Unity Day in Burundi

In the Republic of Burundi, Unity Day is a holiday observed annually on February 5th. It’s a day that attempts to reconcile the differences between different ethnic groups — primarily the Tutsi and the Hutu. The conflict between these two groups has dominated the recent history of Burundi and has resulted in nothing but death, widespread destruction, and severe poverty for the entire population.

This holiday was proposed after the adoption of a new referendum for the country that was approved by almost 90% of voters in the early 1990s. Although there is less ethnic hatred in Burundi than there was previously, there are still major steps forward that need to be made, and this is why this holiday endures.

The History Of Unity Day In Burundi

The independence movement began at the end of the 1950s as Burundi sought independence from Belgium’s colonial rule. In 1962, independence was finally achieved, but this also resulted in a period of political instability in the country.

Hutus took control of the government and ended up denying Tutsis the representation they desired. From the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, the power dynamic between these two groups rocked back and forth. During this conflict, thousands of people were killed, and widespread destruction spread all across Burundi.

This raged on until 1987 when a new government took control. In February 1991, a referendum was held and was approved by 89.7% of the voters. After this referendum was passed, several groups began working on a new constitution.

That was also approved in a referendum and went into effect on March 13, 1992. President Buyoya then declared February 5th as National Unity Day as a way to soothe tensions between the Tutsi and Hutu.

Although this holiday made a valiant attempt to bring together warring ethnic groups, it didn’t stop the violence. In 1993, the newly-elected President of Burundi was assassinated, and the following year, the systematic killing of Tutsis took place. Although the violence isn’t at the levels that it once was, this holiday serves as a reminder of the importance of peace to a modern Burundi.

Observing Unity Day In Burundi

On this day, people across Burundi observe Unity Day. This is done through peaceful protests, reconciliation groups, and other activities that attempt to sow unity between different ethnic groups. This is also a day for people to spend time with friends and family members and to ponder a more united future for Burundi.

Where is it celebrated?
Burundi (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
February 5 Monday
Next year (2025)
February 5 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
February 5 Sunday