This past Friday our small family piled into our car and drove to Bubanza. We celebrated the completion of the first academic year of Kwizera Academy, a school we founded just last year. On the drive home, slicing through the Burundian countryside, I thought about what this landscape has come to mean to me. I felt more deeply what I hope it means to my son who is native to this place. I’m not a poet, but these are the strands of words I captured as we traveled home in the bright noonday sun…
We watch the passing landscape as we cut across the Burundian plain.
I keep your iPod tucked away on purpose.
This is your landscape, son.
Be bored by it, absorbed by it,
notice something new,
recognize what’s universal.
Steep in the hot colors; let them stain you.
Reds, greens, yellows awash with sun,
bulging bunches of bananas (still chartreuse) balanced on bikes,
rice spread on the roadside, resting in their golden husks,
pyramids of orange mandarins stacked on rickety tables.
This is your palette.
Born to this soil – it’s yours
and it matters.
The mingling of soil and soul always does.
You belong to this land irrevocably –
beyond passports, birth certificates, even adoption decrees.
Your connection is like Adam’s,
a shared substance with red dirt,
variations of green vegetation,
ombre-shaded elevation from deep silver-tipped waters of Tanganyika
to greyed hues of distant (and many) rolling hills
touching the brilliant sky blue.
This place is your birthright.