Beating Drums or Beating Women? An Analysis of the Drum Universe in Burundi


  • Audace Mbonyingingo English Department, University of Burundi
  • Ntiranyibagira Constantin Kirundi-Kiswahili Department, University of Burundi


Burundi, drum beating, marginalisation, presidential decree, women


This essay analysed the legal restrictions imposed on women by the 2017 Burundian Decree No. 100/196, regulating the operation of drums at the national and international levels. It argues that despite the fact that ancient Burundi drums were more than mere musical instruments, they were also sacred objects for the purpose of ceremonial use and were only used in exceptional circumstances and according to specific rituals. However, before the promulgation of the decree, drum beating was more a business-related performance where even some women were participants. This essay posits that drum beating basically represented all the major happenings of the country: enthronements, funerals of rulers or celebrating the cycle of seasons. It is also assumed that the politicization of an erstwhile cultural performance fosters the discrimination of an already marginalised layer of the society; women. One of the most surprising features, however, is that the different parts of the drum are named after parts of the body of the woman. Therefore the questions the researchers attempt to answer are the following: What are the consequences of motivations behind the decree to forbid women from beating drums? How is beating the drum synonymous to beating women? What are the social implications of this decree in this era of women’s emancipation in Burundi?


Elliott, R., & Ladislav, T. (2005). “Descriptive and interpretive approaches to qualitative research” In a Handbook of Research Methods for Clinical and Health Psychology, J. Miles & Paul Gilbert (Eds). Oxford: OUP, pp. 147-159.

Finnegan, R. (1970). Oral Literature in Africa. Nairobi: Oxford University Press.

Guillet, C., & Ndoricimpa, L. (1984). L’arbre-mémoire, traditions orales du Burundi. Paris: Karthala.

Gahama, J. (1983). Le Burundi sous l’administration belge. Paris: Karthala.

Gahungu, P., & Kazoviyo, G. (2011). La problématique de la succession pour la fille au Burundi.

ISTEEBU. (2008). Enquête Nationale d’Évaluation des Conditions de vie de l’Enfant et de la Femme au Burundi-2005.

Ndayiziga, B., & Ngayimpenda, A. (2012). Etude sur la problématique de l’accès de la femme a la terre.

Ndimurukundo-Kururu, B. (1990). Les épithalames burundais. Paris: ACCT.

Ntabona, A. (2009). Itinéraire de l’éducation en famille au Burundi. Une approche interculturaliste et complémentariste. Bujumbura: CRID.

Helbert, P. (ibid). Les messages du tam-tam se répandent en Afrique. Retrieved from

PNUD. (2012). Egalité des sexes et autonomisation des femmes dans l’administration publique. Etude de cas sur le Burundi. Retrieved from

Manciaux, C. (2015). Burundi: what is the ingoma, classified as intangible heritage by UNESCO? Retrieved from

Baranshakaje, A. (2017). Une femme qui bat de l’Ingoma, c’est de la masturbation. Retrieved from

Polo, V. (1998). Des percussions Wagogo Gogo (Tanzanie) Retrieved from







How to Cite

Beating Drums or Beating Women? An Analysis of the Drum Universe in Burundi. (2020). Journal of Postcolonial Writing and World Literatures, 1(1), 15-30.