Sunday, September 14, 2014

Royal Drummers of Burundi

We are in Burundi!        We wanted to see the Burundian Drummers and hear them play. 
So a trip to Gisora and Gitega was in order.  They are in the center of the country.  The road  reminded us of the Alpine loop--very picturesque and steep in places.  
As we started out, Aimable said, "Oh, I think we have company."  There was a bicyclist holding on to the back of the pickup intending to get a free ride.  We pulled over and he let go, but we saw so many of these hitchhikers on the road --bicyclists who had taken their wares to town and now needed to get back up the hill without expending that energy or money to pay for a ride. Two we saw had bought a ride on a motorcycle - bike and all. 

When we arrived at Gisora where the drummers began, we were greeted and allowed to take a few pictures before the show began. 
Highly traditional, the Burundian drums are made from a certain tree considered sacred. 
 In the ancient Burundian kingdom, the drums were played for special occasions like the birth of a baby.  So the drum beats are appropriate for us this week!  Welcome little Grant into our family.  We play the drums here, you celebrate there!

Different drums represent different parts of the society organization.   There is always one in the center representing the royalty.  It sets the pace of the beat.  In the ensemble is a small drum that is never played.  It represents the future generation of the kingdom.  We bought one of these for each grandson.

These drums are heavy, up to 100 kilograms apiece.  They are carried on their heads, then placed in a bow shape.  The dancing is expressive of their lives. 

This particular drummer could jump and throw his feet over his head.  We felt lucky to catch him in this pose.  You can tell how high he is by looking at the shadow on the ground. 

This man, pictured with David and Aimable was with the drummers when they toured the US in 1964.  They played Vegas.  Drummer status is passed Father to Son.

Of course, YOU KNOW WHO wanted to try it!  He was pretty good!  I took a video, but it wouldn't load.  I'll figure out a way to share.

 After the show, we had lunch in Gitega nearby and saw this tree which is considered to be in the very center of Burundi.  It is hundreds of years old.

We continue to be amazed by the loads they carry and their lack of fear.  As we ascended this road to Gitega, we saw many bicyclists carrying huge loads of charcoal coming down.  This rider has three bundles.  One we saw had four.  They are flying down the steep road at at least 60 MPH.  This a a road they share with buses, motorcycles, cars and huge trucks.  No wonder they want to hitch a ride back.  Risking your life both ways.  

This man had been carrying this big pot to market.  He had started at 1 a.m.and still had a long way to go.  We asked if he would put it on his head for us to take a picture, but he was taking a rest and was too tired. 

So we talk about walking to the beat of a different drum.  We drum our fingers and drum up business.  These drums Take the Cake!


  1. Wow! Love your photos and this glimpse into life in Burundi. Of course Dave joined in! So fitting. Glad you two are doing well. Love ya!

  2. Carol, somehow I can't get this to publish!! Here's the third try. Thanks for sharing not only your artistic gift as you post these blogs but also the spirit of your mission. Your love and kindness as you learn about these children of God are such an example to me!! Valerie


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