n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Identity and cultural diversity in conflict resolution and democratisation for the African renaissance : the case of Burundi

Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


Since its independence in 1962, Burundi has witnessed conflicts and violence. A multitude of factors help explain these tragedies, which include the creation of a negative image of the 'other'; an ever-strengthened fear of the 'other'; the blood feud between the Hutus and the Tutsis; and an illusion of the dominance of a so-called 'ethnic group'.

The purpose of this paper is to underscore the part which the colonial state played with regard to the creation and intrumentalisation of ethnicity, based on racist ideologies. Since independence, the ruling elites continue to appropriate and radicalise this category. As result, they are not only able to enjoy political gains, but also simply perpetuate ethnicity with the help of an institutional framework, while pretending to fight it.
The Burundi nation that was built on moral and social values such as , a love for a work well done, and the value of effort, finds itself in a trap. There is a crisis of these values, which resulted in the legitimatisation of negative forces as criteria for social promotion and access to power.
The paper argues that because the Burundi issue is complex and multiform, the solution has to be complex and multiform as well. To this effect and to be able to make an impact, it has to draw from many registers: political, institutional and cultural (the value of unity and the institution of philosophy).
The paper proposes a few political initiatives which are to be taken: advocacy on citizenry, participation in the culture of democracy, memory restitution through history, and depolitisation and demystification of ethnicity. From a socio-cultural perspective, the initiatives will be based on deepening dialogue and negotiation at all levels, rehabilitating the social and cultural values and customs likely to enhance social cohesion and peace, promoting rehabilitation of the institution in order to incorporate peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms and human rights into the educational system, designing an integrated national reconciliation programme, providing support to the cultural organisations which promote peace and human rights, and advocating for media involvement in all the above initiatives.

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