Updated blog first posted in 2010.
Here is what happened in 2003, by way of wargames, Christmas celebrations, and related events. Most of the pictures were taken 2003.
22nd December - Putting up the christmas tree. Every year, I have all of the staff in to help, followed by popcorn and drinks. A few years ago the government decreed no more live Christmas trees (to help combat deforestation), and so we now use banana ‘trees’!
Our staff who looked after the goat herds and the compound consisted of nearly 20 strong young men. During the war-years this was a great deterrent to rebels thinking of breaking into the compound. (Except 2 times, when we were invaded, and I’ll write about that in a separate blog).
23rd December – Below, enjoying the Christmas tree – Staff come in to enjoy the tree and listen to the Christmas carols on the cassette every night as long as the tree is up.
I invented a tree-dismantling fete, enjoy by all the staff: After being dismantled, the tree is cut up and made into a little bonfire. Meantime, I have purchased hotdogs, chips, and drinks. The hotdogs are roasted over the Christmas tree fire and thus the final Christmas celebration is enjoyed. (I do have a picture of this, but cannot find it right now.)
24th. December - Army exercises and target practice with AK-47s and bazookas are enacted next door to the compound, beginning at 6am. Christmas and New Years were the favored times of attacking (by the rebel groups) during the war years, and this exercise was a military show of force.
24th December - evening – Christmas celebration for the staff; gifts and a large meal.
The list that I have gives the following items purchased for all of the staff – near 20 – who work with our goat herds and chores in the compound – at that time, crossbred goats numbering about 130 improved (crossbred) goats.
Presents for the staff:
Transistor radios Large umbrellas Large handkerchiefs
Food for the staff meal:
Rice – 10kg Beans – 10kg Cabbage – 4 lg. Green beans – 2kg Tomatoes – 4 kg Tomato paste – 2 tins Eggplants – 3 lg. Meat – 6.5 kg. Palm oil – 1 l. Pineapple – 2 lg. Makakuja – 2 kg. Bananas – 4 bun. Onions – 3 kg.
24th December - A village child is killed by a land mine near the compound. Land mines have been a terrible danger here; not only people from the village, but also animals have been severely wounded or killed. Every time one hears a mine, there is a hope that perhaps it was a hippo – not a person or a dog.
I’ve had 3 lovely dogs killed by mines, and one badly injured. Don’t know of any rebels or robbers who have been killed by them, but perhaps the mines have acted as a deterrent
25th December - The Agroforestry technician of the project is killed while going home on his motorcycle – wore no helmet.
Tahina sauce & veggies Pita bread Omer’s Burundi beef Herbed rice Spicy beans and eggplant Denise’s Ratatoui Linga-linga (amaranths) Nikki’s Yum-yum Cornbread Carrot-cabbage salad Fresh fruit
Several trucks filled both with Burundi military and UN troops guard the compound, to whom we give a case of drinks and all they could eat.
25 December - the Papal Nuncio (Papal ambassador to Burundi) is assassinated by unknown rebels or others, while driving back to Bujumbura on RN 3 (see U.S. Embassy warning about this route, here.). Catholic Relief services had offered him their armored vehicle for this trip, but he had refused it, stating that he did not want to show fear. The rebel groups denied the killing, and it remains a mystery. It is the only assassination of a Papal Nuncio in over 500 years.
27th December - The Abbe N. visits, to discuss the assassination, security issues and related events.
28th December - Dr. Banuma comes out to help with a serious parasite outbreak in the goat herds.
29th December - Emm nearly dies of cerebral malaria – unable to get to the hospital for reasons of security on the roads.
30th December – Purchases for the New Year:
Mung beans Bulghur Brown flour Chick peas Tooth brush (probably for me!) Large rooster (live – our old rooster had contributed to the staffs’ Christmas meal :-)) Large basket (have no idea what that was for) Sorghum beer Avacados Mangos Guavas Plantains Mukeke fish Raisins Tea
31st December – Pakistani UN troops come out ‘en masse’ to have a picnic next door to us. Better than the shooting of the 24th by the Burundi military, which took place in the same area!
We also have had a blundee similar to this one stationed by the military near the compound during the weeks of Christmas and New Years:
- An African Christmas, Burundi-Style (dianabuja.wordpress.com)