Burundi Culture

Published: 2021-08-10 19:50:07
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This is the objectives of this assessment to know a deeper and detailed culture of Burundi. INTRODUCTION Background Burundi is located in the Central African Region that borders with Rwanda, Tanzania and Congo. Burundi is a little nation surrounded by mountains and lakeside with the capital city called Bujumbura (Embassy of the Republic of Burundi, 2010). With the population of 6,370,609 people, Burundi is considered one of the poorest nations in the world. But on the other hand, Burundi has many natural resources such as alluvial gold, nickel, phosphates, rare earth, vanadium, and peat.
Burundi also has two major agricultural resources and they are coffee and tea. Burundi had been independent since 1962. The original inhabitants of Burundi are thought to the Twa people but now there is only 1% of the population left and they are remain isolated. Now Burundi was populated with Hutus and Tutsis as the two main ethnic groups. The Hutu group is their majority with 85% of the population and is usually short and square, whereas the Tutsi group is the minority and usually tall and thin with 14% of the population (Embassy of the Republic of Burundi, 2010).
But despite that percentage, the Tutsi group has always been the dominant compared to the Hutu. Standford (2007) stated that up until now Burundi already has 3 democratically elected presidents but two of them have already passed away. The first president is Melchior Ndadaye, but in within few months he had been assassinated in a failed coup attempt along with estimated 300,000 civilians. The second president is Cyprien Ntaryamira and after a few months of becoming president he died in a plane crash but the civilians believed he was killed alongside the president of neighbouring Rwanda.
The last president is Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, he only served in the presidency for two years and after that he withdrew himself from the government and parliament. The new president led by Pierre Nkurunziza, he had to faced many challenges because there are rebels group that refuse to cooperate with the peace process. Therefore, there’s no clear end to the clash between Hutu and Tutsi. Access for culture from business point of view. Burundi is a developing country and the national economy is considered unstable. For that reason, doing business in Burundi may be risky and difficult in some circumstances.
But if we do business domestically, the location in Burundi may bring a benefit because it is surrounded by countries that make it easy to access to the region around them, and because as a developing country Burundi’s natural resources would be a great sources to do agriculture business. However the geographic location and country recognition of Burundi make it difficult to do international business with another countries outside of its continent. DETERMINANTS OF BURUNDI CULTURE History The history of Burundi was begun in 1860 when the reigns of Rwabugiri came to the thrones and control the region of Burundi and Rwanda (Gascoigne, 2001).
Before that time, two different ethnic dominated the local tradition; Tutsi, people that take over the area and win dominance over Hutu, that living by agriculture. Under his control, the reign was organized on a feudal basis, where the Tutsi are the aristocracy and Hutu as their slaves (Gascoigne, 2001). And when first described by a European, Scepe assumed that the distinction between Tutsi and Hutu is racial. But it was questioned, as both ethnic admitted an intermarriage and custom that allowing people to become an honourable member of other group.
And a more valid distinction between Tutsi and Hutu is based on occupation and class where the Tutsi is the upper class, and the Hutu as the lower class. The first European that claimed Burundi and Rwanda was the Germany in 1894 and the region was known as Rwanda-Urundi. But the culture of Germany was not that extensive, when the region was taken from their hand during the World War 1 in 1914. Gascoigne (2001) explained that during the war, Belgian moved from the Belgian Congo to occupy Rwanda-Urundi in 1916. In 1925, Rwanda-Urundi was linked with Belgian Congo, but the colonial took a different form of rules in the two territories.
Belgian Congo was centred in Brussels, and Rwanda-Urundi was left in the hand of Tutsi aristocracy. From 1933, People in Rwanda-Urundi were issued with a racial identity card, recognizing them as Tutsi (14%) or Hutu (85%). The remaining was known as Twa(1%) the original indigenous in this area (Gascoigne, 2001). Based on Global Edge(2012) in 1957, the Hutu leaders published a Hutu Manifesto, resulting in nationwide campaign of Hutu violence against Tutsi and many Tutsi has fled from Rwanda. One of the authors of Hutu Manifesto, Gregoire Kayibanda scored an overwhelming victory in 1960 election.
When an election was held in 1961, the eldest son of Tutsi leader, Prince Rwagasore implemented a solution to recover the conflict between Tutsi and Hutu (Gascoigne, 2001). But a few months later before the independence was formally achieved, he was assassinated. Rwanda-Urundi became independent in July 1962, but the pressure from UN to federate as a single nation, had finally broken down this nation to two different nations (Global Edge, 2012). Urundi became an independent as a constitutional monarchy with a change of name to Burundi. A republic is proclaimed together, but again Tutsi showed their misused power.
Ndayizigiye (2005) described the worst ethnic slaughter unleashed upon Hutu after Burundi became independent was in 1972, where about 100,000 people are killed, and among them were nearly all Hutu professional and educated class. The extreme ethnic violence in the following year had brought thousands of deaths on both sides result in between 25,000 and 50,000 in all (Ndayizigiye, 2005). Fourth president of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira was trying to heal the ethnic wounds in 1994, but again he was killed together with the president of Rwanda, Habyarimana in an airplane hen a rocket brought it down. And during the subsequent year, the war continued relentlessly until 1998 when Organization of African Unity (OAU) brought the peace. Geography and Location Burundi’s geographic land is situated on high plateau and it often occurs tremors and earthquakes. Burundi is a tropical country and this causes a variety of tropical diseases such as malaria, dengue and others. The insects carry most of the causes of these diseases. One third of Burundi’s land is used as pastureland while the most fertile lands are on the highlands.
The highland in Burundi is the last area in Africa to be reached by the Europeans colonial expansion in 19th century. Most mountain areas are dense with and trees. Most of the wildlife in Burundi consist of warthogs, antelopes, crocodiles, hippopotamus, buffaloes, elephants and baboons which are threatened and endangered because the government of Burundi has not set up any animal reservation and sanctuaries where species can be protected from the danger of extinction. The cause of threatening of these animals are because of the development of the country intrudes the habitat life such as the spread of farming and overgrazing.
The development is causing deforestation and erosion on the land of the habitats. Furthermore, the laws of illegal in poaching are not strictly implied within the country causing more and more of illegal poaching to be done which endangers the habitats life. (everyculture, 2012) Economy With 6 million people who are among the poorest in the world, Burundi is one of the smallest economies in Africa. In this light, it is difficult to imagine a development strategy based on the domestic markets. With respect to Burundi’s external markets, they were largely Rwanda and the Eastern provinces of Congo under colonial rule.
Burundi is landlocked and dependent on its neighbours’ wrecked road and rail infrastructure in the conduct of its international trade. The country’s isolation within a geographically isolated continent (Fafchamps, 2003). Burundi is a tropical climate where many of the disease like malaria and others tropical disease that restraints the potential of development in Burundi. (Nkurunziza, 2005) Stated for most of the post-independence period, the financial sector was dominated by two commercial banks owned partly by the state and partly by Belgian banks.
There was also a government savings bank, a government development bank, and a few non-banking financial institutions. With financial liberalisation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Burundi’s financial sector has become more diversified. However, the country has no stock market and no dynamic informal financial markets, implying that most financial transactions are carried out through banks. Financial institutions are concentrated in Bujumbura, the capital city, but the main banks have branches in a number of provinces. Education Burundi is still developing on its education system in order to improve the people abilities and potencies.
The total rate of adult literacy rate in Burundi is about 67% in 2010 (Unicef, 2012). The education systems of Burundi include preparatory, elementary, high school, college and vocational schooling. Most of the primary and secondary education levels are owned by private entities while tertiary education level is owned by the State. There are formal type and non-formal type of education system. The formal type of education includes six years of primary education, four years of lower secondary education, three years of upper secondary education and four years of higher education.
The total of formal education that Burundian normally has is about 17 years. The non-formal type of education includes a vocational school and preparatory school. Vocational school is basically consisting of technical schooling which last five years for the lower level and seven years for the upper level. The education on Burundi is normally commences on October until June annually, it is conducted in Kirundi language in the lower grades and French in the secondary level (spainexchange, 2012).
Most of the education in Burundi is free and it is compulsory to children between the ages of seven to twelve to have education. Children are the most important things for Burundian. Burundian sees their children as the insurance of the future success. But only 50% of the eligible children go to school and only 8% of the eligible children go to secondary school. The political instability of the country has affected the essential of having education causing it to be hindered. The lack of teachers and supplies are also became the factors of the education to be hindered.
Considering these facts, many parents tend to choose their children to stay at home to care for their younger siblings and work at the field to help their parents. Languages Burundi is a country that has strong oral traditions that consists of fables, legends, poems, riddles and stories. Therefore, a person must learn this country’s languages in order to understand better about the rich oral heritage of the Republic of Burundi (NALRC, 2011). Stanford (2007) stated that the two ethnic groups that called Hutu and Tutsi speak one and the same unique language – Kirundi.
The Twa group even though they speak with different dialect, their main language are also Kirundi. Kirundi is Bantu language that is the mostly spoken by Burundians and it is also the official language of Burundi’s centuries-old cultural heritage. Burundi’s neighbouring countries such as Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo are all Kirundi speakers as well. Meanwhile, French are their first foreign language that has become an administrative language. On the other hand, they also have Swahili that is a mixture of Arabic and Bantu languages.
Burundian used this language in order to do trade and business in much of East Africa and it is mostly spoken in the capital city, Bujumbura and in the region of Tanganyika Lake (Embassy of the Republic of Burundi, 2011). The last is English. It is taught in some of their schools and rarely used in their country but it is becoming increasingly important because of the international market and business world. Politics (Map of World, 2012) Stated Burundi government is based on republic structure. The Burundi government is divided into several branches for the convenience of administration.
The major branches include executive, legislative and judicial branch. The executive division comprises of the president and the council of ministers and the legislative branch comprises of a national assembly and a Senate. The judicial section consists of the Supreme Court and the other constitutional courts. The president holds the most important position in the government of Burundi and is also responsible for electing council ministers during election. The President is supposed to serve the country for a five-year time span after which election is held.
The political ideology of Burundi is election which for example in the government structure, the Burundians choose and elect their president, governor and others by voting. This ideology of politic is common in many countries, it is likely the same of the democratic term where people has the power to vote and express their voice to choose their own choices. Most of the democracy country like Burundi, the people in the country is the most influence in the political system. Religious Burundi religions consist of 60% of Roman Catholic, 5% of Protestant, and about 10% are Muslims.
The remaining populations follow their traditional beliefs or do not have any religions. At first, the government regarded Catholic Church as a pro-Hutu. They required them to ask for permission if they want to arrange a religious gathering, they have also banned the Catholic youth movement and closed down the newspaper and radio station. However, the major Pierre Buyoya, ended all the restriction in 1996 when he served presidency (Map of World, 2012) Burundi human right has allowed them to choose their religion according to their preferences, they practiced freedom of religion.
The Burundi government also considered discrimination and abuse to any religion law as a serious offence. But fortunately, the Burundians respects each other religion very well. The first Roman Catholic mission was set up in 1898,and the Protestant arrived in 1926. The Roman Catholic Church performs several social ceremonies; wedding is one of their ceremonies as well (Everyculture, 2012) And recently, they have allowed the couples that have undergone the HIV/AIDS test by showing their certificate. This action is to prevent the rise of the HIV cases and to increase people awareness about this deadly disease in Burundi.
The leader of the Islam community named Mohammed el-Amin guides the populations of Muslims in Burundi (nationsencyclopedia, 2012) Even though the populations of Muslims in Burundi are considered very small, the government had ensured that they are not discriminated. Therefore, to honor the sentiments of the Muslims the government had declared Eid Al-Fitr as their national holidays of Burundi. On the other hand, Stanford (2007) stated that traditional religion is a form of animism in which physical objects are believed to have spirits.
They have great respects to their dead ancestor. In the Hutu traditions, they often visit this spirit with no good intentions, whereas in Tutsi belief, the sprit’s influence is more docile. They had the beliefs that cattle has to be treated in a certain way dictated by the religion and are objects of prayer and worship. They also believed that fortune teller has a special power to connect with the sprit. The Hutu group sometimes uses their service to soothe the spirits of their ancestors. The dead ancestors are considered as an important part of their culture.
They also arrange various practices and ceremonies to soothe their spirits, which are seen as powerful influences in the world of living. Social Structure Social Structure is a term that is used to show the social arrangements in society and determined the actions of the individual. The social hierarchy in Burundi was based on ethnicity and determined by occupation and heritage. In Burundi there are several ethnic groups with different social status and the Burundians usually recognized themselves according to their clans.
Tutsi with about 14% of Burundi population enjoying the highest status followed with Hutu (85%) and Twa as the lowest. The Tutsi considered themselves to be an aristocratic group (royal) and sees Hutu and Twa to be their servants (Ndayizigiye, 2005). The process of group formation and perceptions differentiation was the determinant for the key leader in the group to make important decision in the communities. Early differentiation between Tutsi, Hutu and Twa may have realized in a deep psychological need for enemies. This social Hierarchy resulting a conflict between the two main ethnic groups that creates racial discrimination.
However this kind of social structure is strongly politicized in Burundi nowadays. Culture’s Framework Hofstede Power distance. Judging from the culture, Burundi has a high power distance, which means that they had unequal power between their superior and follower. Besides that, high level of power distance in Burundi will affect the way they work in organizations. The people expect themselves to be told on what to do and when to do it. In a high level of power distance like Burundi, the inferiors are quite difficult to express their opinion or advice to the superiors.
This also had caused the Burundians not to oppose to the higher level position in order not to lose their job. High power distance also means that Burundians would expect to be directed clearly by their chief. Thus, the Tutsi as the aristocratic group among the Burundians made most of decision-making. Decision-making will be done mostly from the top management, which will be distributed to bottom part vertically and the inferiors must follow the order from the higher level. There will be consequences or punishments if the followers do not follow the order or opposing the idea of the higher level position.
Individualism vs Collectivism From our point of view, Burundians tend to work collectively towards their own people. But this collectivist relationship was built by racial based in which Burundi has Tutsi and Hutu ethnics. People will work closely with people from the same race, and may ignore people from different race. A person that has an individualistic will always be ignored in the society because the people around them also feel threatened as individualism only think about themselves and seldom think about the relationship of team in the collectivist culture.
In this case, it may generate a racial-discrimination in a workplace. This kind of situation may not be good in building a proper workplace environment, where negative competition may occur in the workplace that is acceptable by the collectivist society. And by having a collectivism characteristic, they are willing to trust and help each other. They can build a better and stronger group to overcome a situation. Trompenaars Ascription vs Achievement If we see from the past history of Burundi’s culture, it can be considered to be more ascription.
As we can see, nepotism was occurred when the eldest son of the Tutsi leader was elected to become the one who implemented a solution to solve the problems in Hutu and Tutsi. From our perspective when the societies are collectivistic, the people are more likely to be more in ascription term as they built their relationship into trust from time to time, so they will inherit what they had to the person they only trust. Basically, in the nepotism country, people will only give something important whether it is a task, job, inheritance or others to family related only. Universalism vs Particularism
The rules, laws and regulations in Burundi are in particularize term in which this is how they judge of other’s people actions. They value more to rule and relationship based than rule based when it comes to business, business contracts and others. There are rules and regulations applied and have to be followed according to the contracts but it is not so absolute. There’s way to bend over the rule when the contracts are implied, unlike in the universalism term which the rules of the contracts are necessary to be followed and the one who breach the contracts have to be fined or sued.
In Burundi, the relationship between ethnic and clan can affect on how the business going. They have a high sense of belonging within the ethnic that relate the business on strong relationship base. Edward T. Hall Communication The communication in Burundi happens to be an indirect and high context basis, because of the communication contain a high context information, the information begins to be implicit and misunderstood by other people. As a result, They cannot accept any comments from others society.
As we can see from the clash of Hutu and Tutsi, they rather argue with each other rather than talk nicely to solve the problems. Despite that, Burundians have a strong sense of belonging to the group, they strongly bond to the family, community and in their own ethnic as well. They have a high commitment to long term relationships, and believe that relationship is a lot more important than the task. Therefore, in Burundi we are not suppose to praise someone secretly or blame someone in public because whenever we comment to a person, that will affect other people who are related to the person you comment.
Project GLOBE Future Orientation The way of thinking of Burundians in doing business is more concern about the present and short-term orientation rather than future orientation. A country is able to develop better and faster when they have a good and powerful leader. A good leader should be able to adapt with the environment but in the history of Burundians, the people themselves did not give chance and trust to the leader to bring up the people to a better state in a long-term. They tend to act more spontaneously for their current problem.
Meanwhile, their business planning can be considered short-term because it usually last about 2-3 years. This short orientation can affect the economic stability of the country because they do not plan for a long-term strategy Assertiveness Since Burundi has announced their independent in 1962, Burundians have been struggling in managing their political system. As what we have identified in the future orientation, the Burundians tend to think shortly by not giving a time for the country to plan and adapt. They value competitiveness, aggressiveness and more assertive towards the relationships with others.
In fact, Burundi has gone through several incidents where their president was killed not long after the election. It was hard for the leader to bring trust and commitment from the Burundians, all the presidents had been trying to bring harmony to the ethnic diversity in Burundi. But again, neither Hutu nor Tutsi believed to people that are not belong to their group, to control and lead the country. This shows that the cultures of Burundi are highly assertive. Gender Egalitarianism In Burundi their gender egalitarianism is considered low which cause a great inequality on gender roles.
There is a lower level of educational attainment of female compared to male. Almost all the female Burundians tends to do the house chores and take care of the children in the family, they also do a part of agricultural work such as planting. Burundians highly honour the female’s childbearing and their daily job. As for the male Burundians, they are the head of the family. Therefore, they do the most of the decision-making. They are usually making a living as farmers, doing business or taking a job in the government sectors. In the government sectors, there re almost no female employees. Uncertainty Avoidance Uncertainty avoidance in Burundi is high as they are the country with long history and they are resistance to change as the history. They had so many experiences in the past on what to decide decisions that avoid risk. And because they isolated to the outside world the culture is not too diverse and it is not easy to bring a new ideas into the culture and they tend to be more closed-minded that cause them not to accept any new ideas and they would likely to avoid ambiguity.
In business world, they tend to follow on restricted procedures and policies in the country. To proof the business is running smooth what they need is a statistics paper that show the facts of the business. The people do not want to take any risk even though they have calculated how big or small are the risk. Humane Orientation Talking about Burundi’s human orientation practices, Burundians cultures are considered having a mid-level of humane orientation. This was shown by the sensitivity to racial discrimination towards different ethnic as they value high humane orientation practices.
However, on the other hand, Burundians prefer to protect and see their own group as more important compare to others. Since the Belgian occupied Burundi in 1925, Tutsi was believed to have a higher power and position in the society. This has caused the Burundians, especially the Tutsi to be highly motivated by the need of power and material possession in the society. While the need for a sense of belonging and affiliation is the main reason why the Hutu motivated. Recommendation / Conclusion Leadership Style In general, the leader or manager in Burundi must have adequate adaptability skill to bring up the team.
The leader must treat every individual as an individual because every individual’s contributions are important. Hence, team leader should manage the pre judgement of stereotype based on their capabilities regardless of their gender, race, age and ethnic. The leadership style in Burundi is chaotic. In the past, they had done several elections to choose the right leader and unfortunately the Burundians did not accept the elected leaders in Burundi. Still, the cause of this case is because racial issues that happened in their country and it is the biggest part that influences Burundi’s problem.
What had to be done is they need an effective leadership that can bring Hutu and Tutsi together and in order to accomplish that it is necessary for the leader to have a charismatic skill so that he can bring the trust to people in Burundi. When the trust is built among the two ethnics, a leader will be able to lead and inspire them with a better views and perceptions. In addition, the leader also need a transformational skills and that is to change the current situation by creating an environment where diverse people can work together and try to accept each other more willingly.
Negotiations Tactics Negotiation always becomes the first stage in entering a corporate business. First of all, both parties have to be conscious and knowledgeable of sufficient information about the opposite party. In business no one would like to accept any loss. They always collaborate and try to understand each other to find a win-win solution as a part of building a good business relationship in trust and communication. In order to achieve that, relationship building must be done carefully to create an absolute understanding.
Unfortunately, most people in Burundi are lack of relationship building that might affecting the negotiations negatively. By building a good relationship among the Hutu and Tutsi, people will start to decrease the racial barrier within them. If both of the ethnics are in a good term, any companies’ negotiations in Burundi will proceed accordingly. Therefore, information gathering and data sharing will be much more efficient and effective to avoid uncertainty. Giving proper and complete information will help them in developing trust among the two different views.
On the other hand, since there are many misunderstood going on between the two different ethnics, it is a good thing that the Burundians have an explicit terms of persuasion because people will understand things clearly if they are to be told to the point of the problems. As nature part of negotiation, concession will happen to achieve a win-win situation. In Burundi concession should be done carefully for instance one of the party should not gave away too much that cause one side loss, because it may be result in another misunderstanding if the party of the negotiation has a ifferent mindset. After all the steps above have been done, agreement will be achieved without any regrets. Communication Tactics It is important for a country that has two different level of social structure like Burundi to critically identified the main problems that has caused the communication problems. Even though Burundians communicate in one language, they often misunderstand the meaning of the message. Thus, Burundians are expected to be patient and forgiving rather than aggressive and fierce in facing differences.
Being a good listener by allowing people to talk and express their messages will definitely help them in understanding the message accurately. In order to keep the communication under control, Burundi needs a person with a knowledge that can tone down a strong statement that considered inappropriate. The person also needs to be able to adjust the timing what to be said and done. Management Tactics A term of “management” is always connected to leadership. A person must have a good understanding in Managerial functions; Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling.
The management tactics that Burundi can considered is to implement a proper long term planning to increase the awareness to future problems and risks. They may improve the teamwork within the diverse ethnic of the people in the work environment to bring together the people and boost up its performance. Besides that, a leader should have a high level of leadership skill, in order to communicate, motivate, inspire, and encourage employee to achieve a higher productivity. Lastly, the leader need to find a better way to control the Burundians in order to keep them in track with the company’s goals.

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