I, Ngangare Eric 1key, am a grain of nothingness in the infinite mass that is our universe but I am not void. As long I live, I will have a say. This is my world, too. Nobody has the monopoly.
I am a Rwandan citizen. Rwanda shares borders with Burundi. Burundi is actually said to be Rwanda’s twin sister. Both countries have (had) their share of pain. Rwanda continues to heal itself though the scars will forever remain. Burundi is still in pain and the situation gets worse by the minute. Its pain is chronic but not incurable.
I have been to Burundi a couple of times. It’s a beautiful country with the coolest and most beautiful people I know on Earth. I know you know where this is going. I know you too have seen the viral horrific pictures of the victims in the streets and being dumped in mass graves- a youth wasted by the hand of one ignorant and scared man who projects by terrorizing and killing the same people he is supposed to serve, even in his illegal third term. I still can’t figure out why.
This is not Rwanda 1994 when the bad news reached only a small part of the world. This is 2015. While you’re looking at your social media feeds, somewhere between elections in the US, your favourite team, the next blockbuster, you’ll see a mention about Burundi. But of course you’ll carry on with your life because after all it’s none of your business. I mean what’s so new about a bunch of Africans butchering each other for no reason? “Let them kill each other till one wins”, one of “us” said. Wow wow!!
As I type this, the birds are chanting, I’m in my warm bed enjoying fast-speed internet from Kigali looking at stats praising Rwanda as the fastest growing country in the world in the last 25 years and I can’t stop pondering on the question “Why are we so silent about Burundi?” And I am not talking about our government but us, you and I, as people. Why?? We know war, death, agony, it’s not hard for us to empathize but why are we so numb? When you go through testimonials of the 1994 genocide survivors, one common phrase is “The world knew but stayed silent.” We are the world. What have we decided to do? Because to be honest, Facebook profile pictures with a Burundian flag are not going to stop the killing. Facebook posts and tweets, while laughing hard on our whatsapp groups, that’s not going to change shiiit!!! Just like this post. It will make you think for a second but the next one, you will be back to your routine. We are not concerned yet we swore to the sun and moon “Never again” and not just in Rwanda but elsewhere too. And like I said in one of my poems “If time was a sad song and genocides were verses, never again would be the hook.” Please, prove me wrong. Give me hope! I lost my faith in god(s), religions, politics a long time ago. The only bit remaining that is hanging on a thin thread is a tiny little hope in you. Can we be human? Can we imagine what it is to look for a place to hide and there is none? To look in your children’s eyes and silently say with a tear “Let us patiently wait for our time. I can hear the neighbors crossing to the other side. Close your eyes. And wait.”
Can you? I am talking to you sitting in your office with air condition on planning in which hotel to have lunch and where to take the new girl out. I am talking to you who is so obsessed with your self valuing your importance by the number of followers and retweets. I am talking to me who hides behind social media accounts and blogs. At the end of the day, we can all tweet, right? Tweets are infinite. But how are 140 characters going to save lives when a whole UN speech has absolutely zero fucking impact? I’ll tell why nothing is happening. We have not sacrificed anything.
I dare you today to sacrifice something for #Burundi and please stop with the #IAmBurundi. You are not!!