Par Achille Manirakiza
This year, Burundi marks 51 years of independence. Many years indeed, since the 3-star flag was raised with the national anthem in the background, marking the end of slavery and foreign occupation.
51 years down the road, Burundians have passed through a lot. Ethnic conflicts, a long civil war that has started in 1993, corruption and poverty; with this, Burundi stands as the 178th country out of the 182 on the International Human Development Indicators of the year 2012.
At each of the eight different governments (from 1966 up to now), a hope for change has always been on the minds of the Burundians, only to fade away as time went.
Regionalisms, ethnic backgrounds, conflict of power and corruption, have been the main roots of calamities the country has been facing. On the other hand, mass poverty, youth illiteracy and unemployment are the new challenges of the country.
Nevertheless, the country has many assets: we are right in the middle of Africa, we have been blessed with nature, and most importantly, the country counts on its people for its day-to-day life and a broader vision of the future.
Yes, we have acquired independence; yet, right at the end of the occupation we were divided. Moreover, the country still depends largely on foreign aid.
Burundian youth today has a greater burden than before; we know where we came from, we know our origins and fortunately, some know where they want to be.
But what the common men do? A common man would spend his day complaining about the actual power, and at the same time, wait a job from the same government. He feels proud to belong to a political group of the neighborhood and would spend hours criticizing and talking about political news.
It is unfortunate that, the same ways politicians have used the youth for their plans in every single conflict of power are still the same ways used now, and many are still being manipulated.
Youth has to stand aside, take hold of their destiny and run for it. The future is ours, we are the next generation, and what we will be is determined by our actions now. If we sit back and watch, we will stay in the same redundancy, and at the same time, we will remain the only victims.
The first step consists in knowing who we are; no country whatsoever is a role model. Our country is unique, we have a particular past, and this should shape our destiny. Having this in mind helps to know where we want to be.
The second step is in knowing that none is interested in our future than we are. Yes, we are a part of the African bigger picture, but our situation is particular and we need solutions fitting our context.
The third step is the involvement of youth in political matters; politics are not a taboo or some sort of dirty games. We actually have to take that responsibility in having a word on the decisions that are made instead of looking and criticizing.
Do not be common, stand aside and do what is right. We are the future; we are the ones Africa is relying on for its tomorrow. Know who you are and act accordingly!