When considering its surface, Burundi is over-populated. The total population today is 6 million inhabitants with an average growth rate of 3.1% per year. The average size of families is 5 persons. In general, 90% of the Burundians live on agriculture.

Origins and history of Burundi population are not known. What is certain, though, is that on the arrival of the first white explorers and missionaries, Burundi was an old United Kingdom, and its borders remained almost the same, unlike other African countries in which borders were artificially set by colonisation. It is worth mentioning that Burundi was occupied by Germany at the end of the 19th century before being put under Belgian control after World War I.

There are 3 social groups or groups improperly called “ethnic groups”: Hutu 85%, Tutsi 14% and Twa 1%. Unlike real ethnic groups, Burundians have spoken one and the same unique language – Kirundi – for a long time. They share the same values and live in the same villages. They all live on agriculture combined with livestock.

There is no historical or identity reference which distinguishes them. Nevertheless, the Batwa are not well integrated into the social order. They do marry among their own families and don’t like to practice agriculture. In some areas, they are even disappearing. Despite the cultural, territorial and administrative unity of the Burundi people, their recent history has been characterised by tribal wars between Hutu and Tutsi, the height of which was reached in 1993. This date means the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye (the first Hutu President) and the beginning of systematic massacres of Tutsi and Hutu who had not supported the Frodebu party. Since then, many people from both sides have died.

Negotiations have been taking place for two years in Arusha, Tanzania, between all the Burundi parties and political movements in an effort to put an end to violence and find a new peace formula for all. The negotiations should be concluded before the end of the year. Tribal divisions were introduced for the first time in Burundi by the Belgian colonial administration in 1945, using the policy of “divide and rule”. Before that period, there is no indication of tribal conflict between local communities.

But, one should not be mistaken because the great majority of the population (all the communities together) continue to live together as before on the same hills, they go to church, school, markets, bars and fetch water from the same springs. Hundred of thousands of tutsis continue living in displaced camps though, fearing death at the hands of their former hutu neighbours who burnt and destroyed their property, they are pushing to flee. Hundred of thousands of hutus also live under difficult humanitarian conditions in protection sites for security reasons, the objective being to protect them from the rebels. Hill councils are being held as usual and private ceremonies are still good occasions for gathering everyone. Social relations have not been affected by war except in the border areas. _”Burundi Today” wants to emphasise on that indestructible umbilical cord_.