Wargames – South Africans and Others

English: Map of Burundi Español: Mapa de Burundi

English: Map of Burundi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are we on our way to a similar activity ?
Post updated in Feb 2016.  
In 1998 and for several years thereafter, during the fighting here, the South African military came in as the first wave of African Union (AU) troops whose mission was to work with the Burundi military in peace-keeping activities.  The AU was then followed by UN troops, some of which still remain.

This was a difficult time for everyone.  For many, it resulted in quickly leaving the country for refugee camps either in to the west, to the Congo or to the east, into Tanzania.  For others, simply ‘ducking’ and hoping for a quick end to the fighting and related problems.

Cadavers floated up on the beach from time to time and sometimes a member of our staff would receive word that a relative had been killed – or worse yet, a group of relatives and friends had been massacred.

… I kept a diary and also tried to take pictures during important events – not always easy.  I share some of them below.

In the following picture, Burundians fleeing the country for camps in the Congo.  This was the 3rd time since 1972 that the country has been bound up in ongoing massacres and refugee flights.

Refugees fleeing the country for the Congo

Above, rural folk gathering for a meeting on the security situation. (Picture taken from my car)

South Africans organized a training exercise once or twice a week,  that took place right next to us, on the grounds of the Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika, which had been ruined and had not yet been reconstructed.  Here is how the South African training went:

South African troops arrive next to us, flying over the bombed-out Hotel Club du Lac

Troops preparing to descend

Descending from helicopter (then, ascending – next picture)

Three soldiers at a time are lifted off of the beach

The three soldiers are taken quite high, and flown over the lake for a while

Soldiers are then dunked into the lake, after which they are lifted and flown back to the airport, at speed

Most tragically, on one exercise a soldier slipped and fell into the lake.  The helicopter pilot was new and did not realize that if he flew close to the lake over the person, the strength of the wind from the helicopter blades would force the person under the water.  He was not found until a few days later, having drowned, and no more of these exercises were conducted

FDD rebels – roadblock

I think I’ve put the above picture up before.  It is a rebel road block, of which there were many.  I never had any problems at them. You gave some money and went on your way.

(Below) Very often I organized BBQs or other fetes for the South African and Burundian military, such as this one.  They were fun for everyone and sometimes – even now – Burundian officers (who had come to these events) will recognize me, and we chit-chat.  In fact that just happened again, last weekend, in the village cabaret

South African and Burundian military come for a BBQ

An evening with South African military. The women (sitting to the right) worked with Burundian war trauma victims – a very stressful activity.

Armored troop transports (above) were a common sight in the city for a few years.  In going up to the camps in which rebels who had left ‘rebel-hood’ and wanted to repatriate were located.   I would join a convoy of these vehicles – effective against mines and shooting, but very uncomfortable.

A South African ‘Fun Day’ on our beach, Congo hills in the background.

South African troops would also have  ‘fun days’ on our beach from time to time (above).

Always in the evenings, the military guards began their watches.

Security now is quite ok, so that both Burundians and visitors can enjoy this lovely country.

Now, the same beach area at the Club de Vacance as seen in the military exercises of the South Africans.

Now, the same beach area at the Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika – as seen above, in the military exercises of the South Africans.

Please see the following blog, for more on the lake and the Hotel Club du Lac, today:

Sundays by Lake Tanganyika

Post originally sent in Feb 2013

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, Goats, Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika2, Living here, Social Life, War Games and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Wargames – South Africans and Others

  1. lissnup says:

    Thankful for safety returning to your corner of paradise


    • dianabuja says:

      Thank you, Liss – peace has brought such a change to the country!


    • dianabuja says:

      Very glad! I’ just getting back to activities following 3 mos in hosp. and another mo. in bedrest. So much to do!!


      • lissnup says:

        wow, that’s a lot of “downtime” – take it slow and steady, we need you in peak condition 😉


        • dianabuja says:

          I replied, but the text apparently went to E-mail Heaven. Trying again.

          Thanks so much for the wise words! Another few weeks as muscles build back up. Curiously, inspite of having been in quite dangerous situations in SE Egypt, in Sudan, in Kenya, and in Burundi – it is only during ‘safer’ times that I come down with dangerous maladies. 😐


  2. Pingback: Post-War Peace Keeping « Dianabuja's Blog

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