SQUIZ THE WORLD (1400 × 700px)

Squiz the World goes to… Burundi


Akazehe greeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uA9fdguJ80
Maharagwe recipe: http://www.ediblepioneervalley.com/recipes/recipes/recipe-maharagwe-vegetables-and-beans
Elephant soup: https://www.food.com/recipe/elephant-soup-534630



Each week, we give the world globe a spin, and see where we land. Then we take the kids of Australia on an audio excursion to visit that country and its people.

I’m Amanda Bower, and today on Squiz the World we’re visiting Burundi, a landlocked country in the “Great Lakes” region of East Africa. Burundi is also one of the most densely populated—meaning a lot of people per square kilometre—countries in Africa, and the poorest country in the world. Remember how last week, when we visited Finland, we learned that it was the world’s happiest country, according to a United Nations report? Well, that same report lists Burundi as the world’s least happy country.

This might be one of those times where it’s better to visit a country virtually than in person… although don’t worry, there are plenty of interesting and beautiful things to learn about in Burundi. Strap yourselves into the Squiz Kids Super Fast Supersonic Jetliner as we take off and take a squiz at Burundi …

Just the Facts
In 1891, the area that today consists of Burundi, Rwanda, and parts of Tanzania became a German colony called German East Africa. After World War One, Belgium took over until 1962, when Burundi became its own country.
It has two capital cities—the economic capital and biggest city is Bujumbura, and the political capital is called Gitega.

Although Burundi is a democracy with a President, it has had big problems with corruption, a 12-year-long civil war between its two major ethnic groups, and problems with human rights. In 2017, Burundi became the first country in the world to officially leave the International Criminal Court, after its government was accused of crimes.

About 90% of people in Burundi work on farms, and most of them are doing what’s called subsistence farming, meaning that they’re growing food just for their family to eat… not working on a big farm that feeds many people. Sadly, this emphasis on farming has caused most of the trees in Burundi to be cut down, to make way for small farms. Only 6% of Burundi has trees left on it.

One of the things there are a lot of in Burundi are cows. ‘Amashyo’ is a traditional greeting that can be translated to ‘May you have a herd of cattle.’ And if someone tells you that you have the eyes of a cow, it’s a compliment! Quite different from how you’d feel in Australia if someone said you were a cow… When a cow dies in Burundi, people plant the horns near the house under the soil, which is believed to bring good luck.

Whenever you travel, it’s important to learn a few words in that country’s language. It’s a great way to show respect. So, let’s….

Learn the Lingo
Burundi has three official languages: Kirundi, which is the local language, as well as French – from being a Belgian colony – and English.
Squiz Kid Lahairoi came to Australia from Burundi when she was six. Now she’s 13, and lives in Sydney. Lahairoi, how do you greet someone in Kirundi?

Yamu amahoro Urakomeye. 

This means hi, how are you, but the word “amahoro” literally means peace… and if you just want to say a quick hello, that’s all you need to say… amahoro. Isn’t that lovely, wishing someone peace?

Speaking of lovely, there is a beautiful traditional musical greeting between women in Burundi called akazehe. I’ve put a link to it in your episode notes, where you see two women hugging and singing each other hello. It’s gorgeous.

People are always really grateful when you just try to speak their language. They may even thank you for it. Hey, Lahiroi, how do we say thank you?
Urakoze cane.

And Urakoze cane to you, too!

Now that we can communicate a little bit, it’s….

Time for School
Twenty years ago, Burundi had one of the world’s lowest literacy rates. Literacy means the ability to read and write. Although the government helped to pay for education, and it was compulsory for kids aged 7 to 12, only about half of them went.

The low school attendance and the low literacy rate in Burundi were due, in part, to the instability caused by the civil war. A civil war is a war that takes place inside a country – between opposing sides within that country – as opposed to a war between different countries. The civil war in Burundi resulted in a shortage of schools, teachers, and supplies. That’s improved a lot today, but still only about 10% of kids make it to high school, and most of them are boys.

Like most African countries, Burundi has a compulsory school uniform policy. Back when Burundi was a Belgian colony, chiefs’ sons got to wear a white uniform, and all the other children wore khaki. Nowadays, everyone wears the same thing… but because parents have to pay for uniforms themselves, and about 80% of people are extremely poor, some people think that if the uniform policy was dropped, more kids would go to school.

Now, we’ve learned some fairly sad things about Burundi… but there are some tall tales about wildlife that we think you’re going to love.

Believe it or Not
We’ve already learned that Burundi is landlocked, meaning its surrounded on all sides by other countries, not ocean. But… it does have Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest freshwater lake with some of Africa’s most beautiful inland beaches. Apparently, you can also see hippopotamuses come out of the water and rest on the beaches near people… even though technically, angry hippos have been known to kill humans. I’ve even heard that sometimes, the hippos in Burundi come onto the streets, particularly when local bars are hosting karaoke nights! I’d LOVE to see that. Who knew hippopotami loved music?

Now, I will say that Squiz-E the Newshounds nose is twitching a bit about that… he’s found plenty of photos and videos of hippopotami in the lake, and next to the lake, but nothing near a karaoke microphone. So we’ll have to leave that in the “maybe” pile.

Then there’s Gustave, a gigantic crocodile who lives in the lake and has his own documentary and Wikipedia page. Gustave has never been captured, but he’s definitely real, and estimated to be over 5 metres long… measure that out, it’s HUGE… and believed to weigh more than 900kg. People who live on the northern shores of Lake Tanganyika are terrified of him, because he’s believed to have snacked on more than 300 people since the 1980s!

In 2004, an American documentary came out called Capturing the Killer Croc… which wasn’t an entirely accurate title. A herpetologist – which is the fancy word for someone who studies reptiles – spent two years studying and planning to capture Gustave. But despite delicious bait that attracted other crocodiles into the trap, Gustave couldn’t be tempted. Some people think he’s now died… others aren’t so sure.

Well, that’s put me off swimming in the lake! I think it might be…

Dinner Time
If you were to go to a restaurant in Burundi, chances are you’d see people sitting in a circle around a pot, all drinking out of the pot with straws.

Now, that doesn’t sound very covid safe, and anyway, kids can’t drink beer, even if it is made from bananas—true story, Burundi is famous for its fermented banana beverage!

Instead, let’s cook up a pot of maharagwe, a traditional, soupy stew of veggies and beans. I mean, you could make elephant soup, which is eaten all over Africa … okay, nowadays its made with beef, not elephant… I’ll stick that recipe in for you, too.

The S’Quiz
This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening.

Question 1. How many capitals does Burundi have?
Question 2. What are the two deadly animals in Lake Tanganyika?
Question 3. Here’s a hard one: how do you greet someone in Kirundi by saying “peace”?