‘Young Pioneers for Peace’ committed to promoting peace after 2015 violence in Burundi

A group of 15 youth from Muha Commune in Bujumbura initiated ‘Young Pioneers for Peace’ to promote peace in Burundi. Their goal is to break the prejudice between young people affiliated to different political parties so as to prevent violence.

Barricades erected by protesters against President Pierre Nkurunziza 2015 reelection in Jabe, Bujumbura

Barricades erected by protesters against President Pierre Nkurunziza 2015 reelection in Jabe, Bujumbura

By the end of 2015, a group of 15 youth people affiliated to different political parties in Muha Commune, Bujumbura, decided to call upon other youth to fight for peace.

The group was created while Burundi was going through a political crisis erupted on 26 April 2015 when the ruling CNDD-FDD officially announced the candidacy of President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2015 presidential elections. Some members of civil society and party members of the opposition had gone down the streets to protest Nkurunziza’s candidacy, which they claimed was unconstitutional.

Aliakim Nkurunziza, a member of FNL of the coalition of opposition political parties Amizero Y’Abarundi and one of the founding members of ‘Young Pioneers for Peace’, says given the situation that was prevailing in the country, the role of young people was prominent to fight for peace. “We noticed that young people who were being manipulated by politicians faced a great danger. That is the reason why we wanted to prevent divisions while it was not too late, “says Nkurunziza, adding that they were observing very disturbing cases of political and ethnic tensions among young people.

“We were able to come together and analyze the major issues young people are really facing. We realized that young people face serious problems of unemployment and poverty. We decided to fight for young people’s common interests, “says Nkurunziza.

He also says since then, those young people have decided to promote peace that will lead them to sustainable development. As he points out, “there is no sustainable development without peace. So, to fight against unemployment and poverty, we must first promote peace.”

Nkurunziza regrets that many young people were involved in violence while they earned nothing. The events of 2015 taught me a lesson I will never forget. Young people were involved in crimes for politicians’ interest.

For him, all young people should realize that when they are manipulated by politicians, they fight for politicians’ interest only. “Often when politicians reach their goals, they do no longer remember the young people who helped them get there,” says Nkunzimana. He calls on young people to use their force in building the country instead of destroying it.

P.M, a member of the youth wing of ruling CNDD-FDD living in Kanyosha Zone, reports that the first day he attended the meeting of ‘Young Pioneers for Peace’, he was scared as he met the youth of Musaga, one of Bujumbura zone considered as anti-Nkurunziza reelection in 2015.

“I remember when we were in a meeting at the Source du Nil Hotel, I was afraid and I did not dare speak. But in the evening we became friends. I kept their contacts, “he says. He says thanks to his participation in the meeting to promote peace, he feels free. “I no longer have prejudices against members of the opposition political parties,” says P. M

‘Messages of peace through sketches’

The 15 members of this group decided to organize sketches to deliver messages of peace. Nkurunziza is pleased that “many young people have attended those sketches and have become proud to engage in promoting peace as well.

Nkurunziza says they had planned to teach a large number of young people about peace, but they lack financial means to achieve their goal. He says the last event they organized dates on January 2017.

“We plan to perform sketches at least once a month in all neighborhoods of Bujumbura capital, and then in the provinces but we still do not have the means, “says Nkurunziza.

P.M says they fail to reach their goal for the lack of financial means. He calls for support. “We are strong, but we lack financial means. Our goal is to break the prejudices between young people, “says L.P

Kwizera Dieudonne, a member of ‘Young Pioneers for Peace’ calls on human rights organizations and the government to support young people engaged in promoting peace. “Young people have strength. If they do not use it to build the country, they will use it for destruction and violence, “says Kwizera.