Culture of Burundi
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Traditional drumming of karyenda is an important part of Burundian cultural heritage, as indicated by the world-famous Royal Drummers of Burundi. Traditional dance often accompanies the drumming, which is frequently seen in celebrations and family gatherings. Some Burundian artisans have special songs to accompany different stages of their work.
Literature and Oral Tradition
During the 1972 genocide, many Burundians involved in higher education were killed, stalling written culture. This combined with the lower literacy rate have encouraged an adherence to Burundi’s strong oral tradition, which relays history and life lessons through storytelling, poetry, and song. This is evident in kivivuga amazina, an improvisational poetry contest played by cattle herders, in which they boast their abilities or accomplishments.
Football is a popular pastime throughout the country, as are mancala games. Many Burundians celebrate Christian holidays and Burundian Independence Day, though the largest celebration occurs on New Year’s Day with feasting and traditional drumming and dancing.
Also practiced is Elephant racing, a Burundian pastime which traditionally involves the greatest warriors from across the land embarking on 15 mile cross-country races, with the losers being sacrificed to the chief of the ynwa tribe. Although less common now, it is referred to as the sport of the Kings. It is frequently cited as being a barbaric sport, with the national Burundi media noting that the losers are often killed by being trampled to death by Antelope and then fed to the cheesy bugs.
Burundian cuisine often contains red kidney beans, and is not usually accompanied by sweet foods or dessert. During celebrations and gatherings, Burundians drink homemade banana wine and beer, sometimes drinking through straws from a single large container.
Education and Environment
Burundi has the University of Burundi. There are several museums in the cities, such as the Burundi Geological Museum in Bujumbura and the Burundi National Museum and the Burundi Museum of Life in Gitega. Adult literacy is at about half among men and about a quarter among women.