Burundi Decry ‘Misuse of Sacred Drums’ at Nyege Nyege Festival

Burundi Decry ‘Misuse of Sacred Drums’ at Nyege Nyege Festival (News Central TV)

The government of Burundi has decried what it referred to as ‘misuse of the country’s traditional and sacred drum’ at the Nyege Nyege festival that was held over the weekend in Itanda falls, Uganda.

The Ministry of EAC, Culture and Sports said, “Burundi is aware of the misuse of the Burundian Sacred Drum during the Nyege Nyege [Festival]…The Ministry in charge of Culture informs national and international opinion that it will never tolerate anyone who violates Burundian culture and customs.”

The reaction came after photos emerged on social media showing female revellers at the annual four-day international music festival, playing the drums at the festival.

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Burundi Decry ‘Misuse of Sacred Drums’ at Nyege Nyege Festival (News Central TV)

In Burundian culture, women are not permitted to play the drums and are only allowed to dance while dressed in designated clothing.

A 2017 presidential decree concerning the Burundian Drum, indicates in Article 21 that the promoter or group who exhibit the drum without authorisation can be punished through being suspended from showcasing the drum for six months and slapped with a fine of 1,000,000Fbu ($490).

“Article 22: Without prejudice to Article 20, the Ministry of Culture in its powers is able to apply sanctions in the event of inappropriate exploitation of this cultural element.”

Burundi’s ‘umurisho w’ingoma’ ritual dance and the Royal drum is inscribed in UNESCO’s list of intangible culture heritage (ICH).

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The list contains elements that demonstrate the diversity of the heritage.

Burundi Decry ‘Misuse of Sacred Drums’ at Nyege Nyege Festival (News Central TV)
Revelers watch one of the attendees at the Nyege Nyege beat the sacred drum

The royal drums are only used in Burundi on special occasions and important places. The drums were the pillars of the monarchical power and were considered sacred.

It is approved for events such as the coronation of a king, the funeral of a sovereign and the new agricultural season.

Gishora in Gitega province is one of the most famous historical sites of Burundi drummers. The site is and was managed by the local community called the ABATIMBO.

However, lately, Burundi drums have been used as part of entertainment during social function, wedding ceremony and festivals.

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