Moral Courage



Tour Diary


Tour Diary

With the Gishora drummers
In Gitega Ruciteme was joined by the Gishora Drumming Group, a legendary troupe headed by 70-year-old Antime Barashankaje. Gishora's roots date back to the 19th century, when they performed exclusively for the court of King Mwezi Gisabo.

Slachmuijlder relates a story Antime told her about the 1972 genocide: "Nearly everyone had gone into hiding. They feared being arrested and killed. Even myself, I was hiding. But when things calmed down, and the killings stopped, the army who were in charge of keeping the security on our hillside wanted to send a message to the population that it was now safe and to encourage them to return home... I was contacted by the captain of the army and asked to call together the drummers... We started to play the drums. We saw, slowly, one after another, the people come out of their hiding places... It was the very first sign of hope of peace. The people who had come out thanked us the drummers, saying 'we were able to fine the strength, courage and hope in peace when we heard the drummers playing.'" [104]

Another Gishora player, Kurera, spoke about a similar event following the 1993 crisis: "The community was dispersed until we started to play. Then they understood there was really peace. Without realising it, the Hutu and Tutsi found themselves together watching us drum. Little by little, they forgot about their divisions because they have the same joy of watching the drumming." [105]

This joy was shared by eveyone present today. Despite his advancing years, master drummer Antime performed with the energy, confidence and agility of a much younger man. The most junior member of the group was barely a teenager. The performance ended when the Gishora and Ruciteme drummers joined together for an electrifying finale.

© Burundi Voices Project, 2006.