As Burundi plans visiting royalty, marching bands and fireworks to mark 50 years of independence from Belgium, in neighbouring Rwanda the ceremonies have a more sombre tone.
Burundi and Rwanda jointly gained independence from Belgium on July 1, 1962. Formerly German colonies, Rwanda and what is today known as Burundi were declared Belgian protectorates after the First World War.
Only Bujumbura has invited representatives from the former colonial power for Sunday's celebrations. Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders, Prince Philippe and his wife Mathilde will attend.
Kigali prefers to look inwards. Since the beginning of the week, conferences have been held in the Rwandan capital to reflect not only independence, but also on the 18th anniversary of the coming to power of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, which put a stop to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
According to local radio the Rwanda Defence Forces have organised a marching parade in front of a number of invited foreign dignitaries, but not Belgians.
Brussels stands accused of having sowed the seeds of ethnic hatred in the country.
In a statement at the beginning of June, the Local Administration Ministry reminded the country that "independence was obtained from a bloodbath and burning houses."
The statement alluded to the 1959 troubles that preceded Rwanda's independence, where Hutus massacred their Tutsi neighbours, burned down their houses and killed their cattle. Thousands of Tutsis opted for exile.
The RPF accuses Rwanda's former colonialists of having supported the massacres that it says were a prelude to the 1994 genocide.
"Colonisation left us with a heritage of sectarianism, discrimination, bad governance, suspicion and distrust among the children of Rwanda," read the statement.
In contrast to the muted celebrations in Kigali, residents of Bujumbura have repainted their houses, spruced up their offices and filled in the numerous potholes in the streets of the city.
Saturday will be given over to celebratory football matches, Sunday to prayer followed by a firework display -- the most spectacular in 30 years.
Monday will see the police and army march across town in brand new Chinese-made uniforms, estimated to have cost the country $1.5 million. Joining in the celebratory mood, Beijing also donated a medium-sized jet to Burundi.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame will be one of the guests of honour at Monday's parade.
"We want these celebrations to really shine," said a source at the Burundian presidency. "That's why we have invited no fewer than 11 heads of state and government."
The party will last throughout July, with the inauguration of schools, sports centres and clinics. Bujumbura has a $2 million budget for the celebrations funded by the state, individuals and friendly states.
Zephirin Maniratanga, who heads the organising committee at the presidency, hopes the ceremonies will beef up national reconciliation in a country that has lived through decades of massacres and civil war.
"President Pierre Nkurunziza hopes the 50th anniversary is a time for us to come together and celebrate to reinforce national reconciliation," he said.© ANP/AFP