War games: Rebels in 2002

FNL (Force for National liberation) - containing letter to us.

I recently came across the following letter, which I had filed away when it was sent me, in 2002.  It was a time of rebel attacks and threats.  The following letter I received from the FNL, which was one of the main rebel groups at that time.

Letter to me from a group claiming to be the FNL

This is a paraphrase of the Kirundi:

We, the FNL, demand that you make a contribution of Fbu 200.000 (about 200 dollars) to the FNL as soon as possible.

If we do not receive it by Wednesday, we will come right away and you will have to pay more [i.e., probably breaking into the compound and taking stuff].

I called the military commandant for our district, whom I knew and exchanged information with regarding security, to come so that we could discuss the letter.

After examining it, he said that we’d do nothing because – since it was not signed with a proper stamp of the FNL – it was not authentic, and was probably sent by a group of robbers.  And, nothing did happen.

Many people did pay contributions to the ‘authentic’ FNL so as not to be robbed.  We did, for a time, paying a ‘poll tax’ on our goats.  This kind of ‘citizen taxation’ is common where a rebel group controls a certain area, and is a kind of security against incursions.  Though, about a year later,  the compound was broken into a couple of times (probably robbers) – something for another blog.

About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in Africa-Central, Burundi, Living here, War Games and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to War games: Rebels in 2002

  1. yolanda says:

    i find the stamp culture here both funny and frustrating. nothing is official without a stamp. this story is a great illustration of the place of the stamp in burundi!


    • dianabuja says:

      Ah – ’tis the ‘story’ of many countries who seem stuck to stamps. Nothing really legal unless ‘stamped’


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