Narratives Of Ethnic And Political Conflict In Burundian Sites Of Persuasion
Since Burundi’s independence from Belgium in 1962, the country has suffered greatly from ethnic violence. The mass violence of the 1990s between the Hutu and Tutsi was especially brutal and all-encompassing, touching the lives of nearly every Burundian, shattering the institutions and economy of the country, and escalating conflicts in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and across the African Great Lakes region. In Burundi, however, there is no official, state-sanctioned narrative or museum of the past, nor is there a particular coherence to government-supported memorials. Instead, this chapter argues, the memorials built by the Burundian government since independence have reflected the narratives about the conflict espoused by the party in power at the time the memorial was built, but have not advocated for a particular national historical memory of past violence. Burundian sites of persuasion reflect local partisan and sectarian narratives, not national-level narratives, and are the result of highly contradictory local efforts to commemorate and memorialize genocide and ethnic violence. These sites of persuasion, moreover, are not positioned for an international audience to promote tourism (such as in Rwanda), but are built for a national and local audience in this small but densely populated country of 11.2 million people.