Friday, March 16, 2007


A Born Again Ex-Rebel Leader President Nkurunziza and the First Lady of Burundi
Photo by Issa Michuzi

Pierre Nkurunziza was born in December of 1963, in the northern province of Ngozi, Burundi. The son of a former governor, he had a sister and six brothers, two of whom died during the killings following the assassination of Hutu President Melchior Ndadaye by disgruntled soldiers in 1993. Three others are reported to have died in the bush. Mr Nkurunziza is married, with two sons, aged nine and 11. He has become a born-again Protestant, and is described by those close to him as religious but devoid of fundamentalism. Nkurunziza belongs to the younger generation of Hutu leaders, whose political and military careers started after President Ndadaye's killing.

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.

Nkurunziza faces the challenges of elevating the standard of living of millions of Burundians, which has plummeted during the 12 years of civil war, compounded by endemic official corruption. At the same time, he has to reassure the minority Tutsis that their future is secure in a democratic government led by a Hutu majority. His government will also have to facilitate and engage the only reported active rebel group, the National Liberation Forces, in dialogue with the hopes of reaching a peace agreement.

President Nkurunziza used to coach a football team in Burundi's first division

Nkurunziza always makes time for football, despite the pressure and demands of managing a sensitive political transition in his war-wracked country.

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.


luihamu said...

You are the best,i think your focus is well prepared.

Well i admire the man,he is my model,he takes time to play football,now tell me is their any player defending him while playing?one other thing what about the bodyguard?

African Liz,i thought you should have mentioned atleast the reasons why this guys went to internal war.jah live.


Hi Luihamu, I will cover the Burundi and Rwanda conflict topic seperately. As for bodyguards and football I think there are strategies in place to ensure the president is safe. Imagine the commentators and crowds at this football game cheering...Halleluya! Halleluya has the ball.....GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL
This indeed would be game worth witnessing