Burundi’s culture is founded on indigenous custom and the influence of surrounding nations, but civil instability has hampered cultural significance. A typical Burundian dinner consists of sweet potatoes, maize, and peas, since farming is the primary industry. Meat is only consumed a few times each month due to the cost.
When many Burundians of close acquaintance assemble for a party, they drink impeke, a beer, from a big container together to signify togetherness.
Burundians of note include footballer Mohammed Tchité and musician Jean-Pierre Nimbona, better known as Kidumu (who is based in Nairobi, Kenya).
Crafts are a popular type of art in Burundi and make excellent presents for visitors. Basket weaving is a common skill among local craftspeople. Burundi also produces other crafts such as masks, shields, sculptures, and ceramics.
Drumming is an essential component of cultural heritage. Burundi’s world-famous Royal Drummers, who have been performing for over 40 years, are known for traditional drumming on the karyenda, amashako, ibishikiso, and ikiranya drums. Dance often accompanies drumming performances, which are common during festivals and family gatherings. Burundian dances include the abatimbo, which is performed during formal events and rites, and the fast-paced abanyagasimbo. The flute, zither, ikembe, indonongo, umuduri, inanga, and inyagara are some notable musical instruments.
Burundi’s official languages are Kirundi, French, and Swahili. The country’s oral culture is robust, with stories, poetry, and song conveying history and life lessons. Burundi’s literary genres include imigani, indirimbo, amazina, and ivyivugo.
Basketball and track & field are both well-known sports. Martial arts are also popular. There are five main judo clubs in the city: Club Judo de l’Entente Sportive, located downtown, and four others scattered around the city. Mancala games and association football are popular pastimes across the nation.
Most Christian festivals are observed, with Christmas being the most widely observed. Burundians commemorate Independence Day on July 1st each year. The Burundian government proclaimed Eid al-Fitr, an Islamic festival, a public holiday in 2005.
Burundi’s government amended the legislation in April 2009 to criminalize homosexuality. Persons found guilty of consenting same-sex relationships face two to three years in jail and a fine ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 Burundian francs. Amnesty International has criticized the action, describing it as a breach of Burundi’s responsibilities under international and regional human rights legislation, as well as a violation of the country’s constitution, which protects the right to private.