Burundi is a country which, since its independence in 1962 until now, has been living in a cycle of violence that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of its people. The main historical dates that are unforgettable are 1961, 1965, 1972, 1988, 1993, including the current political crisis on 2015..it’s still important to take into account some of key driving factors that still influence politics in the current situation such as: i) unhealed wounds caused by crimes committed in the past, ii) political manipulation of the history, iii) identity based manipulation by politicians, iv) lack of reconciliation and rehabilitation of victims of different crises happened since the independence, v) the culture of corruption and impunity, vi) nepotism, vii) social exclusion of some categories of people and poor governance. Though they may not be exhaustive, the factors cited above still influence substantially political leadership in Burundi. Burundi is also counted among the poorest countries in the world. But despite all these, Burundian society remains hopeful for real change. People are doing different ways to survive and to help one another.
Since January 2019, MIPAREC MIPAREC is implimanting a project aiming to Build capacity of Church leaders so that they actively act as peace brokers in their congregations on one hand, and on the other in their neighbourhoods.
This project aims to make the church through these leaders very dynamic and active in the process of consolidating peace in Burundi. And it’s crucial to have such an opportunity that shall facilitate a kind of platform of churches and other faith based institutions in order for them to contribute effectively to the wide process of healing the wounded hearts and reconciliation between Burundians.
Survey of what would be the Role of Burundi Churches in Peace Building
- Altering behaviors, attitudes, negative stereotypes and mind frames.
A key element for transforming ethno- identity conflict is altering behaviours, attitudes, negative stereotypes and mind-frames of the parties.
- Healing trauma and injuries
Conflicts in Burundi often take place between groups that live closely. These communities usually have a long history of violence and gross violation of human rights. During conflict, civilians suffer, fostering bitterness towards each other.
- Dissemination of ideas e.g. democracy, human rights, justice and development
Absence of democratic values, human rights, institutions that promote social and economic justice and sustainable development leads to violence (Galtung 1990).
In divided societies, structural violence can be volatile, since it can be a fertile ground for the dynamics of cultural violence.
For that reason, democracy, principles of pluralism and human rights and bodies that ensure social and economic inclusion in development need to be woven into the fabric of these societies in order to prevent and resolve conflicts.
- Drafting committed people from a wide pool due to their broad community base
Resolving complex conflicts requires involvement of all segments of the society involved and a large number of unwavering people committed to peace.
- Challenging age-old traditional structures
In Burundi, there are traditional structures that discriminate against certain segments of the society. These structures facilitate institutionalization of structural violence, and when coupled with cultural violence, they often lead to direct violence. In societies where religion plays a key role, these structures are justified. That is the case in Burundi especially for women.
- Reaching out to the government, effecting policies and getting in touch with grassroots
Lederach (1998) says middle-level leadership and the grassroots level can effectively contribute to conflict resolution. Religious actors fall into the description captured by Lederach.
- Mediating between conflicting parties
If increasingly, religious leaders are intervening in conflicts as mediators. If church leaders who possessed moral power, in addition to their moral authority, and are often connected to the parties in some way then they will play the role of traditional mediators as an impartial outsider.