 225

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