Around the World Cooking Challenge – Burundi

Hey everyone! I’m back and presenting you the recipes from our second stop – Burundi.

When doing the research, I could see right away that this is a very different country compared to Qatar. Burundi, in comparison, is a very poor country where political and human rights issues are part of everyday life. It made me quite sad to read about it all. At the same time, I now feel a lot more thankful for what my life is like.

  • Location: East Africa
  • Population: about 11.2 million
  • Capital City: Gitega
  • Languages: Kirundi, French

What you should know about Burundi…

Burundi is a “landlocked” country, which means that it does not have any territory connected to an ocean. The country is bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. Burundi is hilly and mountainous, dropping to a plateau in the east. The average annual temperature varies with altitude from 23°C to 17°C.

The capital of Burundi is Gitega. By the way, this is quite a recent change. On the 16th of January 2019, the capital was changed from Bujumbura, the nation’s largest city, to Gitega, a smaller and more centrally located city. It’s not a rare thing to happen, though. By moving its capital, the country follows in the footsteps of some other African states. For example, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, and Nigeria have all moved their political capitals after developing new ones beginning in the 1980s.

Burundi In Crisis

Sadly, Burundi is in the middle of the political and human rights crisis. The primary ethnic groups in Burundi are the Tutsi, who are the overwhelming majority, and the Hutu, a significant minority. After decades of military dictatorships, Burundi finally democratically elected president, a Hutu, in 1993. However, he was assassinated in October 1993 after only 100 days in office. This started a civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi factions, lasting from 1993 to 2005. Children were widely used by both sides in the war.

Burundi’s human rights violations include summary execution, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest, sexual violence, and torture among others. These issues are not being actively tackled, though. Instead, in 2017, Burundi became the first nation ever to leave the International Criminal Court. Press freedom is highly restricted – Burundi’s media is censored and run by the government. When looking at gender equality, women are vastly underrepresented at all levels of decision-making in government. Furthermore, same-sex sexual activity by both men and women is punished with a penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine.

Despite the civil war being formally over, Burundi is still having trouble recovering from it. It is one of the poorest nations in the world and is heavily dependent on foreign aid. To put it into a perspective, around 90% of the Burundi population lives on less than $2 per day. Not to mention that over 50% of children are chronically malnourished. The main source of employment is agriculture and nearly 80% of people depend on it. Due to this heavy dependence, however, soil degradation and deforestation are becoming more and more troubling issues.

The Cuisine of Burundi

Burundi cuisine is very representative of the African culinary culture in general. It includes beans, exotic fruits (mainly bananas), sweet potatoes, cabbage, corn, and cassava. Most of the food is boiled, stewed, or roasted over a wood fire. Meat (mainly chicken and goat) is rarely consumed in Burundi. Also, cows are viewed as sacred, and boiling or heating cow milk is taboo. When moving closer to the shores of Lake Tanganyika, fish is more popular (among those who can afford it) and is prepared in similar ways to meat.

Not surprisingly, there’s not too much of a variety in available recipes of traditional Burundi food. However, I chose a few that seemed to represent their culture (and allow me to bake something interesting). Check out the recipes and read more!

  1. Date and Banana Mix
  2. Burundian Chapati
  3. Burundian Lentil and Bean Soup

Next Stop

Are you ready for the next stop? Randomizer button clicked… Here we go…

… and it’s North Macedonia!

I’ve never been there but since it’s in Europe, it feels a lot closer to home. I’m sure the food is full of surprises, though!

♡ & until next time,

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