By Lidewyde Berckmoes Two weeks ago I was invited to give a talk in a colloquium organised in Brussels in light of the 50 years of Independence of Belgium’s former colony. The colloquium, with the title ‘at the cross-roads,’ was organised in the beautiful Palais d’Egmont, giving the meeting a very formal but also celebratory aura. Speakers and guests invited were mostly prominent Belgian and Burundian diplomats, scholars, and civil society representatives: for instance, two former presidents, the ambassador, and a professor who has been publishing about Burundi since the 1960s. I was well aware of my somewhat different standing, but felt honoured to be one of the speakers. Finally, I thought, I could share my research findings on the predicaments of youth with people who may actually have some influence in Burundi!
Excited about my upcoming adventure in Brussels, I was chatting about it with a few of my youth interlocutors over the internet. One of them, a very talented young student, answered to my question on what I should not forget to say in my presentation: “I hate the idea that people in Europe think that Burundian youth do not like to work. If some of us steal or kill, it is to survive! It is hard to find a job in Buja (Bujumbura)!”