Photo by Issa Michuzi
Before joining the rebels, he was a teacher, and was not known for his political activities. "I was pushed into rebellion by the inter-ethnic massacres that were taking place at the university in 1995," he says.
President Nkurunziza used to coach a football team in Burundi's first division
His nickname is "East Africa's footballing president"; he studied sports education at the University of Burundi and became a physical education lecturer.
Three days a week, the football loving striker dons his kit and joins his now popular team, Haleluya FC, for matches or training sessions. "The name simply thanks God for what he has done for Burundi," says the president.
"In everything we do we have to remember it is because of him. And when fans watch us playing in jerseys emblazoned with the word Haleluya, there is no doubt in them that this is a God-fearing nation,'' he says.