It may be hard to see but this is a picture taken from our balcony; a wedding party taking photos while off to the right side a man is doing his daily task of getting water by filling jugs from some source near the palm tree. Life is a patchwork of the exceptional and the mundane, no matter what culture you live in. But this picture captures well what many of us living in Bujumbura are experiencing; some hopefulness that enables us to return to the stuff of life.
Over the past three weeks since our return to Bujumbura we’ve seen many such signs of life returning to the pre-April political tensions. Normally many people leave during the “summer months” when schools are out, taking their family vacations into the interior to be with extended family or off to other places to visit relatives. So even last year when we returned from our summer break in July we noticed less people in the city and a swelling as September approached and schools resumed. But this year it was different, the city was eerily empty when Randy left in late June. Now, I’m happy to see, Burundian traffic jams have returned, along with masses of bike taxis, moto-taxis and cars.
Each day more and more students have been returning to the university seeking to take up their studies again. I’ve been able to consolidate the classes we missed by making-up two to three sessions per class and giving a final exam to those who were present (about half the original number). A new semester is scheduled to begin in two weeks. Students and professors are both excited to be returning. Unfortunately, there are many sad stories of students in very precarious positions due to increased economic hardships in connection with the political turmoil of the past three months. But the fact that they are returning speaks to the hope we all have to continue with the stuff of life.
And here’s another sign of hope—a new business opening! Amahoro Café, a joint venture of some Burundians and Americans, opened its doors today, after a three-month postponement, serving burritos, chips and salsa to those of us fortunate enough to be living here. Yum! Our first mexican food in Bujumbura! And how fitting is their name–“Amahoro” which means “peace” in Kirundi, the greeting people give each other here! Today we are rejoicing in the stuff of life, both the exceptional and the mundane!!!