At the ongoing ‘East Africa Got Talent’ television show in Nairobi-Kenya, modeled on the famous ‘America Got Talent’, a group calling itself “Himbaza Drummers” presented a performance using drums.
This style of drumming, coupled with elaborate displays, is known for being Burundian. It is the cultural export the Burundians have been sending to the world.
In 2017, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, signed an act that would deal with the legal regulation of playing drums.
According to the controversial law, yet from Senegal to Madagascar, all over the African continent, drums have been the centrepiece of cultural expressions, but from now, not everyone is allowed to perform these ancient musical traditions in Burundi anymore.
However, Burundian officials argue that this ancient cultural tradition has been known in the country for a few hundred years as it dates back to the ancient kingdom of the Burundi people.
In the meanwhile, the “Himbaza Drummers” were so good the judges voted them to the next round of ‘East Africa Got Talent’. It means the fight over the drummers is only beginning.
Reacting to this performance, Burundian authorities have accused Rwanda of stealing their cultural pride, drumming, and doing it very badly.
They also lambast the organisers for not advertising the show in Burundi.
"Not Original and not Authentic at all. These guys should be ashamed for debasing the quality and the cultural originality of Burundi drums in Rwanda," said Willy Nyamitwe, a senior advisor and spokesman of Burundi’s President Nkurunziza, said.
The show was only meant for four of the East African Community, but performers have also come from South Sudan and Burundi presenting themselves as refugees.
Burundi has been in a political crisis since President Nkuruziza declared his intention to seek a third term.
Relations between Burundi and Rwanda, rarely warm, have been on the downswing in recent months.
Rwandan President also criticized Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term, and accused him of harboring a Rwandan rebel group.