Burundi History and Politics

Burundi History

Early time

The history of Burundi is closely linked to the history of the neighboring country Rwanda. The ethnic group of the Twa probably originally settled here as well, although they can only be found in small numbers in Burundi and Rwanda, but according to scientific opinion they were the first to live there.

Hutu and Tutsi

Hutu and Tutsi settled in the region later than the Twa. It is not exactly known whether these immigrated at the same time or at different times. In any case, the two tribes were similar and it is sometimes believed that differences in their roles within society only developed over time.

The Tutsi were outnumbered, but those who owned more, especially animals. The Hutu were outnumbered and poorer. It was only in the course of time that the two groups separated, so that at some point they also differed from one another externally. Nevertheless, one assumes a close cultural connection between Hutu and Tutsi. At the head of the empire stood a king, the Mwami, who also took over the religious leadership.

The Europeans came

The first Europeans to reach Burundi were British explorers. In 1890 Burundi, like Rwanda, became part of the German East Africa colony.

Rwanda Urundi

After the First World War, Burundi, together with Rwanda, was a mandate area of ​​the League of Nations and was called Rwanda-Urundi. This area was placed under Belgian administration. After World War II, it became a United Nations Trust Territory.

For a long time, the Belgians supported the Tutsi minority, who held important posts within the country’s administration and were often preferred. This in turn angered the Hutu, who felt they were disadvantaged.

Kingdom of Burundi

Political parties were allowed in the late 1950s. In 1961 Burundi received more rights and a parliament was elected. The first head of government was called Louis Rwagasore. However, he did not hold office for long, as he was murdered shortly after taking office. It was not long before the Hutu-Tutsi battle broke out in 1962.

In 1962 Burundi became independent and a constitutional monarchy with Mwami Mwambutsa II as head of state. So Burundi was now a kingdom. The conflict between Hutu and Tutsi continued. Again and again there were violent arguments in which many people lost their lives.

Burundi as a republic

In 1966, as a country located in Africa according to thesciencetutor, Burundi became a republic headed by a president named Micombero. During his reign, the Hutu were expelled from the administration. But even in the following years there were repeated fights and murders, which is why many people fled the country. The same applies to the following years, in which the governments changed, in between to compensate, but often to renewed battles.

In 1994 the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda died in a plane crash (compare history of Rwanda). The violent conflicts flared up again. The country did not calm down.

It was not until 2000 that a peace treaty was signed with the mediation of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. In 2005 a new constitution came into force and Burundi is now a presidential republic.

In June 2020, Burundi’s longtime President Pierre Nkurunziza, who at the beginning of his term in office was a glimmer of hope for the poor country, died. He has ruled since 2005. Unfortunately, he too got rich in the end and made decisions that alone should strengthen his power. There are rumors that he died of Covid-19, the disease caused by the corona virus. A disease that, by the way, had long been denied in the small country.

It was already clear beforehand, however, that his party friend Evariste Ndayishimiye should take over the government in Burundi. He is now also the country’s head of state.

Who are the Batimbos?

Music and dance are very important to the people in Burundi. The most important dances are the abatimbo and the abanyagasimbo. Both dances are usually danced for celebrations or weddings.

Especially the drummers from Burundi, the Batimbos, have achieved great fame. They accompany the drumming with all kinds of acrobatics and dance. Young men in particular have made drumming their profession in Burundi. They are often so well trained and so flexible that they can even hit the drums with their feet. In Burundi, the drummers are also a symbol of hope and peace. Because peace is what a country really needs. Drummers from Burundi sometimes perform in Europe too.

Burundi History