Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Barundi are a culturally and linguistically homogenous group of people living mostly in the Republic of Burundi, a small landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of east central Africa. Like in neighboring Rwanda, the hierarchical relations between peoples of ethnic Hutu, Tutsi and Twa identities has been the most important aspect of social and political organization in Burundi. Exaggerated during the colonial period, and strategically mobilized by ethnic politicians in the context of post independence transformation, this differentiation has been associated with cyclical violence in the region. Painful legacies of this cycle include the genocide of Hutu by Tutsi in Burundi (1972), of Tutsi and Hutu by Hutu in Rwanda (1994) and of Hutu by Tutsi in Congo (1996-1997).


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Africa --Central Africa



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number.

The Burundi collection (FO58) provides historical, cultural and economic information on Burundi culture and society, circa 1907-1998. Some of the documents discuss the colonial period based on information collected in 1911 (Meyer 1916, no. 1), 1929-1931 (Hall 1938, no, 3), 1935 (Smets 1946, no. 2), and 1956-1957 (Albert 1963, no. 4). Important themes covered include physical geography and material culture (Meyer 1916, no. 1), ethnicity and social structure (Smets 1946, no. 2), law and custom (Hall 1938, no, 3), and gender roles and cultural ideals (Albert 1963, no. 4).

Other documents deal with political processes and important historical events in the post independence period including the politics of genocide in the Great Lakes region. This includes R. Lemarchand’s (1998, no. 6) analysis of the genocide of Hutu by Tutsi in Burundi (1972), of Tutsi and Hutu by Hutu in Rwanda (1994) and of Hutu by Tutsi in Congo (1996-1997). The collection also includes a book by a professional anthropologist who lived among Burundian Hutu refugees in Tanzania (Malkki 1995, no. 5).  Malkki focuses on the ways the displacement experience of these Hutu refugees led to the creation of "essentialist" Hutu and Tutsi ethnic identities and the horrible violence that has been generated from them both in Burundi and neighboring countries.

For more detailed information on the context of the individual works in the file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

For additional information on the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa peoples see the Rwandans Collection (FO57).

Overview by

Teferi Adem

 Abaganwa - royal lineage - use "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)" with "LINEAGES (613)"

Abashingantahe - board of wise men selected from members of royal lineage and respected villagers to serve as judges - use "JUDICIAL AUTHORITY (692)" with "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)"

Abayangayanga - Itinerant mer­chants- use "RETAIL MARKETING (443)" with "DOMESTIC TRADE (438)"

Abazimu - spirits of deceased people - use "CULT OF THE DEAD (769)"

Abiiru - court ritualists - use "PRIESTHOOD (793)", with "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)"

Bugabire - cattle clientship - use "SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND GROUPS (571)"  with  "PASTORAL ACTIVITIES (233)"

Ganwa - princes chosen to serve as territorial chiefs - "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)" with "TERRITORIAL HIERARCHY (631)"

Im­iziro - religious prohibitions, mostly involving eating certain foods or marrying cer­tain relatives - use "AVOIDANCE AND TABOO (784)"

Inzu - lineage - use "LINEAGES (613)"

Ibwami - Royal residence - use "PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)" with  "MILITARY ORGANIZATION (701)"

 Inkwano - marriage gift - use "MODE OF MARRIAGE (583)"

Ivyariho, singular icariho - Hill Chiefs - use "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)"

Shebuja - a patron who gave a gift (in the form of a cow or land ) to a man of lower status who thus became his client - use "SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND GROUPS (571)"  with "GIFT GIVING (431)"

Ubugabo - heir (usually a son) designated to role of parental authority - 428/593

Ubugabire - a patron ­client relationship - use "SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND GROUPS (571)"  with "GIFT GIVING (431)"

Umwami - king - use "CHIEF EXECUTIVE (643)"

Umupfumu- medicine man, diviner - use "MAGICAL AND MENTAL THERAPY (755)" with "REVELATION AND DIVINATION (787)"

Umusozi -  A hill­side community command by a rep­resentative of the chief - use "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)", with "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)"

Umurozi -  a sorcerer - use "SORCERY (754)"

Umuryango - clan or lineage (patrilineal de­scendants of a common male ancestor) - use "LINEAGES (613)" with "CLANS (618)" and/or "RULE OF DESCENT (611)"

Umuvurati - rainmaker - use "MAGIC (789)"

Urugo – homestead - use "HOUSEHOLD (592)" with  "SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)"

Indexing Notes by

Teferi Adem

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