Burundi’s Rebranding Campaign Misses the Nation Building Mark

President Pierre Nkurunziza has controversially renamed the country’s national landmarks to reflect the historical contribution of the majority Hutu ethnic group. Renaming the national stadium, the presidential palace and main airport was meant to “remind Burundians of their history,” he said in his independence-day speech on 1 July. The main stadium in the former capital city of Bujumbura, which hosts football matches and national day celebrations, is now officially called Heroes Stadium. It used to be named after Louis Rwagasore, one of the most revered and prominent figures in Burundi’s history. His portrait is also used in the country’s currency. The main airport in Bujumbura will now be called Merchior Ndadaye after the country’s first democratically elected president. The ethnic Hutu only ruled for three months in 1993 before he was assassinated after his reforms antagonised the Tutsi-dominated army. The new presidential palace was renamed after King Ntare Rushatsi. It cost $22m to build and was reportedly a gift from China. The legendary King Rushatsi is seen as having been the founder of the Burundi kingdom in the 1500s. Critics, however, say the move was meant to erase the contribution of members of the minority Tustsi community. Since independence from Belgium in 1962, the landlocked central African country has been plagued by tension between the Hutu majority and Tutsi minority.SOURCE: BBC

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