Drummers of Burundi

When outside Bujumbura’s Musee Vivant in 2008, I heard drums being rhythmically pounded, so I went inside to have a look. These lads are members of the Akayaze Dancing and Drumming Troupe. “There are fifty-seven of us,” the head drummer said, “and we’re practicing very hard these days. We hope people like it and can support us with donations.”

The drums were large wooden cylinders, hollowed-out from tree trunks, with larger drums about a meter high. Artists had decorated one in the red, green and white colors of the national flag. Burundian drummers are well known and one ensemble, the Royal Drummers, tours the world. Focus on Cultural Life, a Burundian non-profit, formed the troupe in May 2007 to promote local culture and give orphans, demobilized soldiers, poor people and vulnerable youths a second chance in life.