Uganda : towards a ban on the beating of Burundian drums among refugees

Uganda : towards a ban on the beating of Burundian drums among refugees

The Burundi Embassy in Kampala, Uganda has issued a memorandum prohibiting the beating of drums anywhere in Uganda. It also called on cultural clubs to hand over their drums to the oidice of the embassy. It protests against a behavior described as marginal displayed by Burundian drummers. However, mainly refugee artists do not intend to comply. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

The statement from the Embassy of Burundi in Uganda is sharp. “Given the slippage of Burundian cultural artists in Uganda, we took the decision to temporarily suspend all activities of Burundian drummers, until a new reorganization that respects the laws and the culture of the Burundian drum listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage”, wrote the Ambassador of Burundi to Uganda, Épiphanie Kabushemeye Ntamwana.

At the same time, the Ambassador of Burundi convenes a meeting with all the drumming clubs that are in Uganda. “A meeting for Burundian drummers is scheduled for Thursday, October 6, 2022 at the office of the Embassy of Burundi in Kampala at 10 a.m. You are also requested to bring the drums to keep them before a note establishing their proper use”, adds the note from the Embassy.

For those concerned, the embassy got the wrong target. “I believe that the ambassador is not talking about us”, laments the president of the refugee committee in Kampala.

“We have no relationship with the country’s embassy since we fled Burundi. I cannot enter there, let alone hold a meeting there, otherwise I would have gone home while t is not yet time for me to be repatriated”, says Damien Nyabenda.

As for the request to leave the drums at the embassy, refugees are reluctant. “First, the embassy should thank us because our clubs are participating in the fight against juvenile delinquency and drug use. And then, putting our drums back on is impractical and impossible. They did not contribute anything to buy them. We will never set foot in the embassy”, said Mr. Mamert, a founding member of one of the clubs in Kampala, adding that they were not formally invited.

Same story at Nakivale camp”Here in Nakivale, we also have drums that help us remember our country and our culture. We ignore these notes from the embassy of the country that expelled us. We don’t know each other, so we can’t get along”, said one of the Burundian artists.The Burundian refugee committee in Kampala goes further.

“Preventing me from beating the drum is like forbidding me to speak Kirundi (national language of Burundi), my mother tongue. There is no question of dialogue with the embassy of my oppressor on how to preserve the Burundian culture”, said Damien Nyabenda. Crux of the conflict…Burundi’s outrage stems from the Nyege-Nyege Festival, a cultural event that took place from September 15 to 18 in Jinja district, southern Uganda.

A group of Burundian drummers who had settled in Uganda, but not refugees, took part.Photos and videos that circulated on social media showed women beating the drum with their breasts, bare naked, dressed in mini-skirts or clothing exposing their private parts such as breasts, navel and b

buttocks.This behavior did not please BurundiThe ministry responsible for youth and culture strongly condemned “the lightness of Burundian drummers who authorized women to beat and dance to the rhythm of Burundian drums, knowing full well that rhe Burundian culture fiercely forbids it”. “It is a shameful scene for Burundi, while Burundian drums already constitute the world cultural heritage recognized and protected by the UNESCO”, said indignantly the Burundian ministry in charge of culture.This behavior is also condemned by refugee clubs in Uganda.“We challenge all artists to respect the myth around the drum. And then, that whoever transgresses this myth be punished and redressed severely but individually”, they said.Drums of Burundi have been inscribed, since November 2014, on the list of intangible heritage of humanity by the UNESCO.The ritual dance around the royal drum is an event that combines the sound of the beating of the drums with dances, heroic poetry and traditional songs. The entire population of Burundi, at home or abroad, recognizes it as a fundamental element of its heritage and identity.

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