Hello Reader, I have been away for a while but I am back . This article is a reply to Naomi’s article on the new law about Ingoma
How are you doing? I hope this article finds you well, as I so want you to read it.
I read your article on “Yaga Burundi” and disagreed with every word you wrote. I decided to write as “Umurundikazi” who believes that her rights were somehow violated. If you follow me on Social media, you definitely know I am passionate about women empowerment. Consequently, I run a business whose majority personnel are young-adult women. Our sisterhood relationship has shaped, changed and keeps turning me into this woman who passionately articulates about her womanhood. In fact, women relate to each other in all ways.
Naomi, the title of your article said, “I am for gender equality but women shouldn’t play Ingoma.” What a confusing statement! How can you believe in the equality of the two sexes then agree with a law making one gender access to something while forbidding the other sex to even dare? What is gender equality to you? Maybe we understand it in different ways, but as far as I know, “Gender equality” cancels every narrative starting with “because I am a woman, or because I am a man, I shouldn’t do this, or I should do this”. Gender equality enables us to embrace ourselves without considering what is masculine or feminine. As we know, they are stereotypes; trying to make us fit into the image of what each gender should look or be. Gender equality puts the two genders on the same scale, acknowledging no one is above the other but they compliment each other in a very harmonic way.
Even though I was confused by the title, I went past it and read the whole article. Unfortunately, you left me more confused. You wrote “500k BIF is a lot, but the law is a necessity, if we consider how Ingoma are undervalued”. Maybe I grew up in the wrong side of Burundi but during the eighteen years I spent in Burundi, I did not see anything that “Abarundi “ takes pride in like “Ingoma”. Again, maybe we understand differently the meaning of value. Which brings me to this question: How do you come to a conclusion that something part of a nation’s history and culture is undervalued? How do citizens or residents of a nation prove that they value a heritage from their ancestors? Is it by the amount of money they pay to access it? Or is it the place the heritage holds in the community?
Naomi, we have to agree that “Ingoma” is a heritage that every “murundi” adores. Neither money nor law was needed to make “Abarundi’s” value and that’s obviously because they already do have it. They make our events full of life. You cannot understand how excited I tend to be, gazing at the faces of foreigners at their first experience with the whole “Ingoma entertainment.” It boosts a sense of pride of what we inherited from our ancestors. So, this new law is simply going to draw us far away from our culture. It is not going to make “abarundi” value “Ingoma”, they already do. But just like it was during the monarchy era for certain clans, “Ingoma” is becoming a luxury. The heritage that was accessible and affordable to any “murundi” is now for the rich ones. The heritage that Burundian parents were easily pushing their kids to enjoy is now not that easy to access. Allow me to also remind you that time and generations change. The same way, our culture has evolved, at some point we will reach the undervalued point you talked about. As the new generation would not have been taught how “Ingoma” is such a powerful heritage, accessible to any “murundi”
Dear Naomi, now back to the law-forbidding women to play “Ingoma”. You wrote, “…The other angry case is the interdiction for women to play “Ingoma”. Dear sisters, allow me to shock you, I agree with it…”
Oh well, I wasn’t that shocked. I have heard worst testament from women, defending our patriarchal system. But the fact that you knew your statement was going to shock women; it somehow shows us you knew something is wrong. Anyways, you explained your point of view using culture. Culture is a very complex matter, especially when we make it unchangeable or untouchable. By the way, before I go further, I love our culture in general. I think it is a beautiful culture full of amazing traditions but also made of very and very toxic, misogynistic
rituals and traditions. Our culture has evolved through the past ages. The more educated and empowered women have got, the more rituals enforcing rape, abuse, forced and arranged marriages were cancelled and are only part of our history. So, when I read from you saying “it is what the culture says”, I wonder if you truly understand the concept of culture. Let’s even forget that our culture is so patriarchal, and men centered, but focus on the fact that culture embeds beliefs and lifestyles separating one group of people from another. So, do you want “Abarundi“ to be known for a culture oppressing women? Our culture as it is today has got rid of many traditions and embracing new ones as a developing nation. We no longer have: Gutera intobo, Gukazanura, Gukanda, Gucura, Gushinga Icumu and many more. Therefore, do not mix traditions with culture. It evolves and gets better.
We also know that cultural rules are made by people (the system=men) and imagine in 2017, men in power wake up, and decide what five million Burundian women aren’t supposed to do when it’s about a generational heritage passed over to more upcoming generations from their ancestors. And they justify it, using “culture”. A culture that once had a tradition of stoning pregnant women before marriage, a culture that once allowed a man to sleep with his daughter in law, a culture that once praised rape hidden in many traditions. Hear me out, I am not attacking my culture, I am pointing out how far we have come as a nation. From leaving monarchy and its theories which made one clan important than the other to a conflict between ethnizes and now learning to live together as one people. A culture that once had very abusive traditions against women to a culture that is currently trying to empower women but fails when it tries to keep its string with its old and evil ways of existing.
Naomi, you pointed out how “Ingoma” represents a woman’s body, which may be true, but you also pointed out how “Ingoma” represented the kingdom of Burundi and was only played for the King. That tradition was abolished as “Ingoma” became accessible to anyone and became part of our events. Why not cancel as well the ideology of “Ingoma” representing a woman’s body? I even find the whole narrative very insulting but like always our men centered society makes a woman’s body, a man’s kingdom. Why not simply make “Ingoma”, a heritage we freely enjoy with no entitlement, since a woman playing it is like masturbation (rolls my eyes). Do we need a whole misogynist meaning behind it? How about we make it a very powerful heritage accessible to any “murundi” and make songs praising “Abarundi n’Uburundi“ while playing it. Again, things part of a culture can be adjusted and put in context. Especially in delicate times as today where women are raising up for their freedom. The world has more women than men, for that reason, the smartest nation is the one that chooses to side with women.
My dear let me end this article by mentioning again that gender equality cancels every narrative defining what’s masculine or feminine, then, allow me to tell you how wrong you sound when you wrote “ With “Imvyino” and traditional dances, we have enough place to express our talents, elegance. Why play “Ingoma”? “When it would affect our feminine features…” You sound like someone who can laugh at Serena Williams for her physical features, which I love, but I am lazy to work for. My simple advice to you as a woman, try to live your life outside of what the society taught you about masculinity and feminism, it will help you live free and accept people in all ways they come.
Naomi, you ended your article saying, “Gender equality doesn’t mean women competing with men.” Which put you in the category of “patriarchal princesses”. These are women who believe in their emancipation but still are busy defending a system oppressing them. The moment you see that reclaiming your power, as a woman equals to competing with a man, just know that you need to unlearn the “being a woman narrative”. And embrace the narrative of being a woman who wants the access to all the privileges and opportunities men get not because she is in competition but simply because her whole wellbeing requires the equal system support men get. Just like an ear and an eye would never compete so women and men would gain nothing from a competition.
I hope “Abarundi” would not allow their culture to embrace laws, oppressing women. We have come too far from very toxic traditions, to be delayed by rituals of our past. Burundian women wherever you are, power to you!
Until next time, Take care
You can also read this article in French on Yaga Burundi