October 13 – Rwagasore Day in Burundi

Posted October 13, 2016

Today is the anniversary of the death of Burundi's national hero, the guy associated with this African nation's independence: Prince Louis Rwagasore.

When I think of European nations that colonized the world, I think of England and Spain, of course. Right after that, I think of Portugal and France and the Netherlands...and...and Germany.

But I totally didn't remember that Belgium, too, colonized a few regions of Africa, including the areas now called the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi.

Prince Louis Rwagasore was the son of King Mwambutsa IV. He started to attend university in Belgium, but then he dropped out to work with other activists in an independence movement against Belgian rule. He started a cooperatives to encourage economic independence of Belgium – but the Belgian government banned such co-ops. Then he started a political movement called UPRONA. He tried to plead with fellow Burundians not to allow the colonial government to “divide and conquer” the Africans by turning ethnic group against ethnic group. He challenged Burunidans to boycott Belgian stores and to refuse to pay taxes to the colonial rulers.

All of these sound like peaceful civil disobedience, the kinds of actions made famous by people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Nelson Mandela.

Of course, the Belgian rulers didn't think such calls for civil disobedience made Rwagasore a hero – they thought they made him a troublemaker. He was placed under house arrest.

Still, UPRONA and Rwagasore won in a landslide in the election of 1961, and Rwagasore was declared Prime Minister. He had a mandate to prepare Burundi for independence...

And then...

One of Burundi's postage stamps
pays homage to, not just their own
assassinated leader, but also the
assassinated U.S. President John F.
Rwagasore was assassinated on this date in 1961!

The assassin was a Greek man who was accompanied by three members of a pro-Belgian political party. Some suggest that the Belgian colonial government had Rwagasore killed, but an official investigation into this possibility never happened.

Of course, Burundi still became independent, the very next year. A person can be killed, but often it is very difficult to kill an idea.

Here are some of the best in Burundi! Enjoy!

Karera Falls

Lake Tanganyika 
Kigwena Natural Forest

Also on this date:

English Language Day

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