In Burundi’s capital, drummers took part in the final of a drumming competition between participants from all of the country’s provinces.
Listed as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO since 2014, the ritual dance of the royal drum is “a practice that shows happiness” and a tradition that Burundians hope to preserve and share with the world.
“What we are doing now is to put the Burundian drum in front of the whole world.
So that Burundi is talked about everywhere and that people know that its drum is the number 1 in the world,” said Kadende Leopold, a drummer.
This culture has been described as “a spectacle combining powerful, synchronized drumming with dancing, heroic poetry and traditional songs.
“When I play the drum, I don’t know how to explain the joy I feel.
It’s joy, it’s a feeling deep inside.
I feel something rising in me, the drum is joy and love,” said Mugisha Fabrics, a drummer.
Today, the drums are played for entertainment: but for centuries they were a sacred rite, symbolic of a United Kingdom a powerful memory for a country whose recent history has been scarred by civil war and political crisis.
In the country’s Kirundi language, the word for drum “ingoma” is the same as that for the kingdom.
In modern times drumming groups have flourished, performing at weddings, graduation ceremonies and baptisms.
While traditionally a male-dominated field, several female drumming groups have emerged in recent years.
The presidential decree, signed on 20th October, 2017, said that if an organizer gets permission to have drummers perform at an event, he must pay the Treasury a fee equivalent to 245 euros ($280).
This figure is to be paid daily if the group performs abroad.
Burundians on Twitter slammed the decree as an “authoritarian slide” and a “sign of increasing efforts to control Burundian society”.
“This decree means the drums no longer belong to Burundian citizens but to the government”, said Pacifique Nininahazwe, an exiled civil society leader.
Burundi organizes rhythm competitions to cherish centuries-old culture