Sixteen volunteers from the Amahoro Youth Club led a peace parade of over 100 bikers across the city of Bujumbura.
The bikers, on cycles and motorbikes, are the taxi drivers of the city, young men who in previous years have been used as pawns in outbreaks of political violence.
Burundi’s second general elections begin later this month, and there is great concern that the relative peace of the last year will be threatened by political manipulation. Many people have not received their ID papers and already people are reporting stories of violence and beatings at political meetings.
The 100-strong bike parade, supported by police offices, crossed the city, stopping traffic and drawing crowds of onlookers. Each biker wore a T-shirt with the words ‘carnaval de paix’ and handed out leaflets amongst the crowds, calling on people to work together for the reconstruction of Burundi.
The parade culminated in the public gardens at the centre of the city. The bikers and the gathering crowds came together to listen to speakers discussing the threat of increased violence in the upcoming burundi elections. The speeches covered issues of the history of democracy in Burundi, the reasons for voting and the dangers of political violence. Videos were projected across the square; showing the violence that ripped through Kenya in 2008, and a documentary following the fates of young men who had been used by rebel leaders and political leaders in previous elections.
The day ended with songs of peace and words of hope for free, transparent and non-violent elections.