Drums of Burundi

Burundi is a small country of some 8 million people located in the east of Africa. Drum has an important symbolic meaning in the life of local population. It used to be a mean of communication. Drum was also important during battles. The side who captured the drum of the opponent won the battle. Drum used to symbolize maternity. Different parts of a drum have names like for example breast or womb. Drums are still used at many birth celebrations, weddings, funerals etc. They were used at coronations too.

Karyenda drums
Karyenda drums

Drum called “karyenda” is still considered sacred. It was the symbol of whole nation and its kings (“mwami”). The second important Burundi drum was the “rukinzo.” It accompanied the king on all occasions. The drums were kept in drum sanctuaries. Some of the famous places used for this purpose were the Gishora hill, Higiro hill, Magamba hill and Banga. Hutu families who guarded this sanctuaries were called “abatimbo” or in Kurundi language “drummers who hit hard.” They did not only guard the royal drums. They also built and played the drums. They had a duty to bring them to the royal court when needed. Nowadays drums are part of the Burundi folklore. Very impressive shows are performed by the famous ensemble called the Royal Drummers of Burundi.