Rwagasore, prince of consensus | African history | -

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"A peaceful, happy and prosperous Burundi " it was the dream of Prince Louis Rwagasore, passionate about economics and above all convinced that independence could be conquered in peace. Portrait of the one who made consensus in a country in tension.

Is it his princely blood that made his popularity?

Burundi Straßenszene in Bujumbura (- / A Niragira)

Bujumbura today.

It is certain that Louis Rwagasore grew up with the privileges of a prince: he was the eldest son of Mwami Mwambutsa Bangicirenge, King of Barundi, and received a solid education in one of the most prestigious high schools of Rwanda – under guardianship Belgium, Ruanda-Urundi was one country. After studying administration and agronomy in Brussels, where he mingled with independentist circles and meeting African students from all over the continent, Rwagasore returned to the country in 1956 and turned into a political animal – this is his charisma and his strategist qualities that will make his popularity.

How did he manage to federate the Burundians?
Louis Rwagasore was a skilled diplomat and great convener. He impressed Burundians with his initiative, first of all, with the creation of agricultural cooperatives that would give Burundians and Burundians control of their means of production, and put an end to the monoculture of coffee. By his relations, then, with the great figures of African independence – Prince Louis Rwagasore met the Congolese Patrice Lumumba several times, he met a correspondence with the Egyptian Gamal Abdel Nasser and nourished his political project thanks to his friend Julius Nyerere. The project of cooperatives turned short, but he made his celebrity, and he created his party, the party of the Union and National Progress (UPRONA), from 1958, with a very diverse militant base.

What is its place in the pantheon of heroes of African independence?

Burundi Präsident Nkurunziza arrives for the celebrations to mark Burundi's 55th anniversary of the independence at the Prince Louis Rwagasore stadium in Bujumbura (Reuters / E. Ngendakumana)

Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza at the 55th anniversary of independence in Bujumbura.

In Burundi, he is a hero celebrated every Independence Day, a symbol of a transition to peaceful independence and a united Burundi. Stadiums, schools, libraries, avenues – tributes to the national hero are everywhere. At the end of the Burundian civil war, the signatories of the Arusha agreement of 2000 do not fail to invoke his "charismatic leadership", which "avoided Burundi to plunge into political confrontations based on ethnic considerations "- at least until independence is proclaimed. His early death prevented him from "to look into the real problems of the nation: especially economic problems, the problems of the land and the social emancipation of the common people, the problems of education and many others, to which we seek and find solutions which are ours own "as he had promised in his speech of accession to the Primature.

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This story is part of the series "Roots of Africa". A series launched in early 2018 by Deutsche Welle, in cooperation with the Gerda Henkel Foundation.

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