Various events are being held across Burundi as the country celebrates 60 years of self rule after weaning off colonial Belgium administration in the much isolated East African state.
The people of Burundi celebrate Independence Day on July 1. Formerly administered under Ruanda-Urundi, the two countries in East Africa acquired their independence from Belgium on July 1, 1962.
The Burundian state first came into existence in the late 16th century. The state was ruled by a traditional monarch with several princes beneath him. It was an independent kingdom until it was subsumed into the colony of German East Africa.
This colony included Burundi, Rwanda, and mainland Tanzania in the 1890s. After Germany’s defeat in the First World War, the Belgians assumed control of these territories under the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
Ruanda-Urundi, modern-day Rwanda, and Burundi became a Belgian League of Nations mandate territory in October 1924. Even though the territories were ruled by two European colonial powers, the monarchy in Burundi continued.
In 1959, Burundi’s king Mwami Mwambutsa IV requested independence from Belgium and established Burundi as an independent country. Burundi declared independence on July 1, 1962, and changed its name to Burundi.
It became a constitutional monarchy with Mwami Mwambutsa IV as king. On September 18, Burundi joined the United Nations. The years following independence have not been peaceful. Burundi has seen decades of coups, and civil wars.