Drop the bass

Read / lees in : Nederlands

Source of the Nile / Rutovu / Burundi
We almost peed ourselves.

Burundi and Rwanda were Belgian colonies for a while, so we expected the worst. Totally unnecessary because fortunately Burundi proved to have, contrary to its former coloniser, an excellent road infrastructure. On the other hand, politics are just as big of a mess as they are with our southern neighbours. Among other things because the Belgians favoured the Tutsi minority by letting them occupy just about all of the high positions in the country. After their independence this led to several coups and ethnic violence between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Those tensions are still noticeable as we found out when we visited the former capital Bujumbura on the shores of lake Tanganyika. In February of this year the capital was moved to Gitega from where the king used to reign over the country. According to some people because the president didn’t feel safe anymore in opposition dominated Bujumbura. We too thought that the atmosphere was quite grim, mostly because the city is crawling with heavily armed soldiers who, for instance, freaked out just because I took a picture of a statue in the independence park!

Points of interest

Rusizi National Park / Burundi
The first time I saw a kingfisher that lived up to it’s name.

But I’ll tell you more about the Hutus and the Tutsis when I’ll write about Rwanda. We soon discovered that there are not so many things to see or do in Burundi. And because fuel in this poor country is, just like in Zimbabwe, hard to get by we couldn’t just go touring around the country anyway. So in the end we chose only three places we’d honour with a visit. First Rusizi national park close to Bujumbura, where we’d go searching for Gustave. Second the source of the Nile in Rutovo and last but not least the world famous drummers of Gishora. Apparently world famous, because I for one had never heard of the drummers before. Rusizi wasn’t that interesting because we didn’t see any animals we hadn’t seen before. The source of the Nile was kind of worth it because we can now say we saw where that mighty river starts, and because the guide there was such a nice man. But to say that we were at that point happy to have come to Burundi would be the overstatement of the year.

Gishora drummers

Gishora / Burundi
Dropping the bass

Our last stop in the country was the brand new capital village city of Gitega, population thirty thousand. Apart from a tiny museum there’s really nothing to see or do there. But it can serve as a jumping off point for a visit to the Gishora drummers. After a little searching we found the spot where we they do their thing. Somebody received us asking if we came to see the drummers, and quoted the price. It costs a little over a hundred dollars, but because we had changed our money on the black market our dollar was worth a buck and half throughout the country. Subsequently he pulled out a big drum and started banging it. At first I thought that that was it. But it appeared that everybody was working the land and he was rustling up the crew. What followed was a spectacular and rhythmic show of almost an hour that we wouldn’t have wanted to miss for the world. Such insane energy levels and contagious fun these people demonstrated, truly amazing. Well anyway, judge for yourself. There’s a video!

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