Burundi can give its neighbour—and the world—a lesson in peaceby Will Paxton / March 19, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
(Above) Decay in Burundi’s capital
Even those people who claim to know little of Africa have heard of Rwanda. Like Auschwitz and Srebrenica, the name is forever linked to one of the 20th century’s defining acts of depravity. Possibly more than 1m people, predominantly Tutsi, were hacked to death with hoes, machetes and whatever came to hand; the international community failed to take action and a United Nations mission was left floundering in the chaos.
Some may have watched Hotel Rwanda, a film which tries to capture the brutality of what happened in 1994. More recently, President Paul Kagame has been credited with turning Rwanda into an African success story, although his growing number of critics cite the suppression of public debate, the murky handling of the 2010 election (all the opposition parties pulled out of the contest alleging fraud and vote rigging) and the worry that, as with previous African “big men,” he will fail to stand down at the 2017 election as the constitution requires.