The former president of Burundi, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, proceeded on Friday, February 8, 2019, in Bujumbura, to the official presentation of his book “Burundi, Démocratie piégée” or (Burundi, Trapped Democracy”), published in 2018 by Iwacu-Europe.
The 726-page book which took 10 years to be written, is a testimony to the recent history of Burundi from 1987 to 2017. The former President Ntibantunganya explained why he wrote this book. According to him, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has been working for more than four years. To fulfill its mission, it needs the contributions of all those who have truths to reveal, confessions to make or questions to express. Among these partners, former heads of state have a leading role. They must contribute to the emergence of the liberating truth that Burundians expect. One of the ways in which they can pass is to testify by writing.
“Among these former heads of state, it was me who served the shortest term, from April 12, 1994, to July 251996. But this mandate was very dense. It happened many facts and events that later greatly influenced the changes in the Burundian political and institutional system”. He said.
In writing this book, he wants to testify about these events and thus give his modest contribution to the work of the CVR on this crucial period in the history of Burundi. Mr. Ntibantunganya made it clear that this book is not a history book. It is a “set of notes from documents read, testimonies lived and analyze made for history over the period from 1987 to 2017”.
For Mr. Ntibantunganya, the other goal is even a duty to give justice and homage to the “heroes of the shadows”, to thousands of “just”, from all ethnic groups, who have distinguished themselves on several hills and neighborhoods, in schools, communes and parishes, these women and men who have refused criminal violence, sometimes at the risk of their own lives.
“The CVR needs to identify these women and men as role models for present and future generations, as patriots to whom we must now show respect and consideration. Monuments will have to be erected at the level of each commune to welcome the names of all the victims of our dark history and to shelter steles in which will be engraved the names of these ‘heroes of the shade’. That is why in the writing of this book I expose the facts that Burundians and foreigners are beginning to reveal and that the opinion knows more and more.” He added.
Dedication to Burundian youth
Mr. Ntibantunganya finished by dedicating his book to Burundian youth. According to him, this youth must be protected and, above all, protect themselves. They must encourage their elders that “they are” bravely facing this past in order to “never again”. They must also plan for a better future.
“Today, a new generation of young Burundians is engaged in our defense and security forces, in our public service and in the private sector. This new generation also integrates orders in religious denominations, animates the media and works within civil society organizations. All these sections of national life “must be freed from the silences/dissimulations, manipulations and omissions that have characterized the relationship of facts and the treatment of the various painful episodes in Burundi’s postcolonial history. In this way, they will be able to engage, safe and reassured, in the construction of a country protected from the demons of the past and ready to take off without return or detours towards a harmonious and sustainable economic and social development “. He said.
The various speakers congratulated Mr. Ntibantunganya for the production of quality work. The President of the TRC, Ambassador Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, thanked the author for the quality of the references and the relevance of his analyzes. He felt that the book is written with great sincerity. In a country that is thirsty for truth, Burundi still needs living witnesses who speak to enlighten the present and the truth. In this book, Mr. Ntibantunganya has multiplied the benchmarks and references to prove that he hates lying. He has set the events in their contexts and the social and political actors to their interests, their calculations, their challenges, and their challenges, Ndayicariye said.
Mr. Léandre Sikuyavuga, representing the publisher “Iwacu-Europe”, thanked former President Ntibantunganya for this gift to the youth and the Burundian people. According to him, the book is a valuable contribution to the work of the TRC. He describes and analyzes the episodes of the history of Burundi over a period of 30 years (1987-2017), takes a look without complacency on the dramas of the past and the strategies of actors who have engendered them. For Mr. Sikuyavuga, reading this book also allows us to discover a lucid politician, who recognizes and learns from his mistakes.
Iwacu invites the key players in the history of Burundi to follow suit to help feed the reflection by publishing their testimonies.
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