Geography Now! Burundi

Geography Now! Burundi


Have any of you seen the movie “Hotel Rwanda”? Okay, so for, like, the 2 of you that have, reverse the tribes, flip the script backwards, and that’s basically Burundi. (“Geography Now” opening jingle) It’s time to learn geography – NOW! Hey everybody, I’m your host Barby. Today is our last country beginning with the letter “B”! And that means let’s finish this up with some style, and with style I mean “let’s follow the exact same format that we’ve been doing this whole time”. Let’s dissect the flag. (slot machine noises) The map is divided into 4 parts by a white diagonal cross; the upper and lower parts are red in color, while the left and right ones are green. The white color of the cross represents peace. The green represents the nation’s hope and endeavours for future development. And the red symbolizes the suffering of the nation during the freedom struggle. The 3 stars in the triangular configuration stand for the 3 major ethnic groups of Burundi – the Hutu, the Tutsi, and the Twa. Even though the Twa only make up about 1% of the population, but we’ll talk about that later. The 3 stars also stand for the 3 parts of the national motto: umbumwe, ibikorwa, and iterambere, which in the Kirundi language means “unity, work, and progress.” Despite the fact that unity has kind of been a hot-button issue in this country for a while – We’ll talk about that later. But first: Okay, so Burundi is kind of small, yet compact, yet widespread. Let’s expound on that. First of all, if Lake Victoria was the eye of Africa, Burundi would be like the tear drop of Africa. Shaped like an arrow pointing down, Burundi is one of the smallest African countries; landlocked, located in east central Africa, bordered by Tanzania to the east and south, Rwanda to the north, and a comfortably narrow slot with the Democratic Republic of Congo to the north and west. The remainder of the western part of the country is surrounded by Lake Tanganyika. Which, by the way, used to be the former name of Tanzania. The country is divided into 18 provinces, each one named after the capital that resides in it. Except for Bujumbura Rural, whose capital is Isale. Each province is also populated with a near proportionate ratio of residents, each one with about half a million residents. Yeah, Burundi did a real good job spreading out. The capital is Bujumbra, located on the northwest coast of Lake Tanganyika, and a stone’s throw away from the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s kinda funny though, because a lot of Burundi’s borders, especially with Tanzania, are kind of like partial river borders in which they touch a river, but then Burundi is like, “Eh! I think I’ll claim this nearby creek instead and then connect right back to the river again.” Or maybe Tanzania is just kinda grabby. Tanzania: “My river! Mine!” Otherwise, Burundi’s borders are incredibly open to their neighbors, often times unmarked and virtually invisible, as it straddles farm fields and unified towns and communities that really don’t care about distinguishing their nationalistic separations. Now, because Burundi is so small and compact, they have a wide web of road networks that surge throughout every corner of the country. Many of which Google Maps does a horrible job of tracing and documenting. This makes them unique in that, in Burundi, pretty much all of the country’s accessible and navigable by road. Burundi is pretty straight forward in its domain. Small and compact. I mean, there are roughly 5 times more people in Burundi than Botswana, and yet the country is 23 times smaller area-wise. After Rwanda, Burundi is the 2nd most densely packed land country in Africa. This means that Burundi actually has a lot more potential for dispursed cultivation. And let’s talk about that in: (earthquake rumbling) (bird caws) When thinking about Burundi, you kinda have to picture something like a factory. Every area is used for something, and the entire thing is moving all at once. First of all, the country lies on the east African rift, which includes the Kagera River, the most remote headstream and speculated source of the Nile River. Yup, it all starts here. The land mostly in the west and north is hilly and mountainous and as you go to the east, the area kinda drops into a plateau. The majority of the land is used for pasture and agricultural prodcution. Due to the high population density and yet the widespread dispersion of the people, deforestation has actually been a major issue, as only about 600 square kilometers of natural untouched forests remains in the country. Alright, here’s the thing. You know how in high school you had to learn the periodic table? Well, somewhere between the alkalines and the hallogens, you came across that horrible mess of unrecalled metals consigned to oblivion? Well, Burundi has those elements! The country has quite a few known deposits of elements, like: Vanadium, Niobium, Tantalum, and yes, even a little bit of Molybdenum. Look, I try my best to pronounce location names, but when it comes to chemistry, I have no standards, people. Okay, we don’t have time to calculate the covalente bond of electron sequences, okay? That ain’t my job! Look, I could go on with physical geography, but let’s be honest, you pretty much know what I’m gonna say. Cash crops like coffee and tea are grown, 60% agriculture GDP, 90% subsistence farming dependent, yadi yadi yada… Let’s just cut to the chase. The people of this country are really what define it, and let’s talk about that. (conch shell) Okay, so here is where things are gonna get a little crazy. Because Burundi has kinda been in a little bit of a pickle for a while now. The country has a little over 10 million people, making Burundi one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. The majority of the population, about 83%, are from the Hutu tribe. And about 16% are from the Tutsi tribe. Pay attention, because soon we’re gonna explain how these 2 people groups, the Hutus and Tutsis, have greatly shaped and molded the political-social structure of this entire country, and not only that, but also areas around the region. Finally, you have a really small minority of people from the Twa tribe, whom are kind of regarded as the bush people. And a couple thousands of whites and Asians living in the country to round things up. Okay, so in order to understand how Burundi functions, you kinda have to know 2 things. 1: Who exactly are the Hutus and Tutsis? And 2: You have to know a little bit of history. I’ll try to break it down in the fastest way I can, because if you’re like me, you just wanna get to the point. Hutus and Tutsis are basically indistinguishable from each other and came from the same people group. Many Burundians and Rwandans will tell you that the perpetuated stereotype is that Hutus are a little bit shorter and stockier, with wider-built bodies used for manual labor. While Tutsis are taller and leaner, with svelte psyiques used for adorning themselves with beautiful garbs of the high class. I don’t wanna say, in the most extreme sense, think of “Lord of the Rings” elves and dwarves, but… yeah. The thing is, it all pretty much started with class and not ethnicity. Hundreds of years ago, anybody who pretty much built up wealth and status, pretty much just automatically became a Tutsi, even if they affiliated with the Hutu tribe prior. It’s pretty much just a social structure. Both Hutus and Tutsis speak relatively the same language, the only difference is that Rwandan Hutus and Tutsis, they have a slightly different dialect. But it’s totally mutually understandable. Essentially, after a short 20 year unsuccesful stint by the Germans, Burundi was under Belgian colonization. Kind of. It was more like a king’s land, rather than a colony. Until independence in 1962. Historically, the Hutus always had larger numbers in populus in Burundi, however, Tutsis retained most of the political dominance in the area. And it all had to do with the fact that the Tutsis had a kingdom. And when you have a kingdom, that means you have – POOOWEERR!! The Belgians kinda catered to the local social structures, and enabled the Tutsis to maintain their ruling influence. And you can probably guess what happens next in this scenario. Yeah, when colonizers leave their colonies, things get pretty crazy pretty fast. Essentially, this led to the Burundian genocide. I’m not gonna get into too much detail, but essentially, the quickest way I can put this: for 20 years it was the Tutsis pushing down the Hutus, then for about 10 years, it was the Hutus pushing down the Tutsis. And then finally, in 2005, it subsided. Kind of. But then recently…. yeah…. Okay, let’s move on. French and Kirundi are the official languages, however, English and Swahili are widely taught. Most citizens are polyglots, with trilingual or quadrilingual capabilities. Learning all 4 languages in elementary and middle school. Yeah, in Africa, you gotta get them while they’re young. Here’s the thing. For the longest time, Burundi used to have a monarchy, and today still kind of does, even though most of the royal house is in exile. I mean, Princess Esther Kamatari ran for president in 2005, but it didn’t quite fall through. And then you have the Hutu president, Pierre Nkurunziza. Okay, so look guys, you’re gonna start seeing a pattern going on in Africa and it kinda goes like this: Term 1, having fun. Term 2, watching you. Term 3, felony. Term 4? Oh, you gonna get assasinated. Essentially, Nkurunziza just broke the constitution and went for a 3rd term, causing an uproar for both Hutus and Tutsis. This resulted in the exodus of over 100,000 Burundians. One of which helped me with this video! Thanks Renovat! Speaking of helping people – Have you had a friend who was so dramatic about their ex that they just broke up with, that they kept using you as a crutch for consolation, and for a while you tried to console them for as much as you could. But then you kinda got a little tired of all their calls at 2:45 A.M., and then you put an embargo on them? Yeah, that’s kind of like Burundi. Burundi is… dramatic. Since independence from Belgium, the country has pretty much either been in a constant state of internal conflict or straight-up civil war. Although some years were a little bit more calm and peaceful in comparison to others. Overall, there’s this perpetual looming ambiance of tension that covers the entire area to this day. This is partially the reason why Burundi doesn’t really have a wide tourism sector. It’s kinda like being invited to dinner. At your Italian cousin Vito’s house. On poker night. You know somebody’s leaving in a body bag. And hey, I can say that, because I’m part Italian, okay? And I’m pretty sure somewhere I have a cousin Vito. Burundi used to have pretty good relations with all their neighbors, but after the whole civil war thing, a hundreds of thousands of Burundians have fled the country all over the world, but most heavily in their immediate neighbors. And the most, over 300,000, in Tanzania. Now, if you don’t know anything about Tanzania, Tanzania is kind of like the big, chill, happy-go-lucky uncle of Africa. They have over 120 tribes that they have more or less kind of successfully coalesced into a unified nation. That’s kind of impressive! So when Burundians came over, Tanzania initially was like “Yeah, no worries, we’ll help!” But then things got really messy, Burundian rebels used Tanzania and other states as bases for insurgent activities, accusations were made, and finally, Tanzania, along with other countries were like, “Look, Burundi, you gotta get some stuff sorted out. Until then, we’re putting an embargo on you.” Burundi was like: “Okay, fine! I will! Geez!” And in 1999, the embargo was lifted and relations have gotten better. Kind of. I don’t know. Well, whatever. Belgium, of course, has relatively good relations with Burundi. Despite some unfavorable historical incidences that leave a sour taste in their mouths, but eh, they’ve moved on. Embassies exist in both nations and numerous Burundians live abroad and are born in Belgium. Suprisingly, South Korea is a good friend. After the genocide ended in 1993, Korea stepped in and it was like, “Hey, we get the whole nationalistic division thing – you wanna hang out?” And since then, they’ve developed good ties and relations. In terms of their best friend, however, most Burundians would probably say Rwanda. Rwanda is pretty much like the conjoined twin of Burundi. They share so much culturally, linguistically, and diplomatically that it’s often hard to tell the two apart. The only difference is that Rwanda is currently led under a predominant Tutsi government, and Burundi under Hutu. But even then, it’s basically just like you’re going to your brother’s house. After centuries of kingdoms, empires, wars, colonies, and drama, these 2 countries have always been with each other and more or less love each other. In conclusion, yes, Burundi does have some stuff they gotta sort out, however, it’s not completely unredeemable, and hopefully they get back on track, because that lakeshore looks like a pretty cool getaway. FINALLY! WE’RE DONE WITH THE “B’S”! That took like a year! Cambodia is coming up next! (upbeat music)

100 thoughts on “Geography Now! Burundi

  1. This was a very good !!! I liked it! However you mix burundi's history with rwandan history and it's understandable!!we are soo similar!! rwanda was a confederation of small kingdoms and chieftains with hutu and tusti kings , Burundi however wasn't a tusti kingdom but a kingdom ruled by ganwas, who are still considered a etnic group of their own. And after the colonizers left the president who did a coup d'état to dethrone the king (ndayizeye the son of mwabutsa, i think) was Micombero a "hima" another ethinc group who had been marginalized during the kingdom era. I sincerely hope tho that this labels (hutu , tutsi, twa, hima and ganwa) are becoming more and more irrelevant!!! And by the way this where indeed ethnic groups and not social classes but ethnic groups that had mixed and blended over centuries to the point of having one language and one culture, in Burundi what mattered was your clan ( big family) not ethinc group.

  2. Tutsi were originally pretty ethnically / genetically different people from the Hutu, but then came ages of coexistence and intermarriages, and then the Belgians bwanas came along with passports and birth certificates that included the ethnicity (which was written down on the basis of social status, not DNA tests, not that they did have any at the time).

  3. 2018 anyone? Burundi is a very beautiful country too, the tourism sector has widely developed. Visit Burundi you'll love our beaches, food, smiles and hospitality <3

  4. 1. Why are we always obsessed with minerals? Before Bob Marley & The Wailors; Burundi enchanted the world with their traditional drummers (Abatimbo). Burundi also has good food especially the cassava leaves or Sombe with palm oil, Ndagala, Burobe fufu, Samaki and the red sweet bananas).

    2. The royal aristocrats in Burundi claim to be in a different ethnic class called ABAGANWA (not Tutsi).

    3. Louis Rwagasore, the country's independence hero won the first democratic elections when both Tutsi and Hutu voted en masse for his party. He was a nationalist at core just like Nyerere in Tanzania but he was shortly assassinated by the Belgians. All their problems started from that moment.

    4. Burundi is considered the poorest nation in the world.

    5. Burundi lost a bit of its territory, to Tanzania (then Tanganyika) – the Bugufi region. The Tanzanian people of Kasulu and Kigoma (Buha chiefdom, the land of pop musician Diamond) speak a language similar to Kirundi.

    6. Rwanda – Urundi was once a united German protectorate or country but the greedy kings voted to regain their pre-colonial territories. Funny how less homogeneous and multi-ethnic colonies like Tanzania, Nigeria or Kenya successfully handled their marriage at that time.

  5. Burundi has coltan mines, Korea has Samsung. Smartphones require lots of coltan. Friendship established. (Just a theory of mine)

  6. How I describe Burundi:

    Rwanda is standing on its smaller brother Burundi

    Tanzania is pushing in the 2 inland

    The DRC is squishing them in and now he lives in a compaced and weird family

  7. Superb video as a Belgian with Burundi’s roots myself I am impressed by how relevant knowledge about Burundi and it’s complicated history has been delivered

  8. The 3 stars originaly were : God,The King, The Country ( Imana, Umwami, Uburundi) later changed to Union ,Work, Progress..
    It was never based on the ”3 tribes” like many like to think… In Burundi there is only one language, one culture…
    those ”3 tribes” came to be with colonisation in the name of ” divide to conquer” by the coloniser.

  9. This is honestly one of the most fascinating country videos Paul has ever done (high praise indeed), and I can't believe I haven't watched it until today.

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  11. 5:28 Personally, I like to think of it like the Tweedys from Chicken Run (the Hutus being Mr. Tweedy, and the Tutsis being Mrs. Tweedy).

  12. 2:25 "when colonizers leave their colonies things start to get messy"
    really? they are the main reason of the rwandan genocides and the wars til today.

  13. This Episode is OUTDATED.
    Wanna know why?
    Because the Old Capital used to be Bujumbura.
    But the New Capital However is Gitega.
    Thats why this episode is OUTDATED.

  14. Hi, I am Burundian and l am happy about your video. Keep it up. I am impressed by honesty. And thanks for speaking about my country. We speak many languages. Let me name some you didn't mention such as lingala from Democratic Republic of Congo. Kinyarwanda similar to Kirundi, some other related to French among which Spanish and Portugese.

  15. I was born in Burundi (Tutsi) and grew up in Germany, so I didn’t knew/learn much geographic facts about Burundi. Thank U for this educational experience ♥️🇧🇮♥️

  16. This guy is a bit ignorant, Tutsis and Hutu are two distinct folks, it is why they fought, they are not the same folks and it has very little to do with colonialism. This is 70 AD STUFF.

  17. Hahah your pronunciation hahah loved it hahah I’m proud you talked about my country you’re too underrated

  18. Bro. Your content is gold. When we make money we will definitely contribute to your patreon.

  19. Hotel Rwanda is a brilliant film if you can get your hands on it I definitely recommend you watching it.

  20. 2:09. I would guess that the river changed course since the borders were established. A similar situation occurs along the Mississippi in the USA with state borders.

  21. There is a belief Tarzan and his wife left their child in Burundi. Tarzan is one of my favorite movie and cartoon.

  22. 3:50 (starts Geography Now theme) IT'S TIME TO LEARN CHEMISTRY.. NOW

    And I have an uncle Vito…. I'm pretty sure that every italian or guy with italian origins has an uncle Vito

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