Burundi

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WOMEN’S MONTH IMAGE FOCUS: Striking and breathtaking images Burundi-born UK-based dancer and model Karen Bengo’s modelling portfolio.

Bengo has danced for the likes of MIA, Rita Ora, Pixie Lott and the late Whitney Houston, and has trained in a range of various styles - from hip-hop and modern, to jazz and house.

Find her on tumblr, twitter & youtube.

AUGUST: Celebrating African Women

Two African students of the Ouagadougou based International Institute for Water and Environment in Burkina Faso won the 1ST and People’s Choice prizes at the 2013 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) held at the Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, University of California, USA.

The two students are the first non-American born citizens to ever win the GSVC which was in recognition of their invention of a malaria repellent soap that topped 18 global finalists from across the world.

Moctar Dembele from Burkina Faso and Gérard Niyondiko from Burundi jointly made the innovative breakthrough using a combination of karate citronella and other local herbs.

The Faso Soap, as the invention is called, offers an innovative African solution to the most dangerous African killer problem, malaria.

It takes into particular account the financial constraints of ordinary people and the cultural habits of local families. In the words of Dembele, “everyone uses soaps, even in the very poor communities”.

BURUNDI, Gishora : Drummers from the Gishora drumming group perform in Gishora on March 14, 2015. The group’s leader, Anthime Baranshakaje used to perform for Burundi’s King Mwambutsa. The tradtion is being kept alive as the group now perform internationally and for dignitaries and Burundi’s President. Burundi’s royal drum was late last year given Intangible Cultural Heritage staus by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). AFP PHOTO/Carl de Souza                        

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Happy Independence Day Burundi!

The original inhabitants of Burundi were the Twa, a Pygmy people who now make up only 1% of the population. Today the population is divided between the Hutu, making up around 85% of Burundi’s population, and the Tutsi, approximately 14%. Both Hutu and Tutsi people speak the same language, Rwanda-Rundi, also spoken as a mother tongue by the Twa. The difference between tree two ethnic groups is primarily occupational - Hutu are considered to be agriculturally-based, whereas the Tutsi are known to be cattle herders, and Twa are traditionally hunter-gatherers. The main division between the Tutsi and the Hutu came with the classification system based on wealth status (cow ownership) and physical appearance that defined

Present-day Burundi first came under European colonial control when it was colonized by the Germans and became a part of German East Africa in 1885. After Germany’s defeat in World War I, Germany was forced to ‘hand over’ the territory to Belgium. From 1916-1924 the territory was under Belgian military occupation, conquered by Belgian Congo forces in 1916. Under the Treaty of Versailles, German East Africa was divided between Belgium and Great Britain with the area know known as Burundi becoming under full control of Belgium in 1924. The area officially became Ruanda-Urundi. The Belgians had promised the League of Nations that they would promote 'education’ in the region but, as with all colonist countries, they exploited the people and their land to benefit Belgium interests.

Read more about how Burundi gained their independence.