Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You are Burundian, but have fled, recently. Why?
Clovis Munezero: I am Burundian, but recently I have fled my country.
When I saw that my life was in danger, my friends were killed; my companions jailed, some of my family disappeared and others imprisoned; I have reason to flee my country. I have left my country because it was going through a political crisis and trouble that took a lot of human lives and property damage.
Everything starts on 26 April 2015 when the current president of the Republic of Burundi declares for the 3rd Term, which is unconstitutional. We revolted by demonstrating in streets to defend the Constitution. Some three weeks during demonstrations, a military group attempted a coup that eventually failed.
We had already lost several human lives during the demonstration, which lasted some two months was followed by persecution of any person who demonstrated against the will of this illegal term. Several people have left the country for fear of being killed and others have been imprisoned, others killed.
My turn came on 17 November 2015 when people without uniforms came for me at home after having kidnapped the day before my uncle with whom we lived together. That day I left home and it took me almost two weeks to cross the border of Rwanda-Burundi. I had to change from house to house of friends.
On 28 November, our family member took me in his car up to the border of Rwanda and I crossed. There I stayed with my friend for three days who fled before. Then, I took the road to Nairobi. I reached there after two days on 2 December 2015. I started all over again. A refugee’s life begins.
Jacobsen: What is your own family religious background?
Munezero: My family religious background is Christianity. I was grown up in that family but my parents did not attend the same churches and it was almost never discussed matters of faith. They taught us the 10 commandments of the bible and some verses of the bible based on the good and the bad. What makes us grow with this experience of diversity?
We’re 4 siblings and none does not share the same church with each other and never did us any harm to the family.
Jacobsen: How did you lose faith?
Munezero: How did I lose my Faith; I grew up in the scout family movement with a lot of diversity. Leaders taught us that it is a lay movement: we had nonbelievers, Muslims, and Christians. Growing up in that diversity pushed me in to do some research to find out the event that shaped the world.
I started reading some stories, especially about the Second World War, Vietnam War, Genocide in Rwanda, and what happened in the region as well as colonialism and that the people of the church were involved.
Faith is lost in this way. I replaced it by reason. The belief, I replaced it with science.
Jacobsen: What was the treatment by the community based on your loss of religious faith?
Munezero: The treatment by the community based on my loss of religious faith.
When people noticed that I was no longer part of their belief, above all the people close to the family judged me as part of Satanism, dangerous, but they saw how I was living my life with love, tolerance. I always had a position to defend. I started being tolerated as much as I can so long that I am proud of my orientation.
I to have always influenced the community, I always let my life to talk about me and be up of on my choice. I never had fear of the community for my choice because my family was not against me nor agree with my choice .and I did choose reason and science. Those are my “faith.”
Jacobsen: What is your advice for those who have lost faith and who may experience mistreatment for it?
Munezero: My advice for those who have lost their faith and can be abused.
Every person has the right to choose which way to follow and he/she has to have a reason for every choice. For those people must know well and defend this reason which pushed him/her to make such a decision of “losing faith”:
- Knowing the entourage for not putting you in danger as a “suspect person.”
- Knowing if there are people who understand you and who share with you the way of living.
- Finding people with whom you share your especially daily information and orientation of thinking.
- Seeking to build links with other people by your lifestyle and do not seek to explain everything to everyone.
- When it is threatened and unable to defend yourself, leave the place.
Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings in conclusion?
Munezero: My thoughts or feelings is that; people that already part of the humanistic community, let us act on the responsibility of making our prosperous societies, charitable and trying to make peace on this land and make it a home to all.
Let us live peacefully through our daily lives, teach and influence the world with love and humanism. We are humans, try to be humanists. Thank you, sir, have a good time.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Clovis.