YOUR HISTORY: Value of the drum

History, whether good or bad, depicts our past heritage. Rwanda's success stories through expansions under monarchical rule had strength and weaknesses as well. The country always fought very had to retain the royal drum during these wars of expansion.
Nanguburundi could have been taken from Burundi. (David Nkusi)
Nanguburundi could have been taken from Burundi. (David Nkusi)

History, whether good or bad, depicts our past heritage. Rwanda’s success stories through expansions under monarchical rule had strength and weaknesses as well. The country always fought very had to retain the royal drum during these wars of expansion. In my last article, I focused on two main types of drums — Bariba and Basarure — and explained their significance to Rwandans. This week, I want to focus on  Murorwa and Nanguburundi drums.

Murorwa drum

Oral traditions have it that this royal drum belonged to kings from Abashambo clan who ruled Ndorwa kingdom. By the time Kigeli III Ndabarasa captured Ndorwa kingdom, he did not successfully get its royal drum — Murorwa — as a confirmation similar to a war trophy in the Rwandan culture.

Legally, therefore, Ndorwa could not be registered as a Rwandan territory during his reign. This was the time the search for Murorwa drum intensified. One “umwiru” elder in Ndorwa who was known as Rwakomba secretly new its whereabouts but he refused to open up about its location.

The main reason for his refusal was not to be held accountable for ‘selling’ the kingdom to Rwanda as per cultural norms at the time.

Rwankomba lived to his promise until his demise at “Urutare Rwa Ngarama” where he was burnt to ashes.

Nanguburundi drum

As the name suggests, this drum could have been forcefully taken from Burundi during the reign of Cyilima II Rujugira in the 18th century.

It is believed that in Burundi this drum was called Nangurwanda. Now, these names clearly suggest the kind of relationship that existed between the two countries during monarchical rule. Before it was annexed, Nanguburundi was under the caretaker of Abiru from Ababona family of Abatsobe clan.

The last person who was in charge of taking care of this drum was Manywa who was a chief in Giseke.

Manywa is said to be the son of Macari wa Ruvuzacyuma wa Semuzingura who resided in Gikongoro. Fortunately, there were no rituals attached to this drum, it was kept as a war trophy.  This drum can be found at the museum in Huye/ Butare.

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