Burundi’s government has banned drumming at unofficial events – including cultural ceremonies and weddings – in an attempt to preserve the purity of the age-old practice that is internationally recognised.
All groups seeking to perform “cultural shows” must now register with the ministry of culture and are not allowed to perform outside of official ceremonies without permission, a decree signed by President Pierre Nkurunziza says.
It also bans women from playing drums.
“It is strictly forbidden to those of the female sex to beat drums. They can however carry out female folk dances accompanying the drums,” AFP news agency quotes the decree as saying.
This is an attempt to stop the new trend of Burundian women drumming. Traditionally, women never played the drum. It is seen as a symbol of women – the carving represents her body, the belly her vagina and the protruding sticks her breasts.
The decree also says that any group which wishes to perform abroad would first require the ministry’s permission.
Burundi’s ritual dance of the royal drums is recognised by the UN cultural agency, Unesco, as being an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity”.
Unesco says many of the drummers are currently recruited from guards of drum sanctuaries.
The rituals are said to awaken the spirits of the ancestors and drive out evil spirits.
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