Burundi Culture

Burundi Culture

Culture and traditions

Despite years of conflict, poverty and hunger, the solidarity community is of high cultural value for Burundian society. Burundian society, which is also collectivist or relationship-oriented, culturally respects the family and personal relationships and puts them before factual content or individual interests. The Bashingantahe justice system is perhaps the best example of the functioning of traditional collectivist Burundian society in which representatives of the people, the bashingantahe, assumed the role of advocates in the countryside. This system can be rehabilitated again today to promote peace efforts. Social interaction, communication and friendship have a high priority in Burundian society. Basically, it can be assumed that society in Burundi is characterized by a high power distance, ie that there is a strong orientation towards authority. At the same time, there is a great sense of responsibility in traditional society. This shows that the definition of Burundian society in certain cultural orientations is very delicate. THE Burundian culture does not exist. To avoid stereotypes and prejudices, one should always pay attention to the context, the social structure of society (= internal differentiation) and the individual.

According to hyperrestaurant, the cow (Inka) is traditionally venerated in Burundi. Owning cows is still a status symbol today. There are also many customs in the country that can be assigned to traditional religious rites, such as that lizards are not allowed to be killed. Even trees are revered and have a historical significance.

Local literature is largely lacking in Burundi due to poverty and widespread illiteracy. Bookstores are a rarity. Orally transmitted stories, fables and poems exist and are passed on from generation to generation. Roland Rugero and Esther Kamatari are better-known and internationally successful authors.

The theater has recently become more active again, with the country benefiting from the fact that it has a single language in which the plays can be performed. Interactive performances or even the cinema are useful for raising awareness among the population, for example in the fight against malaria or in the area of peacebuilding, coping with trauma or as a preventive measure.

Weddings are usually held very traditionally. As in Europe, marriages are concluded in the Church (the vast majority of the population is Christian-Catholic) and officially confirmed. The actual wedding is preceded by a celebration that is called “dot”called, a kind of bride award presentation. Symbols for luck and fertility – including a cow – are served, the wedding is a great celebration and an important event for the couple’s families. What is interesting is the adoption of western cultural elements at weddings of the upper class, such as the multi-tier cake that you cut together. The Catholic Church as a whole has a great influence. Often the weddings are very expensive for the families or the bride and groom themselves – and quite a few are in debt for the celebration.

Young men hold hands as a sign of friendship – however, holding hands among couples in public is unusual. Kissing in public is also inappropriate.

According to the Global World Happiness Report (2019), Burundi ranks second to last (154th out of 155 countries), a value that probably describes the situation of the people well – if the report is to be believed.

Burundi Culture


Music and dance are of great cultural importance in Burundi. The dances Abatimbo and the fast Abanyagasimbo are popular on official occasions and at weddings. There are some very traditional songs, such as the Imvyino (family song), the Kwishongora (a male song) or the Bilito (a female song). There is usually a lot of singing in church or on festive occasions. The language of all traditional songs and chants is Kirundi.

The flute, the tremor and other traditional musical instruments such as the ikembe, indonongo, urukayamba, umuduri, inanga and the inyagara are used as musical instruments. Modern musicians use the guitar and other western musical instruments.

Burundi today produces a number of pieces of music by contemporary singers who are mainly located in the upper class (pop music, hip hop, etc.) Examples are:

  • Kitoko: Urukundo
  • Big Fariouz: Let them say
  • Big Fariouz: Sinoguhisha
  • Christophe Matata: Kayengayenge
  • Lolilo: Nyemerera

International success was recorded by Khadja Nin in the late 1990’s:

  • Khadja Nin: Mom
  • Khadja Nin: Sambolera – the artist’s most famous song

A relatively young reggae band in Bujumbura criticizes today’s musically grievances in Burundi. The Lion Story group is currently very popular, especially among the younger upper class.

Burundi is known worldwide for its special drumming culture. Performances by specially trained drummers are mainly used for tourists and at weddings, but they are also important in everyday life in Burundi. The drumming is very traditional and partly religious.


The visual arts are less widespread in Burundi than music. Traditionally, mosaics, sculptures and everyday objects with decorative motifs are made. Ceramics and painting are also widespread, although their importance was strengthened primarily by Italian missionaries in the 1950’s. Selling works of art could also boost the economy. In 2012, Burundi hosted the East African Countries Art Biennial (ESTAFAB). However, it is almost impossible to make a living from art in Burundi.


Literary works can hardly be found in Burundi. But slowly, mostly in French, a confrontation with the country and history develops. The Burundian-French author GaĆ«l Faye became internationally known with his novel “Petit pays”, which was also translated into German. The founder of the national newspaper “Iwacu”, Antoine Kaburahe, has published several treatises and books since his flight from Burundi in 2015, including ” Hutsi ” (2019), which also describes the earlier history of Burundi – e.g. the 1972 genocide of the Hutu – is processed.