Peacebuilding and Peacemaking:
The Case of Burundi
by Dr. Rutagengwa Claude Shema
Great Lakes Peace Initiative (GLPI)
The conflict in any kind of community, society, nation and region is basically based on unsolved problem, which lies also on unfulfilled basic needs of individuals, communities, tribes/ethnic groups and or regional discrimination. Nevertheless, as long as conflict is perceived and conventionally seen as part of our daily life (natural-normal-neutral), we as human beings need to minimize as much as possible its impact on us and on the rest of biodiversity.
In other word, since we can’t avoid conflict to happen in all because it is often unpredictable, the best way to deal with it is to avoid any serious impact when is already born.
In the similar case of Burundi (one of the countries of so called the Great lakes region of Africa where ethnic conflict has ravaged the country), it would be wise and so fundamental to build a national infrastructure for peacebuilding and peacemaking, based on traditional and modern justice and reconciliation for immediate solution, with emphasis on sustainable/durable peace and development plus equal rights for a better future of Burundi and Barundi (citizens of Burundi).
In the aftermath of cruel conflict of Burundi, it would be an aberration to talk about peace and reconciliation without restorative justice. It has been reported that series of serious human rights violations committed by different groups of people in this country (Hutus against Tutsis,Tutsis against Hutus, or both against Twa, and some cases of Twa against Tutsis or against Hutus)
II-i. Ubushingantahe concept
Expected input: linking the old culture to the actual context.
In doing so, it is also important to look back into culture, to get some good experience related to the similar situation. That means that we can find some solutions towards national infrastructures through the old culture of the country like the “Ubushingantahe”- traditional disputes solving mechanism. This mechanism was very similar to the Rwandan Gacaca traditional disputes solving mechanism as well.
Led by people of integrity-called “Abashingantahe” , this mechanism was very active and important to citizens because it had three major seeds of peace like:
II-ii. Formal & informal reconciliation towards sustainable peace
Traditional formal/informal reconciliation is needed in this country, in order to breach the circle of revenge and vengeance. And this mechanism also is welcomed by many of people in the country.
III. Long term peace strategies
In the future, some effective mechanisms for peacebuilding and peacemaking should be launched such as formal peace education, civil peace brigades units on different levels, good governance, equality, respect of human rights, etc.., but the key of success would be to focus on the basic needs of people, with a special attention to vulnerable groups.
IV. Peacebuilding & peacemaking infrastructures
One of the major pillars of sustainable peace should be based on effective peacebuilding and peacemaking infrastructures. Therefore, in this context of Burundi, it would be more advisable to mention few (see table below), to give a chance to Burundians to elaborate the rest by themselves, and this participative concept also can help them to know more about peace value, and to protect it.
Table of basic peacebuilding & peacemaking infrastructures