|Elder Hakizimana & Elder Mwamba|
These two missionaries are among the 97 outstanding missionaries currently preparing in the Ghana MTC to enter the mission field next Tuesday. They will be serving in the French-speaking nations of the DR Congo and Kinshasa. Elder Hakaizimana's path to the Ghana MTC is quite sobering.
Burundi is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa, bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least five hundred years. For more than 200 years, Burundi was an independent kingdom. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Germany colonized the region.
After the First World War and Germany's defeat, it ceded the territory to Belgium. The Belgians ruled Burundi and Rwanda as a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. Their intervention exacerbated social differences between the Tutsi and Hutu, and contributed to political unrest in the region. Burundi gained independence in 1962 and initially had a monarchy, but a series of assassinations, coups, and a general climate of regional instability culminated in the establishment of a republic and one-party state in 1966. Bouts of ethnic cleansing and ultimately two civil wars and genocides during the 1970s and again in the 1990s left the county undeveloped and its population as one of the world's poorest.
Since Burundi's independence in 1962, there have been two events called genocides in the country.The demographics of Burundi through the 1960s and 1970s were roughly 86 percent Hutu, 13 percent Tutsi, and 1 percent Twa (Mann, M., 2005. The Dark Side of Democracy, p. 431). For most of this period, the Tutsi maintained a near monopoly on senior government and military positions.
Small bands of Hutu and Tutsi 'gangs' have consistently fought both in and around the capital, Bujumbura, often growing into larger groups armed with machetes and attacking each other. Tensions finally reaching the boiling point on 21 October 1993 when President Ndadaye was assassinated, and the country descended into a period of civil strife.
It was on April 8, 1992 that Elder Lasare Hakizimana was born in Bugendana in the Province of Gitega. He was the 8th of 10 children, 7 of whom were living at home with their parents when tragedy struck. The family is all Hutu. Late one night in 1995, a band of Tusti pounded on the front door and fired shots in the air. Lasare's father refused to come to the door, so the unruly band burst open the door and came into the parent's bedroom and murdered them both with knives. Hearing the commotion, the seven children ran out the back door into the forest, terrified for their lives. They went to the nearby home of Lazare's oldest brother for refuge. The next day his brother told the younger children that their parents had been wounded and were in the hospital. He did this to help calm them down, but they quickly learned that their parents were brutally killed. For the next year the seven children lived in very difficult circumstances with their older brother and his wife, who had three children of their own. Conditions because so rough supporting 10 children that the seven were put in an orphanage where they could stay until they were 18 years old. Lazare left the orphanage when he was 16 and went back to live with his older brother while he pursued his schooling.
When Lazare was 20 years old, a close female friend invited him to her church. He politely turned her down a few times, but she persisted so he accompanied her to Church. It was there he felt a wonderful spirit and readily accepted the invitation to be taught by the missionaries. Shortly after the lessons, he was baptized. (This was 3 years ago). He said that in gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he learned to forgive. There came upon his mind and soul a peaceful spirit that rested in his heart. After he finishes his mission, his dream is to become a doctor.