Were Like Roaring Lions
Alfred Ndoricimpa, a Hutu living in Rutana Province of Burundi near
Interviewed by Florence Ntakarutimana, HROC program manager, Burundi.
families who had fled to Tanzania in 1972 came back to Burundi in May
2012. When they arrived back at their ancestral lands in Rutana, they
found that their land had been occupied by other families who refused
to give it back. The conflict escalated into violence. The returning
family went to fight for their property twice and burned down one of
the houses. As people who had participated in HROC, we saw that it was
becoming dangerous. There are many land conflicts in Burundi now. We
knew that many people had been killed by grenades in such circumstances.
to intervene, so that same things would not happen to these families.
We focused on the returning family who was in a weak position and was
in great need of a solution. We visited them many times. We shared soda
with them and pursued all other strategies to create a friendship with
them. We then introduced the issue, and gave them a possible solution.
The first consultation we did was discouraging, they said: “How
can we accept that their children eat what should be eaten by ours?
The only thing we can do is to throw grenades at them. They would die
as others die. We know we would only spend three days in prison and
then give beer to the authorities to free us.”
so angry. They were like roaring lions.
again and the third time both parties accepted to come together and
discuss the issue. We presented the consequences of the violence for
themselves and their families if they did not find an alternative and
we facilitated their discussion. They agreed that the returning family
would receive a third of their land back. This was a wonderful compromise
because according to Burundian law, they had no legal claim to the land
after a 30-year absence.
Now they live in peace and are good friends of ours. We continue to
follow-up with them to make sure they keep their promises. When I remember
many people who died because of land issues, I praise God that we saved