The first time we heard of Burundi, we were all like – what? Where is this place? 3 years down the line, things are no different. Even now when we stand at the immigration counter, the officials go – “Burundi? What?….” Or worse still, people say, ” Ah, Brunei. Yes, I know that place. The Sultan of Brunei. Once, the richest man in the world!” Sometimes, I correct, sometimes…. I just let it go and smile, “Yes. Yes.”
Burundi is a tiny country, in central-east Africa. The country is land bound on all sides except the West. On the west is Lake Tanganyika. How do I explain this lake? A simplistic way of saying is, it is HUGE. I am not going to give the dimensions here, anyone interested can always Google it up. Let me put it this way, when i was talking about the lake to one of my friends back in India, she said, “oh yes, like our Mettur dam Lake!” How do I tell her that the Mettur dam Lake is akin to a tiny fishing pond when you compare Lake Tanganyika. I mean, you have beaches in the middle of the African continent because of this Lake. Beaches with non-salty, freshest, bluest water. If this was a more developed country, movie-makers would be clamouring here for their shooting schedule.
Which brings us to another statistic: This is one of the least developed and one of the poorest country in the world. (Hey, World Bank says that, not me). The irony is, the land is so fertile and there is no scarcity for water. Even the poor do not go hungry because they can grow anything on this land. (Of course, I am not talking about the urban poor or the nutritional value of their food – I am just talking about hunger). But there is no gold, diamond or oil deposits here; maybe that’s why no one is much bothered about this country.
Every time, we travel, we just can’t help admiring the beauty of this country. It reminds me so much of Kerala, by the way – lush green vistas, misty hills, red sand… And every time, we (my husband and I) say to each other, “When development happens (which I am sure, it will, some day), I hope they respect this beauty and work around it and not against it”.