Archbishop Rowan Williams and Mrs. Williams were greeted with jubilant traditional drumming and dancing at their arrival in Bujumbura, Burundi's capital, last Friday. This first-ever visit of an Archbishop of Canterbury to the Province of Burundi comes at a time of rebuilding following years of civil strife in that country.
Upon his arrival, the Archbishop said that the aim of his visit was to "affirm and praise the work of the Anglican Church in Burundi" and "to show that we pray and care for the needs of the nation." He expressed his "hope that the church, under its new leadership, will continue the great work that it has done for reconciliation and development." Concluding, the Archbishop said: "So, we are here to celebrate with the church; we are also here to learn what we can do to assist the process of reconciliation."
Archbishop Williams resumed his words of encouragement to the Church of Burundi in his sermon at the enthronement of Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, two days later. He reminded the Church that it is "supported by Christ alone" and implored those gathered in Burundi's national stadium: "Depend on him in faith, and you will fully play your part in helping this nation to be transformed and led towards God's peace and justice."
On Monday morning, the Archbishop met with the House of Bishops of Burundi in order to hear the bishop's concerns and hopes for the province as a whole and for their individual ministries. Theological education for clergy and laity was a prominent theme of this meeting.
Later in the day, Archbishop Williams spoke about the importance of higher education in an address to students at Burundi University. "The university," he said, "has the task of not only educating its own students, but of educating the whole society." In a post-conflict context, he said, it is important "for the university to help people throughout the country to imagine a different kind of life for themselves. Lasting peace and reconciliation will only come when people see a wider world in which their choices have a meaning."
Archbishop Williams then visited the Kamenge Quarter, an area of Bujumbura particularly affected by the recently ended civil conflict, where the church is now making a significant contribution to rebuilding and development.
Archbishop Williams' activities on Tuesday morning will include a tour of a school, a hospital, and a theological college in the Diocese of Matana. In the afternoon, he and Mrs. Williams will attend a reception hosted by the President of the Republic of Burundi, HE Mr. Domitien Ndayizeye. Mrs Williams will also visit a Mothers' Union literacy project in Gatumba and the university hospital in Bujumbura.