Burundi’s heroes portrayed

September 2005 -

The Ruciteme Drumming Group will be touring through Burundi in the coming months. But this will not be an ordinary tour. The musicians will present an ode to heroes of the Burundi genocide that took place eleven years ago. Many inhabitants, both Hutu and Tutsi, protected their friends, neighbours or employees from attackers targeting them based on their ethnicity.


Still from video van Maziar Bahari

Iranian film maker Maziar Bahari will travel with the drummers. His interviews of Burundi’s heroes will be shown during the performances. One example is Manirampa Elisée, a Tutsi, who saved the lives of Rosate Nshimirimana’s four children, whose mother is Hutu. Rosate Nshimirimana’s husband was murdered and she was forced to flee, leaving her children behind. Elisée took care of the children.
The combination of images and music virtually forces the audience to think and talk about the events of the recent past. Talking about the murders and rapes is a major taboo in Burundi. The Ruciteme Drumming Group and Bahari hope to change that.

In Burundi, for centuries the drum has been the primary instrument for expressing feelings that cannot be put into words easily. Stories are told by means of dance and rhythm. Adding images of people on screen to the dance and drumming makes it easier for many to talk about their experiences regarding the genocide.

Maziar Bahari is a film maker and visual artist who is internationally respected. Six of his earlier films were shown at the Amsterdam IDFA, where he was also a member of the jury in 2002. Talking about his Burundi project: You might wonder why an Iranian would be interested in a country like Burundi, considering all of Iran’s problems. But taboos that perpetuate restrictions and secrets are not uncommon in Iran. My country also has its blacker periods that most Iranians would prefer to forget."

The Prince Claus Fund is helping to finance the Ruciteme Drumming Group’s tour with Maziar Bahari.