Moral Courage



Tour Diary


Lena Slachmuijlder

Before taking up her current position as the director of Search for Common Ground [SFCG] in the DR of Congo, Lena Slachmuijlder was the director of SFCG's Studio Ijambo project in Burundi. It was Studio Ijambo that developed the radio show that first recognised the inkingi and organised the 2004 Bujumbura Heroes Summit to honour them.

Lena manages to combine her work on conflict resolution with a passion for African drumming. Indeed, she wrote that drumming's "positive emotional and spiritual impact on [both] drummers and observers" and the opportunities provided for former adversaries to play together, can be a catalyst to reconciliation. [201]

In July 2002, Lena brought together over 800 artists for The Spirit of Sangwe Peace Festival. It was then that she started working with Ruciteme.

Lena likes nurturing young musicians. A Ghanaian friend of hers, a master drummer brought over especially for the Sangwe Festival, helped her with drumming workshops for displaced children in various Bujumbura neighbourhoods. Ruciteme's Richard Ntawe assisted them. "The kids loved it so much that even after the Ghanaian left I kept doing it every weekend..." she said. "We did this through the end of 2002 and all of 2003."

In early 2004, Lena and Richard started working together on Junior Ruciteme, practising with them every weekend until her departure in March 2005. There are now twenty-three members, aged between 5 and 15. They performed at the Heroes Summit in April 2004, and would perform on our tour in Kinama. "I really want to bring them to Bukavu [DR Congo] in July or August [of 2006] for what I'm thinking of calling the Great Lakes Youth Drumming Academy or something like that," she recently wrote to me. "One week of drumming with young Burundians, Congolese, a master drummer and choreographer friend from Kinshasa and perhaps a few from Rwanda. Wanna come?" [202]

Junior Ruciteme performing in Kinama, April 2006

© Burundi Voices Project, 2006.