On Nov. 27 the Remesha Drummers performed in Iqaluit’s Aqsarniit Hotel bringing Burundian Sacred Ceremonial drumming to residents of the city. The event was organized by the Nunavut Black History Society and was met with positive acclaim by those attending.
The group has been performing in Canada for around 20 years according to Pierre Ngenzebuhoro, leader of the Remesha Drummers, however they have been around for 30 years, bringing the tradition with them from the Republic of Burundi, a country in east-central Africa.
“Across Canada, everywhere they like it,” said Ngenzebuhoro, “it’s unique in Africa and around the world, it’s amazing to see how we do it.”
Usually Remesha has around 20 people playing in the group, 13 people flew in for the Iqaluit performance.
Remesha has roots stemming back hundreds of years among royalty, says Ngenzebuhoro.
“A long, long time ago maybe in the 15th, 16th century we played drums for the King (of Burundi),” he explained.
It used to be an exclusive right back then to have the honour to see these drummers in action.
“They played for the King, just to symbolize the power of the king. Now for a different generation, (they) do different events, but a long time ago it was just for the king only,” said Ngenzebuhoro.
In 2014 Burundian Sacred Ceremonial drumming made it on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, solidifying the history and heritage behind Burundian drumming.