Church and Society: How the Church Helped Burundi to Navigate Its Historical Challenges
Keywords:Church, Burundi, Rwanda, Hutu, Tutsi, Twa, Colonial, Civil War, Reconciliation
Burundi experienced recurrent armed violence for 43 years, from 1962, with dire consequences. It resulted in thousands of people losing their lives and properties, internal displacements, and others fleeing the country to neighbouring countries while others remained orphans and poor. Before the coming of Western missionaries, Burundi was arguably an organised kingdom where the king “Umwami,” his sons “Abaganwa,” and the elders/advisors “Abashingantahe” controlled the entire administration and management of the country. This paper argues that the conflicts in Burundi’s history were rooted in poor economic performance, ethnic tensions, and a lack of democratic principles. It explores the role played by the church during this tragic period to bring peace, social cohesion and unity. In addition, it looks at initiatives by the church to bring people together in training on trauma and healing, sensitising people to fight hatred, and promoting peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. Church leaders worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to bring the Christian community an awareness of their role in transforming Burundi.