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Burundi Independence Day

by Vishal Kumar

Burundi, a landlocked country in the Great lake region of Africa, celebrates its Independence Day on July 1st.

1. When is the Independence Day of Burundi celebrated?

Burundi, a landlocked country in the Great lake region of Africa, celebrates its Independence Day on July 1st. The day commemorates the turmoil its people endured to win freedom from Belgium in 1962.

2. How is Independence Day celebrated?

Like any other country, Burundi marks its independence day with a plethora of festivities. This day sees political leaders making speeches about the past and future, military parading to tunes of marching band, gymnasts diving through burning hoops, and people indulging in traditional drumming and dancing.

3. Why is Independence Day significant?

Every year on the 1st of July, Burundians rejoice in the historic moment when it became an independent nation. Burundi became a part of German East Africa (a German colony that comprised present-day Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanganyika—the mainland portion of what is now Tanzania) in 1899.

After the First World War, the region came under Belgium’s control, and in 1923 League of Nations granted the mandate of the territory of Ruanda-Urundi or the present day Rwanda and Burundi to Belgium. The Belgians ruled the colony of Ruanda-Urundi through the Tutsi nobles (Tutsi and Hutus were two rival ethnic groups in Ruanda-Urundi. Tutsi formed the elite aristocracy, while the Hutus were mainly agriculture workers). However, following the Second World War Ruanda-Urundi became a United Nation trust territory under Belgian administrative authority.

The late 1940s saw the emergence of political parties, and by the 1950s, a party called the Union for National Progress (UPRONA), which was instrumental in pressing for freedom, and separation of Ruanda-Urundi was formed. Thus, in 1962 when the Republic of Burundi was born it became a constitutional monarchy, under the Tutsi King Mwambutsa IV, and in Rwanda, Hutus won the elections. Burundi became a republic in 1966, when Prince Ntare IV, was overthrown in a military coup led by Capt. Michel Micombero.

Although even after its independence Burundi has been rife with violence, Independence Day is an occasion for Burundians to celebrate their national pride and venerate the struggles of the past.

4. What does the national flag of Burundi represent?

The present flag of Burundi was adopted in 1967 and measures 2.50m in length and 1.50m in width. The flag is square in shape, and it consists of four white diagonals that divide the flag into four triangles at the corners. While the top and bottom triangles are red in color, the triangles to the left and right are green in color.

A white circular disk with three red stars forms the center of the flag. The stars epitomize the national motto of unity, work, and progress. They also stand for the three dominant races of Burundi-Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa.

The red, green, and white colors of the flag signify the struggle for independence, hope, and peace respectively.

5. Who wrote the national anthem of Burundi?

The national anthem of Burundi titled “Burundi Bwacu,” which means “Our Burundi,” was adopted at the time of its independence in 1962. A group of writers under the leadership of a catholic priest, Jean-Baptiste Ntahokaja, wrote the lyrics, and its music was composed by Marc Barengayabo.

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