“I think it says something like ‘victory lord’ and ‘peace creator’ on the statue and similar sparkling rhetoric. Well, this person was something else too, he was the man who took Sweden back into the transatlantic slave trade. Then we should also have a discussion about the appropriateness of immortalising him in this way in the cityscape,” Kitimbwa Sabuni, the Afro-Swedish National Federation chairman, told national broadcaster SVT.
According to Sabuni, Sweden has to join in the global dystopian movement: “What people need to learn is that statues are not living history books in the room, but convey various ideological projects. It’s never pure history. These projects change over time and if we have an anti-racist project going on today, shouldn’t we change the cityscape accordingly?”
Burundi-born Kitimbwa Sabuni is the brother of Liberal Party leader Nyamko Sabuni. According to the UN, in Africa, Eritrea (9 percent) and Burundi (4 percent) are estimated to have the world’s highest rates of modern-day slavery. And they have managed to top this sad list without the help of colonial overlords.
In Burundi today, the humanitarian crisis has left 1,7 million inhabitants with food insecurity. Despite having gained independence in 1962 – more than half a century ago – most people go hungry. Even the “racist” Swedish king and admirer of Voltaire, Gustav III, would have done a better job of managing this country it seems.
He was a patron of the arts and spent considerable funds on cultural ventures and put an end to the legal religious persecution of Catholics and Jews. Gustav III was also the first leader to recognise the United States during its war for independence from Great Britain.
Burundi is potentially self-sufficient in food production, but unending civil unrest, overpopulation, and atrocious governance have contributed to the contraction of its subsistence economy by 25 percent in recent years. Burundi is among the 25 poorest countries in world with a GNI per capita at $770.
Burundi is not a safe destination for travelers either. Most governments advise their citizens not to travel to the country as it is considered very high risk. Both petty and violent crimes are considered “normal” occurrences.