Bubanza: We Danced on Holy Ground


600 ID cards, a global tribe of givers and that hot day under an asbestos roof when earth was heaven.

By Idelette McVicker | Twitter: @idelette

All Images by Tina Francis

Fact: In February, we, a global tribe of heart-givers united to give Identity documents to our sisters (mostly) and brothers in Bubanza, Burundi.  [Original story here.]

Fact: We raised $7,212 in just over two weeks for 601 ID cards, or “blue roses,” as we started calling them. Many purchased bouquets of blue Identity cards for loved ones and friends, in lieu of flowers or chocolates on Valentine’s Day.

Fact: Just over three weeks ago, Tina and I got to be there for the handing out of the final 200 ID cards in Bubanza. We were there with Kelley and Claude Nikondeha and another one of our special friends, Rene August, from Cape Town.

– Heart:

“We are unstoppable now!” she laughed. –Bubanza resident + Identity Card = Citizen of Burundi. 


I catch myself sitting in our Surrey home, still trying to listen for the sound of that Saturday afternoon in Bubanza. That roar–like the sound of a thousand smiles–plays in my heart and I try and listen for it through the past three weeks of time to that day, that very day, when we drove out of Bujumbura into the countryside of Burundi to spend the afternoon in Bubanza.

I never want to stop hearing the sound of celebration that hung so thick and hot in the afternoon air.

I remember getting out of the white Toyota and the moment I reached to open the door, the heaven-ness of it all, overwhelmed me. Bubanza was no longer far away over there. We were in Bubanza.

Bubanza. Right here.

Opening the car door–settting foot on Bubanza soil–that’s when the first tears came.

As we moved through the crowd, every child wanted to shake our hands. And I wanted to shake every child’s hand. And meet every woman too! I remember wanting to stop with every face and look deep into eyes, to speak love and sisterhood, not with words but through my windowed soul.

Children laughed and whistled and yelled and the excitement crescendoed. There was a table set up with chairs–for us, the guests.

As I walked towards the chairs, Kelley directed me to a seat–one of honoured guest at the table.

When I saw where she pointed, I shook my head. My feet stopped and an old story accused, “You are Apartheid’s daughter. That cannot be your seat. You don’t deserve it!”


[Yup. Sometimes the ugly old identity requires a really ugly cry to shake it off.]

But my friend, who knew my heart’s resistance, nodded firmly: “I want you to sit there.”

I took a very deep breath and slipped into the chair beside her.

And with that, right next to the pile of blue roses, I received the grace of a seat at the Table of New Identity.

Next community leaders welcomed us, children performed and the women came and danced.

The place erupted.

Under asbestos roof, the women danced whole with bodies, arms, hips and hearts exuberant.

But it didn’t take long for the invitation, arms stretched out—Come, dance!

We were invited right into the circle of celebration.

I’d quietly slipped out of my flip-flops.

I didn’t just want to dance. I wanted to become one with red earth and stomping feet. I wanted nothing between me and the earth and these sisters and our declaration that this moment—this joyful noise and being here celebrating our personhood together on this dusty earth with fire in our overflowing hearts—was holy ground.

My feet simply declared what my heart knew: This is holy ground.

With a pile of blue Identity cards on the table and hallelujahs in our hearts, God was definitely in our midst.

Then the actual moment–could there be even greater joy–of handing out Identity cards.

Blue roses, fragrant with the smell of heaven.

“This is like a proof of being human,” one woman told us, holding up her ID card.

“We are unstoppable now!” she laughed.

This then must be what the Bible means when it says, those who give, actually receive.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

 What comes from giving of self and joining where God is already dancing? 

This exuberance and freedom.

This shaking off of old story.

This undeniable receiving of identity when you give identity.

This tasting of our own dusty humanity within community.

This must be the running over of Life.


My dear SheLoves friends: 

  • If you participated in giving towards our SheLoves Bubanza project–in dollars and tweets and prayers and shares–thank you so much! This mountain only moved because we joined hands together.
  • I’d love to know: When and where was the last time you danced (or sat or walked) on holy ground?
  • What old story keeps you from taking your seat at the Table of New Identity?


About Idelette:
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women.

I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth.

My word for the year is “Roar,” but I have learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice.

I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago.

I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet@idelette.