Burundi’s president Evariste Ndayishimiye on Wednesday was in the center of the limelight as he surprisingly wore traditional clothes and took on the stage to command the drummers (Abatimbo) in Gishora while ending his nationwide tour that started on January 7th.
Wearing the colors of Burundian flag as a traditional wear for the drummers in Burundi, bare footed, the Burundian president took on the stage with drummers in Gishora sanctuary as he danced and drummed to the rhythm of the country’s recently inscribed heritage in the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
“Safe guarding our culture is a duty incumbent on all patriots,” twitted President Evariste Ndayihsimiye.
Burundi’s royal drum
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.
“We are happy because the president came to greet us and played drum with us…he is the first sitting president to do so,” Oscar Nshimirimana the leader of the drummers in Gishora told the EastAfrican in Gitega.
“We need to love the Burundi drums and support it by teaching the young generation and whoever wants to learn it,” said Mr. Nshimirimana.
The Gisghora sanctuary preserves 119 year old drums and is the place where the country’s first drums were born as the place served as a royal palace of Mwezi Gisabo.
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.
Gishora in Gitega province is located in the eastern part of the country and one of the most famous historical sites of Burundi drummers, the site is and was managed by the local community called the ABATIMBO.
Gishora manage sanctuary drums as the Burundi’s culture tradition which restores the overall architectural kingdom in the country as the famous drummers present Burundi’s basic culture and heritage found in the center of the country.
Burundi drums have so far turned into leisure or as part of entertainment during official ceremonies and festivals.
All over the country, there are several groups of the ‘abatimbo’ which means the drummers formed and being regarded as an income generating activity in the country.
In 2019 Gishora received 601 tourists before covid-19 struck the country, according to the Burundi Tourism Office 585 tourists visited the place in 2020.
Gishora (Gitega) marked the last site of tour for president Ndayishimiye’s campaign for domestic tourism after travelling to Bujumbura, Rumonge, Bururi, Muramvya, Kirundo and Karusi.
President Ndayishimiye accompanied by his family during his nationwide tour to inspire and raise awareness for domestic tourism.
Tourism in Burundi before the pandemic contributed more than 20 percent of the foreign exchange earnings for the country, according to the government the country has more than 120 touristic sites.
According to the Burundi Tourism Office the number of tourists declined significantly since 2020 when cases of covid-19 were reported in the country, in 2019 prior to the pandemic Burundi received more than 2.6 million tourists but the number declined significantly in 2020 to 553,389 a decrease of almost 80 percent.