Germaine Blezio

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Between utopia and reality.

How to evoke this Forum, without disguising what we experienced and felt so strongly, without forgetting neither the light nor the dust, nor the discussions nor the excursions, nor the tastes nor the colors of Burundi, nor the rabbit with the beer nor plantain bananas Inspired by the French writer Raymond Queneau writing his "Exercises of Style", let's try several text tones!

In the purely factual mode ("give us facts ... nothing but facts!"), It would give: "Eight years after the Arusha Peace Accords that ended twelve years of civil war, in a rebuilding Burundi patiently, the belgian-burundian NGO IRIBA, "the source" in kirundi, organized from August 1st to 21st the sixth edition of its "North-South Youth Forum for the reconstruction of Burundi". The place? Three kilometers from Ngozi, in the northern hills of the country, at the edge of the red dirt road that goes to Mugomera, on land offered by the communal administration. The goal? Begin the construction of a Youth Center to be completed in five years, with a multipurpose room, a library, an Internet room, sports fields ... Activities? The construction site, seminars, creative workshops, intercultural evenings ...

The real goal? Prepare young people from North and South, from three continents: Africa, America, Europe ... to a world of justice and peace.

And on the humoristic-culinary mode,

it could be: Choose carefully forty young Burundians (es), some Congolese (es), eight Belgians and four ... Quebecers (es). Make sure you have a balanced mix of girls and boys. Shake them carefully on a bus every morning to soften them, on the red dirt road, before and after the construction.

Then, roast them gently all morning, to carry earth, branches, stones and water, to obtain a beautiful golden complexion at the Europeans and Americans ... Let them marinate then, every afternoon, during a good three hours, in an intellectual bath (training seminars) or cultural (creative workshops).

Make them jump a little at night, with a dance or two. They will then be "in point" to collapse quickly on their Spartan beds of high school Don Bosco!

Now let's be serious! Let's come to the field of reflection: between utopia and reality ...

IRIBA always thought about it and wrote: "The reconstruction of the country does not only concern the walls. The spirits too are to be rebuilt. "(Forum 2004 project text)

For this reason, in my view, the concept of the North-South Youth Forum is close to perfection. See for yourself ... First of all, it brings together young people from the "North" and the "South": it is its international dimension, essential.

Moreover, it includes a good deal of manual work ("the building site"), but as much if not more training (eg the 2009 seminars in Ngozi on the themes of development, human rights, transitional justice ...) and cultural activities (this summer, writing workshops, dance, Burundian drums ...)

Yes, dare the term: the Forum is a model utopia. A utopian dream come true.

The whole world would live in peace, on the same foundations. Despite some lively exchanges of words sometimes (!), Some friction or misunderstanding, the Forum is a place where sharing and cooperation between people seem possible. Our big final feast, our "Carnival" in Ngozi with dance groups and local musicians, was the crowning achievement. The trip around Burundi also, lakes north to Matondo, Ruyigi (Maggy Barankitse) to Nyanza Lac (night on the beach).

Of course, reality reminded us all the time, the terrible reality of pervasive poverty, that also of latent insecurity in the distant hills ...

Admittedly, our project will not be enough to ensure the development of Burundi: we are not dreaming!

But this Center, once completed in five years, will be an important place for young people in the hills around Ngozi. I'm happy to have brought my stone ... or rather a handful of earth!

In the register of sensations, finally ...

The red dirt track winding towards Mugomera, the immense ground of the construction site, the masons, the young people, the women carrying the water on their head, the "Burundian" hedge in braided eucalyptus branches made in a morning the basketworks the bright colors, the drums and their vital rhythm, the soft green hills of the tea or the more green of the banana trees, the weapons, unfortunately, still very present and visible, the myriad of children accompanying us on the paths and the lakes of the north, Lake Tanganika, which is taken for a sea or for an ocean, with its waves, the beer Primus and the perfumed juice of the maracujas, the immense confidence that we make, at the Forum, the young people of Burundi and the Congo, passionate debates on the responsibility of Europeans, on the future of Africa in the Great Lakes and on that of the whole world. This is the reality, intertwined of utopia, Forum 2009 ...


Germaine Blezio France, Bayonne