Burundi has issued a statement condemning what it termed as “misuse of the country’s traditional and sacred drums.”
“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 burundian ministry of East Africa, Culture and Sports tweeted after the incident.
According to Article 21 of the 2017 presidential decree concerning the Burundian Drum, the promoter or group who exhibit the drum without authorization can be punished by being suspended from showcasing the drum for six months and slapped with a fine of $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.”
The Nyege Nyege festival was a music extravaganza that took place last week at Itanda Falls in the Eastern part of Uganda.
The festival welcomed visitors from various countries all over the world who came in with different cultures since culture was among the main attractions of the festival.
Among the revelers that flocked the four-day festival were citizens of Burundi. The organizers then put up performances to portray Burundian culture among them the music of the Burundi Sacred Drum and the drum indeed worked like magic pulling together huge crowds who gathered around the performers to take in the beautiful sounds and dances from Burundi.
The revelers too got engaged in the dance and drumming taking turns to bang the long drums draped in Burundi flag colours. However, this did not go down well with the Burundi cultural authorities who say women are not allowed to play the drums and are only allowed to dance along while dressed in cultural regalia.
Burundi’s ‘umurisho w’ingoma’ ritual dance and the Royal drum is on the list of UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage (ICH).
The list contains elements that demonstrate the diversity of heritage.
The royal drums in Burundi were the pillars of the monarchical power and were considered sacred, hence only used only on special occasions and in important places that proclaimed the country’s great events such as the coronation of a monarch, the funeral of a sovereign and the new agricultural season.
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