Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 9.COM 10.10

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Burundi has nominated Ritual dance of the royal drum (No. 00989) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The ritual dance of the royal drum is a spectacle combining powerful, synchronized drumming with dancing, heroic poetry and traditional songs. The entire population of Burundi recognizes it as a fundamental part of its heritage and identity. The dance calls for at least a dozen or so drums, always in an odd number, arranged in a semicircle around a central drum. Several are beaten in a continuous rhythm, while the others keep to the beat set by the central drum. Two or three drummers then perform dances to the rhythm. The ritual drumming is performed during national or local feasts and to welcome important visitors, and is said to awaken the spirits of the ancestors and drive out evil spirits. Bearers are recruited from sanctuaries across the country, many of whom are the descendants of drum sanctuary guards. The ritual dance of the royal drum, the values it embodies and the specialized drum-making skills are passed down essentially through practice but also through formal education. Today, the ritual dance of the royal drum is an opportunity to transmit cultural, political and social messages, and a privileged means of bringing people of diverse generations and origins together, thereby encouraging unity and social cohesion.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List:

R.1:   Performed especially during welcoming ceremonies as a means to federate groups of different ages and social backgrounds and to convey social and political messages, the ritual is handed down from generation to generation and has seen an increasingly large involvement of the population, providing it with a sense of continuity and constituting a marker of identity;

R.2:   The ritual dance creates a space for dialogue, solidarity and a sense of community between generations and communities and its constant reinterpretation by each of the dancers testifies to human creativity, to the adaptive capacity of intangible cultural heritage and to its recreation in the contemporary world;

R.3:   The State Party intends to help safeguard the ritual dance by promoting it among young people, mainly through formal education, support to groups of drummers and to those involved in restoring the associated sites as well as environmental measures to protect trees whose wood is used for manufacturing drums; the safeguarding measures were developed based on the viewpoints of community representatives interviewed through questionnaires;

R.4:   Following an inventory process at the national level, those involved identified the ritual dance as a priority to be nominated to the Representative List; representatives of the communities concerned then participated actively at all stages of the nomination process through workshops and information and awareness-raising seminars; around seventy drummers provided their free, prior and informed consent;

R.5:   The element is included in the inventory drawn up throughout Burundi between 2007 and 2008; concerned communities were involved in the inventorying process through the selection of localities where the work was conducted, the definition of fields of the questionnaire, the provision of inputs and the validation of information.

  1. Inscribes Ritual dance of the royal drum on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.