Commentary by Harold Acemah.
A Political Scientist and Retired Career Diplomat.
Born of a Hutu father and a Tutsi mother. Orphaned aged 7. Having wangled his political and strategic acumen in a bush war, President Pierre Nkurunziza fought off a putsch, opposition boycotts and diplomatic pressure to cling to power to the very end. And even after stepping down, his shadow was written all over his acolyte, the new President.
His philosophy was simple: Anyone who sees things differently from him becomes- ipso facto- an enemy
A soccer-loving pastor married to an evangelical preacher Denise, who is currently being treated for covid-19 here in Nairobi.
The self anointed Ayatollah of Burundi spent much of his time traversing the country with his own team, Haleluya FC. He also traveled with his own choir, “Komeza gusenga”, which means “pray non-stop” in the local Kirundi language.
A tale is told of when his team faced a side from the northern town of Kiremba.
Normally, the opposition would avoid tackling him and would even allow him score bogus goals. On this day, the opposing team had a few Congolese players who didn’t know they were playing against Nkurunziza; they attacked each time he had the ball and made him fall several times. That team’s coach and his assistant were bundled to jail on charges of “conspiracy against the president”.
When kids as young as 7 years doodled on his portrait, they were arrested. In Burundi, insulting the president carries a potential jail term of five to 10 years.
Oh, during last year’s Labour day celebrations in that country, Pierre publicly lauded his 12-year-old daughter and gave her an undisclosed amount of money for being a good girl.
Today, the supreme/spiritual leader is felled by an enemy that didn’t require his guerrilla war tactics nor the muscle of the military.
It only needed washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing. The heart attack narrative is a flimsy attempt at covering their shame- Having unceremoniously bundled WHO officials from their plantation.
What do you say of a man who plunged 75% of his subjects to poverty and had atrocities for accolades?
“Some die of natural causes some in a tragic way
But for every single one of us a final night and day
Without respect for the power of wealth and without respect for fame
Death the great equalizer treats everyone as the same” – Francis Duggan