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The Art and Culture of Burundi

The Art and Culture of Burundi

A. Language

Situated in the heart of Africa, Burundi is one of the very few African countries possessing linguistic homogeneity. Its people all speak the same national language, Kirundi, the medium of expression of Burundi’s centuries-old cultural heritage. French is the first foreign language, which became an administrative language. English is progressively getting important because of the opening of the country to the business world and the international market. Swahili, a trade language above all, is spoken in the cities and along Tanganyika Lake.

B. Poetry and Popular Songs

The culture of Burundi is based mainly on song, poetry, the dance, stories and legends. Poetry is recited at late-night social gatherings; it is centered mostly around pastoral themes. Rich and varied popular songs are rendered at family and communal fêtes and festivals, and are sung during work in the fields.

The shepherds have their own pastoral songs which they sing at the end of the day when leading the animals back from the pastures; and in the home the elders tell the young generation stories and legends relating the life of their ancestors.

C. Arts and handicrafts

The art of Burundi is extremely varied. It is characterized by decorative motifs and geometrical patterns in which the artist’s initial inspiration predominates. This highly stylized art possesses a harmony derived from asymmetry and contrasts that do not clash. It finds expression in wrought iron, wickerwork, pottery, sculpture and bas-reliefs.

The Art and Culture of Burundi The Art and Culture of Burundi The Art and Culture of Burundi


D. Dancers and drummers

Burundi also boasts a wide variety of popular dances each region having its own specialty.

Gitega, in the centre, has its traditional dancers, named “Batimbo,” who perform to the accompaniment of tambourines. These performers have already taken part in international festivals in Washington, Montreal, Berlin, Algiers, Dakar, Munich, Rennes, Tokyo and elsewhere, and have been enthusiastically acclaimed.


Kirundo, located in the north is also the ideal spot for people who love Africa, with its traditional ways and ancestral rhythms, as it is for those who are seeking for silence and peace. Not far from Kirundo lie Kabanga and Mukenke, the cradle of the world famous “ Intore,” troops and dancer-drummers who excel at a surprising and fascinating type of dance. It is also one of the few dance forms in the world where the dancers set the beat for the musicians instead of vice versa.
There are also the Inamukosi and Intore dancers of Muyinga in the North and the Agasimbo dancers of Makamba in the South.

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