Nivyabandi (C) leads a group of women in a protest in Burundi. (Courtesy)
It’s nearly a year since unrest started simmering in the neighbouring Burundi. The conflict has seen hundreds of thousands of Burundians fleeing their country, while at home, some hundreds have been killed.Calls for peace by activists are gaining international attention with vigils being held in different capitals across the globe in memory of lives lost and calling for an end to the unrest. Ketty Nivyabandi, a Burundian poet, has been one of the most vocal activists calling for respect to human rights and an amicable end to the crisis. The New Times’ Collins Mwai had an email interaction with Nivyabandi on the state of Burundi, role and response to activism as well as suggestions on the way forward.
For months, there have been several campaigns and vigils, with activists calling on the world not to turn their backs on Burundi. Do you think these campaigns are yielding any fruits?
There have been many efforts to bring awareness to what is happening in Burundi indeed, the majority of them are social media-based, which is the only avenue left for most Burundians to communicate.
Independent media has been shut down and most human rights organisations have been suspended. It’s obvious that a ‘hashtag’ will not change the world, but in the case of landlocked Burundi, social media has been able to relay information in a way that is both new and powerful.
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