Burundian Music

Musical tradition: Burundian singing traditions

Musician(s): Inyange - Burundian women's chorus in Burlington, Vermont


Inyange is a Burundian women’s chorus and dance group based in Burlington, Vermont.  The group is lead by Aline Niyonzima, who is also a leader in the Burundian American Association of Vermont.

This song and dance group called “Inyange” is composed of about fourteen women all of Burundian origin located in the greater Burlington area in Vermont. They sing this song as an introduction to their performance. The song helps the singers prepare themselves before they share their music. The song says “This is who we are, we are from Burundi.”

“The following song is about Burundian culture, about the harvest season. Those who harvest are grinding by using a pistil, the words say “I was there at the farm, I was alone, nobody came to help me so let me do it myself” and those who were not active, who were lazy, feel jealous. They say “Oh, now you’re harvesting, next year I should do like you.” The song is meant to encourage those people.”  – Aline Niyonzima

Listen to how the rhythm of the song will help someone who is working with a pistil to grind grain.

The song, in general, means:

Burundian children are traditional dancers. They value their Burundian cultureMany children among those traditional dancers, were born in the refugee camps,They did not know well where they came from (their original countries) But now they do. They did not lose their culture though they were in hardships in refugee camps, They struggled and they are still striving to regenerate their culture.

The song mentions children names, like “Agatha Arihehe.” This means Agatha is to come in front to tell the real story about Burundian culture of how they children dance, show up their style of dancing. Children know many different Burundian traditional dancing styles.

The chorus says: “Ntimurambirwe ni mubahe amashi,” which means:

“Don’t ever be discouraged by Burundian children when dancing, continue to support their dancing by clapping hands and many shouts.”

– from Aline Niyonzima