BURUNDI President, Evariste Ndayishimiye yesterday arrived in Kigoma, Tanzania for his maiden state visit, delivering an emotional speech, thanking Tanzania for its contribution to the peace process in his nation.
He was received by his host, President John Magufuli at Lake Tanganyika Stadium, where he was accorded a 21-gun salute and later headed to the inauguration of the Kigoma zone High Court, before holding talks with his host at Kigoma State lodge.
The Burundian Head of State delivered an emotional speech that left everyone silent in the stadium, after he explained how Tanzania has, for decades, been supporting his country.
He said Burundians are thankful for the good care of their people by Tanzania and its people, and that they have nothing to payback but love.
"We do not call Tanzanians neighbours, we call them 'our parents', and as I stand here, I consider President Magufuli as my father, and I am here to learn from you," said President Ndayishimiye.
He said Tanzanians carried the 'cross' when Burundi was in violence by receiving refugees.
He said Burundi citizens stayed in Tanzania without problems for a long time, and that such generosity explains endless love and brotherhood between Tanzania and Burundi.
" When Burundi sunk into violence, Tanzania did not abandon us, and the late father of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was the first peace mediator, and he did not call Burundians refugees, he described them as visitors from Burundi,” he said.
He said it was Mwalimu Nyerere who escorted Burundian Louis Rwagasore to the United Nation during the negotiations for his country's freedom.
He said Burundi is now a peaceful country, and asked all Burundians who are still outside the country to return home.
"Today I am here in Kigoma, this is my home, I used to visit this region with my family from time to time," he noted.
He added: "Previously, when Burundians came to Kigoma, you would simply think that things are bad at home, but nowadays the situation is different."
President Ndayishimiye added that Tanzanians are not only friends, but also relatives, saying even those refugees who stayed in the country for a long time were offered citizenship.
He added that during a coup attempt in 2015 which aimed to overthrow the late President Pierre Nkurunziza, it was the late Mzee Benjamin Mkapa who helped in bringing Burundians together.
"It was Mzee Mkapa who helped to bring us together, those who had fled the country were called back, and as I speak today, Burundi is one, we have realised that we are Burundians and not Hutu or Tutsi, Burundi is peaceful and politically stable, we will never go back to violence," explained President Ndayishimiye.
According to President Ndayishimiye, Tanzania always considers Burundi a great ally, and it always plans great things for the country’s people.
He said the country is strategising to improve water transport, expand the airport, build a dry port and construct a railway line, for the purpose of supporting Burundi.
Moreover, the Burundian President explained his gratitude to the warm welcome he received as he expressed his appreciation on how Kigoma has changed in a few years.
"I would like to congratulate you honorable President Magufuli for changing Kigoma, it was not like this in the few last years, the town has changed a lot," he said.
He also wished President Magufuli well ahead of the next month general election.
During a brief ceremony, the two presidents were entertained by several artistes, including Ali Kiba, Harmonise and Linex.