Burundi celebrated the national funeral of former President Pierre Nkurunziza, who died suddenly on June 8, aged 55, on Friday.
Two and a half weeks after the sudden death of President Nkurunziza, at the age of 55, after 15 years in power, Burundi Meditation, on Friday, June 26, celebrated his national funeral.
He received a national tribute at Ingoma Stadium in Gitega. Covered with the Burundian flag, the coffin was transported on a jeep led by a brass band and accompanied by a release of generals who marched in steps.
The guests, distributed around the stadium according to their province of origin, were dressed in white, with a men’s photo of the deceased printed on shirts and T-shirts, at the request of the authorities.
Screams, tears and moans
In the honor stand, the former lady, Denise Bucumi, was surrounded by new Burundian head of state Évariste Ndayishimiye and former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete.
As the coffin passed, spectators were invited to stand up without applauding and bending. When the ex-president’s body arrived at the stadium, screams, tears and groans were heard. Several people then appeared, influenced by the emotions or the strong heat.
“It is not easy to find the right word in a situation like this, where the family of his late Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, his friends and the whole country have lost a father, a friend, a rescuer and a head of state without having had time to follow it, “said the new President ÉvaristeNdayishimiye on the verge of screaming.
Funeral convoy under strong police protection
“The Bible says that we must thank God in all things,” said Denise Bucumi, incessantly. “God gave me the strength to accept Nkurunziza’s death and thank him.”
Like his wife, who is a pastor evangelist, Pierre Nkurunziza was a very faithful Christian who believed he was favored by divine anointing.
Despite Covid-19, social distance measures were not respected and, with the exception of a few officials, no one wore a mask at the stadium.
Declared a public holiday, the day began at the Cinquantenaire Hospital in Karusi (center), where Pierre Nkurunziza died, with “a tribute paid to the deceased in the strictest family intimacy by his wife (…), his children and relatives, “an AFP presidential official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The funeral convoy, under strong police protection, then left the hospital to go to Gitega, the country’s administrative capital 60 km southwest of Karusi. Thousands of people gathered on the road to return tribute to the late president.
Pierre Nkurunziza was then buried at the site of a building that would be dedicated to the victims of the various crises the country has gone through but which has not been unanimous and never inaugurated. A new monument will be built there later.
This sudden disappearance shocked the country. If Pierre Nkurunziza officially died of a cardiac arrest, the Burundians today wonder if their former president, who was in “breathing trouble” at the time of his death, according to a medical source contacted by AFP, did not succumb to a new coronavirus.