The current flag of Burundi has existed since 1967, in 1982 only the aspect ratios were changed. Previously, there were similar flags with the same colors and arrangements, but differed by the symbols in the middle. They showed either a sorghum plant, the royal standard or drums.
The colors of the flag are interpreted as follows: red stands for the victims in the struggle for independence, green symbolizes hope and progress and white stands for peace. The six-pointed stars in the middle are supposed to symbolize Burundi’s motto, which is also written into the coat of arms: “Unité, Travail, Progrès” (unity, work, progress).
The coat of arms was introduced in 1962, the year of independence. It shows a red shield with a lion’s head, behind it three crossed spears. Shortly after 1962 the state motto was changed from “Ganza Sabwa” – which means something like “Rule – Rule” to “Unité – Travail – Progrès”.
The national anthem Burundi Bwacu (Beloved Burundi) has existed since independence in 1962.
Transport and traffic
According to politicsezine, the density of the road network in Burundi is given as 12,000 km. Only the main axes between the cities are paved (approx. 1000 km). In the rest of the country there are slopes that are difficult to ski in the rainy season. The paved roads are also often in a desolate condition. The tropical climate makes them prone to damage such as potholes, splintering or demolition. The only international airport is located in the capital Bujumbura and is regularly served by neighboring countries (Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania) or, for example, Ethiopia. In addition to the international airport, there are two small airports in Gitega and Kirundo.
Traffic routing is often chaotic, especially in Bujumbura. In rural areas, people ride bicycles or walk. Large loads are often transported on a bicycle, often over many kilometers. These bike rides are often quite dangerous. The bicycle remains a very important means of transport for the majority of the Burundian population. The traditional wooden scooters in the country are often the only means of transport for the poor rural population. In the cities and larger towns bicycle exist and motorcycle taxis and car taxis. The motorcycle taxis are now banned for safety reasons, at least in Bujumbura. However, bicycle taxis are of great importance. There are said to be around 23,000 bicycle taxis across the country. The largest port in Burundi is in Bujumbura. Shipping traffic exists between Bujumbura, Kigoma (Tanzania), Kalémie (DR Congo) and Mpulungu (Zambia), and there is also possible smuggling traffic here.
The media, which up to 2013/2014 could be described as relatively free in a regional comparison, have been under massive pressure since 2013, but even more so since 2015. The “Observatoire de la Presse Burundaise” (OPB) published regular reports up to 2015 on the activities and the situation of the media in Burundi. However, the site has not been accessible since 2017. The “Union burundaise des journalistes” (UBJ) and the Center burundais pour la liberté de la presse (CBLP) are active. There are some national newspapers that can report more or less independently, including L´Avenir, Le Renouveau, La Nation, Iwacu, La Vérité and La Lumière. But since 2011 – albeit more and more since 2015 – there have been increasing reports of restrictions on the freedom of the press and arrests of journalists.
Since then there have been repeated disabilities for journalists, including police violence. The popular journalist Hassan Ruvakuki was in 2013 imprisoned because the complicity was accused of rebel activity him, then in March 2013 released. Freedom of the press is often restricted on the grounds that journalists are arrested and stated that they have to reduce rebel activities in the Congo. The political crisis worsened in 2014. The private radio station RPA (Radio Publique Africaine) was banned by the government in April 2014. In the wake of the unrest in connection with the 2015 elections, public radio stations were devastated and journalists fled violence to neighboring countries or subsequently disappeared. Journalists are still at great risk to this day. One can no longer speak of freedom of the press, journalists live in constant fear. After three years of unrest, Burundi has continued to deteriorate in the ranking of press freedom: In 2018 and 2019, the country was only ranked 159 out of 180 states, and in 2020 Burundi fell another rank (160th out of 180 states). The BBC and Voice of America are no longer allowed to broadcast in Burundi and closed her office in July 2019.
Bloggers on the Internet (e.g. on Twitter) and photographers are particularly popular with young people, even if not everything is broadcast freely and without restrictions. The young photographer Teddy Mazina, who has been documenting the political situation in Burundi since 2012, is popular.
As in many East African countries, radio as an information medium is of particular importance. Most of the nationally significant news is broadcast on the radio. The language is mostly Kirundi or French or both. There are various radio stations, both national and regional, that can be received in Burundi. The broadcasting station RTNB (= Radio Télévision Nationale du Burundi) is a state-owned combined radio and television broadcaster. The private television station Télé Renaissance was founded in 2009 and has made peace building between the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups its task.
The Internet as an information medium is only about 5.5% of the population (2017) used. Although this value has risen sharply in recent years, it remains low overall. And here, too, freedom is restricted. Overall, however, the newspaper as a printed copy and radio or television are the main press media.