The government of Burundi has mobilized its citizens in a massive demonstration against Rwanda accusing its neighbour of allegedly stealing its sacred signature drumming.

“When you have a narrow mind and maintain it carefully, it can only narrow down,” Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe Rwanda’s Minister of State in Foreign Affairs Ministry in charge of the East African Community described the action by Burundi.

Meanwhile, Burundi’s Culture Minister Pelate Niyonkuru said in a statement, “The country that we don’t have good relations with now wants to steal our drum beat.”

Burundi summoned its citizens into this mass demonstration on Saturday organised by its Culture Ministry and the Bujumbura city authority.

According to the organizers, the goal was to protest against a group of Burundian refugee drummers living in Rwanda who performed in the East Africa’s got talent competition held in Kenya.

Protesters were largely composed of taxi drivers, bicycle taxi operators and a few groups of drummers. They sang songs hostile to the Rwandan government.

The demonstrators walked through Boulevard Mwezi Gisabo near the Kamenge campus to the office of the Rwandan embassy in Burundi in downtown Bujumbura.

Demonstrators assembled outside the Rwanda Embassy and were addressed by Godefride Hakizimana, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture.

“Rwanda is an enemy of Burundi. After failing to destabilize the country, they now want to hack the Burundian drum. They want to take ownership of our identity. This is unacceptable,” said Hakizimana.

The Himbaza Drummers – a group of drummers who took part in the East Africa’s Got Talent show, fled Burundi since 2015 and sought refuge in Rwanda.

“We are all against this group that has claimed the Burundian drum in the East Africa’s got talent contest. The Burundian drum is sacred. Nobody has the right to hack it; it would erase the story of a whole people, “added Abed Duniya, who represented local drummers in ceremonies.

The organizers of East Africa’s got talent say that the group of drummers did not represent any country. “The doors were open to anyone with legal residence in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania or Rwanda.”

They say in a statement that the group of drummers applied as individuals. “They did not represent any country,” they conclude.

Burundi’s laws prohibit people from playing the traditional drums, otherwise known as the Royal Drums without authorization from the government.

Statistics from Rwanda government show that by the end of May there were 149,855 refugees. Of these Burundians represent 48% of the total while Congolese constitute 51%.

In 2015 thousands of Burundians fled their country to safety in Rwanda after a failed coup against the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader and a born-again Christian, believes he ascended to the presidency in 2005 with divine backing.

The coup was a climax of protests against Nkurunziza who was seeking a third term yet he had completed his constitutional mandate.

Extrajudicial killings, disappearances and attacks have been ongoing since the foiling of this coup that has forced more than 100,000 Burundians fleeing the violence to Rwanda and other neighbouring countries

The Express News

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