Blogs from Bujumbura, West, Burundi, Africa


Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura July 16th 2013

Bujumbura When we planned this trip we updated ourselves on the safety situation in Burundi. All the travel advise we could find said that travelling in the country was not a great idea but the capital should be reasonably safe. So we initially decided not to venture outside of Bujumbura, Burundi's capital. We then thought two days in Burundi was going to be enough because Bujumbura does not have a great deal of attractions to keep us happy for longer than that. But when we arrived in Bujumbura we met up with, Justine. Justine is a Burundian and she said that the foreign ministry's travel recommendations are exaggerated and that it is quite safe to travel in Burundi as long as you don't walk around by yourself at night. So we decided to stay a little ... read more
Diving into Lake Tanganyika
Bujumbura Cathedral
Bujumbura Cathedral

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura July 18th 2012

I must admit, I came with a bit of fear. It seems safe, but there's peacekeepers everywhere ... well, international troops for several contingents in the hotel lobby for sure. The drive in was on a surprisingly good road ... I was expecting big parts to be gravel and other parts to be pot holed ... but, though it was mountainous and thus windy and narrow, the road surface itself was decent. Tomorrow I head south to the Tanzanian border near Kigoma ... close to Ujiji, where some self-promoting journalist met up with a missionary who was trying to stop the slave trade ... Supposedly that first meeting was actually close to Buj, about 5km south of where I'm now. I was planning to going to that spot, but the taxi driver had other ideas. Needless ... read more
Road side stalls
Border crossing
Bus after border crossing

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura June 10th 2012

The drive from Kigali to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi took about 6 hours. For some reason, Burundi only allows tourists get a 3 day visa at the border for $40. To get a month visa, you must apply in advance and pay $90. It didn’t make much of a difference to me, as I only planned on spending a couple of days there, but it seems ridiculous that Burundi would try to hinder the few tourists to make the effort to get there. The drive through Burundi was quite spectacular. It was all winding roads through mountains and very rural land. We were stopped for a while just before Bujumbura, as the police tried to get a bribe out of the driver. On the bus, I met Lambert from Kigali, who spoke very good English. ... read more
Come On You Boys In Green!!

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura January 19th 2012

N'Amahoro, After almost five months in the US, I've finally found my way back to Burundi for more research. Hooray! My favorite bit of news so far is that there's an "Acid Bug" (also known as "Nairobi Fly") infestation in Bujumbura. While they don't bite, they do secrete acid onto your skin if you touch them. Fantastic. If I develop blisters all over my body, at least I'll know where they came from. August As it turns out, I never blogged about my last month in Burundi. So, I will quickly catch everyone up. Most of August, was spent working in the prison, which I can only describe as both fascinating and emotionally draining. Mpimba prison is a rough place. One year, food shortages prompted the prisoners to riot and set the front building on fire ... read more
Musée Vivant
Musée Vivant

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura October 10th 2011

So in a matter of hours we will negotiate the bizarre rituals of the Bujumbura traffic to head to the airport and leave Burundi for the last time. It has been a testing, exciting, unexpected and bizarre experience but it is also time to move on. Ahead of us are four months of adventure and for those who want to follow what we get up to then this is the place! ... read more

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura July 18th 2011

I'm lazy. The result is that I haven't blogged in a month... but I'm back! It's been an interesting few weeks, here in Bujumbura. One of the most fascinating things about my interviews is how people construct Burundi's past. I could probably group people into current political affiliations based on their renditions of history - who was responsible for most of the killing during the war, which rebel groups were better, who were the best and worst presidents, when the division between Hutus and Tutsis began... And, believe me, there are some very different ways to tell the history of Burundi. That's not so different from any of us, actually - the details we highlight from the past shape how we see and understand the world today. "A man's called a traitor or a liberator. A ... read more

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura July 1st 2011

Peter Piper picked a peck of pili peppers. Yes, I said pili peppers. The Challenge I'm not sure where to begin this latest blog, so I think I'll start with the most recent event: the pili pili eating competition. Those of you who know me know that I love spicy food. There's very little that's too spicy for me to stomach, and I'm always up to the challenge of trying something new. So when my friend Seth claimed he was the only American he knew that could eat a whole pili... one question came to mind: are you sure about that? In many parts of Africa, it's common to be served pili pili (or piment) with a meal... a kind of hot sauce derived from the African chili - delicious on almost everything, in my opinion. ... read more
Tailors in the Market
The Lake at Night

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura June 16th 2011

Hello, hello. I’ve officially been living in Burundi for two weeks, now. Hard to believe! Life in Buja has been pretty great. My research is going well, so far. For better or worse, my questions about violence in the country are becoming increasingly pertinent, which means there’s a lot of information. I’m also learning how to navigate daily life here. I’m not sure what I expected when I came to this country, but I’m pretty sure what I’ve found is not what I anticipated when I got on the plane. Every day, I wonder if my view of Burundi is becoming clearer or more muddled. I wish I knew… Research Burundi has a relatively tight-knit community of NGOs, consultants, researchers, and academics - everyone seems to know everyone. One person can give you more contacts than ... read more
Audifax and Josiah
The Bus

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura June 15th 2011

Me: It was a fiasco. Do you know this word? Audifax: How do you say it? Me: fee-AS-co. Audifax: Hm. What does it mean? fee-AS-co. Me: It means ‘a total mess.’ When everything goes wrong, you say it was a fiasco. Audifax: Ah, fiasco… The harshest lessons I’ve learned to date: never take a picture without permission, and try hard not to give your number to people – even if you need to talk to them for research. No Photographs, Please Saturday was a strange day from the very beginning. I had been roped into walking around the neighborhood with a man named Desire, who I originally interviewed to learn about the peace organization he worked for. Unfortunately, he seemed to have very little information for me. Worse, he now had my phone number; every night ... read more
Permission for Research!
Under Construction

Africa » Burundi » West » Bujumbura May 31st 2011

The Blog Hello, hello! I've been in Burundi for two days, and I believe it's time to begin blogging. I am typically an unreliable blogger - I skip details and post pretty rarely; but, this time is different (I can feel it). I hope this site will serve as a way for me to share my impressions, and experiences, among other things, while I'm in the great country of Burundi. Josiah and I are living just outside of Buja while we begin research for our PhD dissertations - it's the first trip for each of us, but won't be the last. We live here with Jean-Pierre, our guard, and a dog named Burton (Bwegu, in Kirundi). Another PhD student and her husband (Cara and James) used to live in this house, and set us both up ... read more

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