Today, we will do a Memory recall… Please enjoy this great independence speech delivered by Patrice Lumumba in 1960 to the people of Congo, few months before his assassination. It is a pure jewel! The French version is here →LUMUMBA discours. Don’t forget to watch the video!!!
Men and women of the Congo,
Victorious fighters for independence, today victorious, I greet you in the name of the Congolese Government. All of you, my friends, who have fought tirelessly at our sides, I ask you to make this June 30, 1960, an illustrious date that you will keep indelibly engraved in your hearts, a date of significance of which you will teach to your children, so that they will make known to their sons and to their grandchildren the glorious history of our fight for liberty.
For this independence of the Congo, even as it is celebrated today…
A teenage girl is seated next to her father in the house when she suddenly sees her boyfriend approaching. Knowing that her father is very strict, she decides to strike a conversation with the boyfriend.
Girl: Have you come to borrow the book titled “DAD IS IN THE HOUSE?” by Jean Pliya.
Boyfriend: No, I want your book of songs called “WHERE SHOULD I WAIT FOR YOU?” byBernard Dadié.
Girl: Oh. I don’t have it, but I have the one titled “UNDER THE MANGO TREE” byChinua Achebe.
Boyfriend: Good. But please don’t forget to bring “I WILL CALL YOU IN 5 MINUTES” byAimé Césaire, when you come to school.
The father (to his daughter): these are a lot of books, will he read them all?
Girl: Yes. He is good and excellent reader.
The father: Ok. Don’t forget to take to him the book titled, “I AM NOT STUPID, I UNDERSTOOD EVERYTHING” by Cheikh Hamidou Kane, and also the one which is called “BE READY TO GET MARRIED IF YOU GET PREGNANT” by Séverin Cécile Abega.
Below is a description of the great city of Ségou (pronounce Segu) in Mali by the Scottish explorer Mungo Park in 1795. Here he describes the city’s population density, dynamism, architecture, and even their ways of life. He amply describes the roominess and surprised sturdiness of Ségou’s canoes which could host 4 horses. Mungo Park is simply astounded by the greatness of the civilization he encounters there, and concludes, “the crowded population and the cultivated state of the surrounding country, formed altogether a prospect of civilization and magnificence, which I little expected to find in the bosom of Africa.” Note that the city is surrounded by high mud walls probably similar to the Tata of Sikasso: an African Fortifying Wall.
Sego, the capital of Bambarra, at which I had now arrived, consists, properly speaking, of four distinct towns ; two on the northern bank of the Niger, called Sego Korro, and Sego Boo and two on the southern bank, called Sego Soo Korro and Sego See Korro. They are all surrounded with high mud walls ; the houses are built of clay, of a square form, with flat roofs ; some of them have two storeys, and many of them are whitewashed.
Besides these buildings, Moorish mosques are seen in every quarter ; and the streets, though narrow, are broad enough for every useful purpose, in a country where wheel-carriages are entirely unknown. From the best enquiries I could make, I have reason to believe that Sego contains altogether about thirty thousand inhabitants. The king of Bambarra constantly resides at Sego See Korro ; he employs a great many slaves in conveying people over the river, and the money they receive (though the fare is only ten cowrie shells for each individual) furnishes a considerable revenue to the king in the course of a year. The canoes are of a singular construction, each of them being formed of the trunks of two large trees, rendered concave, and joined together, not side by side, but end ways ; the junction being exactly across the middle of the canoe ; they are therefore very long and disproportionably narrow, and have neither decks nor masts ; they are, however, very roomy ; for I observed in one of them four horses, and several people crossing over the river. When we arrived at this ferry, with a view to pass over to that part of the town in which the king resides, we found a great number waiting for a passage ; they looked at me with silent wonder, and I distinguished, with concern, many Moors among them. There were three different places of embarkation, and the ferrymen were very diligent and expeditious ; but, from the crowd of people, I could not immediately obtain a passage ; and sat down upon the bank of the river, to wait for a more favourable opportunity The view of this extensive city ; the numerous canoes upon the river ; the crowded population and the cultivated state of the surrounding country, formed altogether a prospect of civilization and magnificence, which I little expected to find in the bosom of Africa.
Given all the negative rhetoric played by the foreign media, I thought it will be good to remind all of Pierre Nkurunziza‘s achievements. I will focus mostly on his work within his country of Burundi. As we saw earlier, internationally he helped broker peace in Somalia.
A popular president
A president in office doing manual work, taking part in soccer games, had never been seen before. This president, Pierre Nkurunziza, was not a “traditional” president in his white marble castle, but was seen rather as a simple man, a man of the people, a man like the people he served. He was seen cycling, and taking part in community work. He was also an avid soccer player and lover; he owned a soccer team and trained them.
Free education and health
During his investiture, some of his first adopted measures were free primary school education (i.e. from Kindergarten through 6th grade), free childbirth, and free health for all children under 5. This might not be seen as much, but in a poor country such as Burundi, free primary school education definitely increases the literacy of the people and offers parents very needed help. Similarly, free health services for women during childbirth, and for children under 5 is a tremendous help. This is an achievement not seen in many places in the world, not even in Western countries.
A religious president
Nkurunziza was not afraid to show his faith. He was deeply religious. For each public event, or manual work, prayers were said at the beginning and at the end of these events. This led him to put God first in the constitution of the country, as well as establishing a day of national solidarity.
He deeply loved his country Burundi and his people. He pushed for ancient local cultures and values long forgotten to be re-instated and taught in schools. He established the national day of the commune which is celebrated in the old fashion.
During his tenure, from 2007 to 2014,5200 schools were built, compared to 1900 schools from 1962 to 2007. Several roads were asphalted and created RN12, RN13, RN15, RN18, RN19, … Hospitals and community universities, classrooms, stadiums, modern markets, including the new Ntare Rushatsi presidential palace were erected.
Most importantly, he is the first president of Burundi to have ruled the country without a civil war.
So long Pierre Nkurunziza: we, the people, salute your patriotism, love of your country, and people. You will be remembered for your great achievements.
This past Monday, the relatively young (55 years-old) president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, died of a heart attack. It deeply saddened me. Why? Because of what he stood for, and his will to give decency to his own people or rather to govern his country without foreign involvement in their affairs. Pierre Nkurunziza was the first president of Burundi to have ruled without civil war.
With this global ‘pandemic,’ It has finally been understood that whatever the West calls democracy is not really democracy, but rather the government of the entirepopulation by a few. In the past, people have said that Pierre Nkurunziza was not a democrat and was holding onto power. Yet… he had been in power 15 years due to step down in August, and I did not hear the West complain about his neighbor Kagame in power for over 20 years. It is as if democracy is a word or rather a card pulled out of a bucket by Western powers to threaten those who prefer to do the bidding of the people rather than their bidding.
Given that he had asked the UN to get out of his country last year, and then last month the WHO, and was one of the few countries to get out of the WHO because of their compromising and virulent tendencies in his country… is it a surprise that he died so suddenly?
Nobody talks about his achievements. What were Pierre Nkurunziza’s achievements?
Upon assuming office in 2005, Nkurunziza faced the significant challenges of maintaining peace and stability in the country, as well as rebuilding its war-battered economy. Burundi was emerging from over 10 years of civil war and unrest when he took over.
He united the country and brought in peace, during his first 10 years.
He rebuilt the infrastructures of his country, and oversaw the disarmament of several armed groups in Burundi.
He helped foster peace in the region: in 2007, he sent troops to Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission to prevent al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked armed group, from overrunning the Horn of Africa country’s government.
The East African Community, a regional bloc, said in a statement: “Nkurunziza’s contribution to the re-establishment of constitutional order, peace, ethnic tranquility, rights and equality for all since his ascendancy to power in 2005 in Burundi cannot be overemphasised.”
“His commitment to security and rights for all irrespective of social, ethnic, religious or political background remains a beacon on which Burundians can build on to further their development objectives,” it added.
In 2015, Nkurunziza made the controversial decision to seek a third term in office. A coup was launched in May 2015 while Nkurunziza was abroad, but it was swiftly foiled. Despite several delays, an opposition boycott, and ‘international’ pressure (we know what that means), polls were held and Nkurunziza won a third term. After the 2015 elections, the situation took a turn for the worse, when donors cut off funding and placed sanctions on Burundi (similar to Côte d’Ivoire when France was bombing it in 2010, or Libya with the NATO coalition in 2011, or Zimbabwe). History repeats itself, we now know that when a country is placed under ‘international’ sanctions, it is usually because the leader might be serving his people.
In 2017, Nkurunziza formally withdrew Burundi from the International Criminal Court (ICC) – the first country to do so – amid accusations the court was focusing too much on the continent. Every African country should withdraw from that sham called ICC which only prosecutes African (Black) leaders. Later the UN left (remember ONUCI taking sides in Côte d’Ivoire?), and BBC and VOA were kicked out of the country for inciting violence, and spreading false news.
In the streets of Bujumbura, “some residents said they would remember the former leader [avid football player], a born-again Christian known for his preaching, for the good things he did for their country.”
“I will remember him for the advice he gave us. He always told us to love our country. He always put God first and someone who does that will not face hardships in life,” Achel Niyongere told Al Jazeera.
Patrick Harakandi added: “He is the first president to govern Burundi until he finished his term. He made history. He ruled Burundi for 15 years without a civil war.” (Al Jazeera)
I remember dancing to the tunes of “Yé ké yé ké” as a child… I also have fond memories of seeing Mory Kante play his kora, and being amazed by his dexterity, finesse, and charisma. Every note transported me to different horizons. It did not matter that I did not understand his language, I could feel the emotions he conveyed with his voice and kora… it was like magic: one could travel all the way to Guinea and back within the confines of one’s room.
On May 22, 2020, an honorable member of the Griot (Djeli) family, Mory Kante, moved to the land of his ancestors. In reality, he just changed dimensions, and left us with the electricity of his music. Born in 1950 in a small town near Kissidougou in Guinea, Mory Kante came from a long family tradition of griots (Djeli). Both of his parents were griots, his father was from Guinea and his mother from MaliMory absorbed the singing of his parents and as a child learned to play the balafon. As a child, his family sent him to Mali to study the kora and other griot traditions.
Mory Kante is often known as the “electronic griot” because he modernized local traditional instruments such as his kora which he electrified, and fused African music with styles and instruments from Western pop. Kante’s 1987 single “Ye Ke Ye Ke” was a hit, first in Africa and then across Europe. It became the first African single to sell more than a million copies and has been licensed frequently for commercials and film soundtracks. It has even been reworked by other musicians into German techno, Bollywood film music and Chinese Cantopop.
If you ever come across a kora, or listen to Ye Ke Ye Ke remember this great man who modernized the ancient ways to share with us his love of the music of his forefathers. His music has inspired countless singers from the new generation. The New York Times , BBC, and Guardian have written articles about this great man.
More than a writer, Francis Bebey was also a musician. Below is a video where Francis Bebey introduces the viewer to the one-note flute, and the communication system invented by the pygmy peoples of Central Africa to converse with each other using that instrument. As I told you earlier, Francis Bebey headed the music department at the UNESCO‘s office in Paris, where he focused on researching and documenting African traditional music. Enjoy a lesson from the maestro!