Burundi’s government has suspended the Slam festival organised by “Buja sans taboo” after what it called a move to preserve and safeguard the country’s culture and heritage.
In a letter dated February 8th 2022, Burundi’s minister for Youth, Sports and Culture Ezekiel Nibigira said that the drummers did not respect the “sacred principles of the emblematic dance of umurisho w’Ingoma.”
“Burundi Ministry suspends the organized Slam festival by Buja Sans Tabou from this Monday February 07 to 11, 2022 taking place in Bujumbura,” part of the letter reads.
This comes after Burundi’s traditional drummer’s group “Amagaba” caused an uproar as they performed in a full modern suit and tie than the usual traditional renowned attire in colors of the national flag.
The incident happened on Monday February 7th during the official opening of a slam festival in Bujumbura organised by “Buja sans taboo” a French word interpreting Buja without Taboo.
The “Buja Sans Tabou” festival is said to be designed around freedom of expression to artistically question it, and in particular its limits.
“I am stunned! Playing the Burundian Drum in modern suits, ties and shoes! This is the greatest desecration that Burundian culture has known! A cultural treason that should not go unpunished,” twitted the spokesperson of Burundi’s minister of interior Pierre Nkurikiye.
There have been mixed reactions when the video surfaced on social media with some criticizing while others hailed the performance in the modern suits.
“Culture was put by people and the same people can change it and bring in new ideas. So we don’t have to be/remain prisoners because of cultures,” one of Twitter handles named ‘Umwenegihugu’ commented.
“I hope #Amagaba can’t do such a thing knowing that it is against culture. If so, let them ask for forgiveness, or give explanations,” twitted Nkengurutse Christian.
Burundi’s ‘umurisho w’ingoma’ ritual dance and Royal drum was inscribed in the list of intangible culture heritage by UNESCO when the committee for safeguarding of the intangible culture heritage met in Paris in 2014.
The list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity involves elements that demonstrate the diversity of the heritage and the awareness rising about its importance.
The royal drums in Burundi were the pillars of the monarchical power and sacred which were used in only special occasions and 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.