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Combining a Gorilla Safari with a Cultural Tour

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It may sound in some way or another difficult to you however practically a gorilla trek and cultural safari visit to Rwanda and Uganda can be a success. I know you might have gone to these two nations either on a business trip or on a visit; however I question in the event that you attempted to investigate these two things without a moment’s delay. Joining these two undertakings is a lifetime experience connected with lower costs than anticipated. It allows a traveler to appreciate a portion of the uncommon encounters in the ever-green wildernesses of Africa.

With just 1000 mountain gorillas left on the planet, Rwanda and Uganda have 95% of these incredible apes and a safari to these two nations ensures one to track them in their regular environments. In Uganda, gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Park while for Rwanda, they are found in Volcanoes National Park. Fortunately enough, around these parks are different cultural settings of people with different norms which depict the genuine way of life of an African man.

Around Bwindi Forest for instance, there is a gathering of individuals known as the Batwa and these have attracted a large portion of foreigners who visit the park specifically to meet these people. A tourist once in a while may go to Bwindi just to track mountain gorillas yet as he/she tries to penetrate through the thick rain forests, he/she encounters with these individuals in the forest trying to assemble natural fruits for eating. Because of the astonishment and amazement, the trekker gets tempted to investigate more about these individuals who are at times alluded to as antiquated individuals. Their way of life is genuinely in reverse however rich with social marvels which draw out the genuine picture of how early men in Africa used to survive.

I know a joined safari that includes both gorilla trekking and cultural visit is somewhat tedious and it takes more days however the experience which accompanies it is worth. It takes you nearer to the gorillas in the rain forests of East Africa furthermore close to the neighborhood individuals with interesting cultural settings.

When to go on a gorilla Safari and Cultural tours to Rwanda and Uganda

The best time to visit these two East African nations for this experience is amid the dry seasons. Since these nations share the area and are both close to the equator, they have the same climatic conditions. Both have two dry seasons in a year, mid –December to February and June to September. This is the best period to visit essentially in light of the fact that it’s the point at which the national parks have dry landscapes which makes the movement easy. Amid this time, it is not difficult to discover a gorilla family in the rain forest as they attempt to search for sustenance and water. In favor of cultural tours, dry season is perfect since neighborhood individuals can without much of a stretch be found as you travel through the different villages. During the dry season, people don’t spend much time in the gardens and therefore they are easily found on a cultural visit. It is amid the rainy season when they spend just about the entire day in the gardens making it hard to find them.

Yellow Baboon

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The yellow baboon is a baboon in the family of old World monkeys. The species epithet literally means “dog-head” in Greek, due to the shape of its muzzle and head. It has a slim body with long arms and legs and a yellowish-brown hair. It resembles the Chacma baboon, but is smaller and its muzzle is not as elongated. The hairless face is black, framed with white sideburns. Males can grow to about 84 cm, females to about 60 cm. It has a long tail which grows to be nearly as long as the body. Their life spans are roughly 20–30 years.

The yellow baboon inhabits savannas and light forests in the eastern Africa, from Kenya and Tanzania to Zimbabwe and Botswana. It is diurnal, terrestrial, and lives in complex, mixed-gender social groups of eight to 200 individuals per troop. It is omnivorous with a preference for fruits, but it also eats other plant parts, as well as insects. Baboons are highly opportunistic eaters and will eat almost any food they come across.

Yellow baboons use at least 10 different vocalizations to communicate. When traveling as a group, males will lead, females and the young stay safe in the middle, and less-dominant males bring up the rear. A baboon group’s hierarchy is such a serious matter, some subspecies have developed interesting behaviors intended to avoid confrontation and retaliation. For example, males have frequently been documented using infants as a kind of “passport” for safe approach toward another male. One male will pick up the infant and hold it up as it nears the other male. This action often calms the approached male and allows the former male to approach safely.

Baboons are important in their natural environment, not only serving as food for larger predators, but also aiding in seed dispersal due to their messy foraging habits. They are also efficient predators of smaller animals and their young, keeping some animals’ populations in check.

Baboons have been able to fill a tremendous number of different ecological niches, including places considered adverse to other animals, such as regions taken over by human settlement. Thus, they are one of the most successful African primates and are not listed as threatened or endangered. However, the same behavioral adaptations that make them so successful also cause them to be considered pests by humans in many areas. Raids on farmers’ crops and other such intrusions into human settlements have made baboons subject to organized exterminations projects. It is important to remember however, that habitat loss is the driving force behind baboons’ migration toward areas of human settlement.

Journeys to See Mountain Gorillas in Africa

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Taking journeys to Africa to view the wildlife there is very exciting and rewarding but going there to view the great mountain gorillas is another very amazing experience. With few of them remaining on the planet, mountain gorillas are very interesting mammals that are worth viewing while in their natural habitats. There are only three countries in Africa and the world at large where mountain gorillas can be viewed in their natural habitats, which include Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Mountain gorillas are very endangered wild animals whose numbers had been greatly reduced by poaching while others were killed during civil wars as some of the mountain gorilla national parks had become fighting grounds. After a series of conservation programs especially in Rwanda and Uganda, the mountain gorilla population started increasing steadily and today their total population is estimated at 900, which is also expected to increase in time.

These incredible animals attract a number of tourists who travel from different parts of the world to come and go for mountain gorilla safaris in Rwanda, Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda has a half of the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga area with a total of 10 habituated mountain gorilla families, Uganda has half of the total mountain gorillas in the world (over 450) in the mountain gorilla national parks of Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla national park with a total of 12 habituated mountain gorilla families 11 in Bwindi and 1 in Mgahinga. Democratic Republic of Congo has the least mountain gorilla population with only 6 habituated mountain gorilla families.

How Mountain Gorilla Tracking Is Like

This usually start very early in the morning as guides assemble at the national park headquarters for briefing and allocation to the mountain gorilla family they will be tracking as well as to the guides who will be leading them.

After the tourists are briefed, the guides direct them to the forests as they track the mountain gorillas. A hike through the forest gives tourists an opportunity to view other wildlife species in the forest hence providing a double experience. The hike through the forest depends on the movement of the mountain gorillas and can range from an hour to 5 hours or more.

Once the tourists get to the mountain gorillas, they are given an hour to view the gorillas as they take photographs and learn more about the life in the jungle. Once the hour elapses the tourists are guided back to the national park headquarters from where they are given certificates of participation. A one on one encounter with the mountain gorillas is usually the anticipated moment and its very rewarding and worth hiking through the thick forests. Mountain gorillas are usually on the move as they look for fresh foods and for new places for building their nests for shelter. Its therefore very likely to bump into a mountain gorilla family on the move while others can be seen relaxing or feeding on the green leaves that are in reach of their hands.

Mountain gorillas live in families of close relatives that are usually protected by the dominant silverbacks that usually protect the female and young mountain gorillas in case of any intrusion.

All the tourists interested in mountain gorilla safaris in Africa should endeavor to acquire their mountain gorilla tracking permits. Permits for Uganda are sold at $600 in the high tourist season and $400 in the low tourist season. Permits in Rwanda are sold at $750 while those for Democratic Republic of Congo are sold at $500. All the three countries offer exclusive mountain gorilla encounters that are truly remarkable and life changing.

Explore Haller Park of Mombasa

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Haller Park is a nature park in Bamburi, Mombasa, on the Kenyan Coast. It is the transformation of a quarry wasteland into an ecological paradise. Haller Park holds a variety of plant and animal species which serve as a recreation hot spot to tourists and locals.

Up to March 2007 it held the famous attraction of Owen and Mzee – the friendship of a hippopotamus and a tortoise.

History of the rehabilitation project

Effect of cement production
In 1952, Cementia Holding searched for a site at the East African Coast to build a cement factory. Dr. Felix Mandl found an ideal location 12 km north of Mombasa. Over the years cement production grew to 1.2 million tons per 25 million tons.

The area soon became inhospitable arid wasteland with brackish water. The Bamburi Cement company decided to rehabilitate the quarries which seemed to be an inconceivable task. No plants had been able to establish themselves in the quarries.

In 1959, Dr. Rene Haller was hired as manager of the garden department and given the task to beautify the area. In the 1970s Rene embarked on the reforestation project.

Task
The vital task was to find pioneer plants which could survive the limestone desert. The plants had to survive the fierce tropical sun. After planting 26 plants only 3 of them survived: The damas, coconut palm, and the casuarina.

Casuarina
The casuarina was used initially to colonise the barren quarry floor. The casuarina is adapted to grow under severe conditions. Its branchlets look like pine needles and have a strong outer surface skin which protects the tree against loss of water.

The casuarina could tolerate salty water which seemed perfect for the environment. However, due to the causarina’s high tannin content its needles are too tough and bitter to be broken down by bacteria into humus for other plants to grow in.

Introduction of the Millipedes
Dr Rene Haller observed a red legged millipede (Mombasa trains) feeding on dry casuarina needles and introduced hundreds of millipedes into the quarry forest.

The droppings of the millipede while feeding on the Casuarina needles made it easier for bacteria to break down resulting in a rich layer of humus allowing other plant species to grow.

After 5 years the Casuarina began self seeding and colonising the surrounding area. After 10 years the casuarina trees reached a height of 30 m. After 20 years some of the trees had a trunk circumference of 2.4 meters and the humus layer was 10 cm deep.

Many of the trees began to collapse after 20 years. However they had accomplished their task and created a friendly environment conducive to new plants. The tree trunks were used for building timber and firewood.

Effect on vegetation
More plants distributed by wind and animal established themselves in the quarry. The next tree species were carefully selected. The quarry slowly developed into a sanctuary for endangered species of plants.

Over the years, over 180 species of indigenous trees and bushes have been planted. Modes of propagation of plants however vary, all in the aim of ensuring succession. Vervet monkeys, insects and particular bird species have participated actively in succession within the ecosystem.

They feed on fruits of the ficus sp. trees, whose seeds must travel through an alimentary canal to completely break dormancy. If this step does not take effect, the seeds have to be boiled to achieve the same.

When the three above-mentioned animals excrete, seeds are dispersed in their feces and those that hit fertile ground germinate after some time. This has helped achieve growth in parts of the forest that are not easily accessible by humans.

Animals
Dr. Rene Haller believed animals should play an equally important role in the forest ecosystem as plants. The introduction of the millipedes into the casuarina forest triggered a chain reaction of colonisation by plants and animals.

The creation of new habitats attracted a number of birds, insects and mammals. Some larger mammals were introduced while others moved in.

The mammals had a huge impact on the environment. For example, the bush pig which feed on roots, maggots, and insects helped to aerate the trees root system. The female giraffes feed on leaves and dispersed plants seeds while their feces acted as fertiliser.

The dung beetles also played an important role by helping bring the manure underground where it is broken down by micro-organisms creating further plant life.

Elands
The Elands were chosen for domestication at Haller Park because of its usefulness. The Eland produces milk which is nutritious and has antibiotic properties which allows the milk stay fresh for months. Elands are also resistant to most livestock diseases and tame easily.

Oryx
Rene Haller also introduced Oryx to supplement the Eland group. The Oryx adapt to cope with poor grazing. They feed on dry, nutrient poor grasses. They have a great capacity to digest fibres. During droughts and desert conditions, the Oryx can survive. They are independent of permanent water sources. The Oryx were the perfect candidates for the condition of the park.

Aquaculture
Water was an essential resource for the development of the plant life in the quarry. Water played an important role in the economical and ecological development of the project. The aquaculture system at Haller Park is a commercial viable unit. The unit consists of the fish farm, crocodile area, and the biological water treatment area (Nile cabbage ponds and rice paddy fields). The Nile cabbage is a special plant which removes excess nutrients and impurities form the water body.

Fish Farm
The fish farm is a crucial part of Haller Park. In 1971, The fish farming project started alongside the reforestation project. Rene Haller created a fish tank system. The purpose of the tank system was to give the fish a chance to swim in a constant current. A Tilapia farm was also created in 1980 because of the success of the fish tanks. It produced 30–35 tons per year.

Watamu Turtle Watch

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Watamu Tortoise

The aim of the programme is to protect a small but important nesting population of sea turtles in the Watamu/Malindi Marine Parks and Reserves.

Through a nest protection program, which works in co-operation with local people & Kenya Wildlife Service to protect all nests laid on Watamu and Malindi beaches, local participation is encouraged with a financial incentive scheme.

Daily patrols check for nesting turtles, and tracks in the sand that indicate new nests. Nesting turtles that are encountered are tagged and biometric data collected. Schedules are continuously organised to protect and monitor incubating and hatching nests.

Nests are allowed to incubate in situ unless they have been laid in an area threatened by sea wash, in which case they are carefully relocated to a safe area. Research is also carried out on hatching success and DNA material is collected from the nesting population.

BY CATCH RELEASE PROGRAMME

In 2011 Watamu Turtle Watch had discovered and released 1,365 turtles after being caught in fishing nets. We tagged 544 of these turtles; the remaining turtles were either re-captures, admitted to rehab or were too young to be tagged.

REHABILIATION CENTRE

35 patients were treated in rehab in 2011; 28 green turtles, 6 hawksbill turtles and one Olive Ridley.  31% were admitted due to an infection, 17% due to damage from fishing hooks, 14% were due to poaching , 11% due to blockage from plastic, the remaining 27% was a combination of other factors.

The majority of these turtles were accidently caught by fishermen in Midas Creek – a reminder to everyone to enforce protection of our Creek to protect the turtles’ habitat.

EDUCATION PROGRAMME

Watamu Turtle Watch’s education programme reached over 2,064 students and 156 teachers in 2011. It covered information on three topics: turtles, corals and mangroves. It has worked with 26 local schools but plan to expand to 30 in 2012 due to the keen interest in the area.

Watamu Turtle Watch seen a great change of attitude towards conservation from many of the students. One child says that her father used to poach turtle meat but now he calls Local Ocean Trust if he catches a turtle in his net.

The Marine Scout programme has gone from strength to strength in 2011. Watamu Turtle Watch currently has 7 marine scouts who have all been awarded their certificate in “Basics in turtle welfare and care”.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Watamu Turtle Watch’s community programmes continue to “quietly make a difference”.  Watamu Turtle Watch continues to support alternative income generating programmes to reduce the strain on Kenya’s marine resources.  Beach clean-ups and “Love your local ocean” campaigns continue in every corner of Watamu and around.

THREATS

Sadly the ring netters (a type of fishing method) have continued to threaten the sustainability of our marine life; Watamu Turtle Watch hope systems are put into place for 2012 to prevent the damage witnessed in 2011.  Destruction has been seen on our beaches with an increase in riparian developments and beach interference threatening our precious turtle nesting sites.

Entebbe Botanical Gardens

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Entebbe Botanic Gardens, the oldest national Botanic Garden in Uganda is strategically located at the ‘entrance’ into this country, that is the Entebbe International Airport. Three minutes drive form the airport and you are already in a welcome environment that will take away all your jetlag and initiate you into Uganda’s well known hospitality.

On your way back, the extra time before you catch your flight can best be spent in the gardens and you can be sure of carrying with you that everlasting impression which you will share with your pals back home.

And just 34km away from Kampala, the Botanic Gardens is the place for the city dweller where you can spend your weekend away from the routine noises and hectic daily chores of the city. At the end of the day, you will be feeling better than your anticipation in additional to learning about how you can make the living environment better for yourself and the generation to come.

What makes Entebbe Botanic Gardens so pleasantly special?

  • Entebbe Botanic Gardens has a total land area of 40 hectares.
  • 1.5 km along lake Victoria shore line; all of which present a breathtaking scenery.
  • A walk along the beach into the haunting forest.
  • A rock garden in the Entebbe Botanic Gardens.
  • A medicinal garden which sustains a big proportion of the Uganda rural peasant.
  • The Gardens have a collection of 389 species of higher plants.

In addition to offered leisure, the garden also offers opportunities to learn to care for the environment, taking care and conserving useful plants and real life experiences for students of tourism. By this time all you need is a cool shade and cool refreshment both of which are never in short supply.

A Brief History

In the years after its establishment in 1898, the garden was very active in plant introduction from many parts of the world. Crop species of foreign origin such as cocoa, coffee, tea and rubber were introduced and evaluated.

Uganda’s varied agro-climatic conditions offered a good opportunity for these plants to grow and they have become the main cash-crops of the country.

Experiments on economic crops have been taken over by the Agricultural Experimental Stations such as those at Kawanda, Namulonge and Serere, a move which contributed to the neglect suffered by the Entebbe Botanic Gardens from the scientific community.

The garden has until recently served simply as an area for public recreation and enjoyment, with no attempt made to develop its considerable potential as a systematic collection of plants, and as a centre for research and education.

This education is urgently needed for people from all walks of life, from policy makers to the botanic garden staff. The garden has not been equipped with areas for children or the disabled.

Staff

The staff includes:

a)  The curator
b)  One assistant curator
c)  One officer responsible for the cut-flower garden and potted plants
d)  One officer for plant propagation
e)  One officer for the medicinal plant garden
f)   One clerical officer
g)  One part-time consultant

Current Activities

Since October 1990, efforts are being directed towards the following objectives:

  • Garden maintenance and improvement, which involves construction of three pit-latrines and ten concrete garden chairs.
  • Nursery work, which involves germination of seeds of timber and fruit trees, ornamental trees and some grasses; vegetative propagation of shrubs, herbaceous plants and some grasses.
  • Establishment of a medicinal plant garden
  • Establishment of a cut-flower and indoor garden.
  • Compost-making to encourage organic gardening.
  • It is unfortunate that garden design work is not possible because the garden is unfenced, making it vulnerable to grazing cattle.

Future Objectives

  • The integration of conservation activities with agricultural and genetic resources development.
  • The educational and recreational potential of the gardens will be realized through the development of facilities and services that will benefit both residents and tourists alike.
  • Public involvement in the work of the botanic garden and extension into the community will be a priority.
  • The screening of native plants for utility and possible economic production.
  • A scheme to establish collaboration with relevant institutions in the development and production of native wild plant species of economic and educational value e.g. medicinal plants, wild fruits, fibres, spices, fuel-wood and forage crops.
  • Establishment of ethnobotanical gardens, if possible in each district.

Visit Mtoni Palace Ruins on Your Zanzibar Holiday

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Enjoy an experience of a lifetime at the Mtoni Palace every Tuesday and Friday for the Concert & Dinner. The evening begins with a guided tour around the Palace, which is then followed by a concert of traditional melodies & performances.

During the interlude, a grilled Zanzibari Buffet will delight the appetite. Leave with memories of a “magical night”.

Beit el Mtoni literally means The Palace by the stream. The palace owes this name to its beautiful location on the western shore of Zanzibar. It is one of the oldest buildings of Zanzibar and it was the largest palace on the island during the reign of Sultan Sayyid Said, who moved the capital of his Omani empire form Muscat to Zanzibar during the first half of the 19th century.

At that time, over a thousand people lived in the palace and its direct surroundings. But around the 1880s the palace was abandoned and fell into ruin.

Although severely deteriorated, Mtoni Palace still offers visitors a glimpse into the world of the Arabian royalty once living there.
Entering the palace from the coast line, one steps into the former reception hall. Most guests would not go any further when visiting Beit el Mtoni, since the women in the palace were not to be seen by stranger’s eyes.

But now, visitors can step over the threshold and walk in the footsteps of the Omani household. A visit continues into the inner courtyard, the palace garden and the well preserved bathing complex. One row of baths was used by the courtiers, whereas a separate domed aisle was uniquely reserved for the use of the Sultan and his first spouse.

Princess Salme

One of the most famous inhabitants of Zanzibar was Sayyida Salme. Beit el Mtoni is strongly connected with her story, since it is the place where she was born. Salme, one of the many daughters of Sultan Said, became world famous as Emily Ruete, the Arabian princess who fell in love with the German merchant Rudolph Heinrich Ruete.

The couple eloped to Hamburg, which meant that Salme had to say farewell to Zanzibar. In her beautiful book Memoirs of an Arabian Princess Salme, or Emily as she was called later after being baptized a Christian, wrote down her memories of the bristling Mtoni Palace during her youth, and the decay she encountered many years later, when she returned to Zanzibar one last time.

Mtoni Palace is one of the main Omani palaces of the island. A combined visit to Beit el Mtoni, Beit el Sahel (now the Palace Museum) Beit al-Ajaib (the House of Wonders) and Maruhubi Palace is highly recommended to acquire a complete image of the Omani history of Zanzibar.

Considering the high level of decay in some parts of the palace, restoration activities have taken place to warrant the safety of visitors. However, during these activities all original details have been safeguarded, so the authenticity of the palace has remained intact.

The Persian Baths as described by Princess Salme (From ‘Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar’ by Emily Reute)

The so-called “Persian” bath stood apart from the rest; it was really a Turkish bath, and there was no other in Zanzibar. Each bath-house contained two basins of about four yards by three, the water reaching to the breast of a grownup person.

This resort was highly popular with the residents of the palace, most of whom were in the habit of spending several hours a day there, saying their prayers, doing their work, reading, sleeping, or even eating and drinking.

From four o’clock in the morning until twelve at night there was constant movement; the stream of people coming and leaving never ceased.

Entering one of the bath-houses – they were all built on the same plan – you beheld two raised platforms, one at the right and one at the left, laid with finely woven matting, for praying or simply resting on. Anything in the way of luxury, such as a carpet, was forbidden here.

Whenever the Mahometan says his prayers he is supposed to put on a special garment, perfectly clean – white if possible – and used for no other purpose. Of course this rather exacting rule is obeyed only by the extremely pious.

Narrow colonnades ran between the platforms and the basins, which were uncovered except for the blue of heaven. Arched stone bridges and steps led to other, entirely separate apartments. Each bath-house had its own public; for, be it known, a severe system of caste ruled at Bet il Mtoni, rigidly observed by high and low.

Visiting the site

Because of safety reasons, the site can only be visited accompanied by a guide. Tickets can be bought at the site. Mtoni Palace is situated next to Mtoni Marine Centre. Toilets and refreshments are available there.

Concert & Dinner

The Concert & Dinner at Mtoni Palace, happens every Tuesday and Friday evening. The evening starts with a guided tour around the Palace, followed by a concert of traditional melodies and dances, whilst candles and incense are re-creating the magical atmosphere of 1001 Nights and during the interlude a grilled Zanzibarian buffet will delight the appetite.

Meet the Royal Burundi Drummers

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Burundi Royal Drummers

The Royal Drummers of Burundi, commonly known in recordings as The Drummers Of Burundi, is a percussion ensemble from Burundi. Their performances are a part of ceremonies such as births, funerals, and coronations of Omuami (Kings).

Drums (called karyenda) are sacred in Burundi, and represent the mwami, fertility and regeneration. The Royal Drummers use drums made from hollowed tree trunks covered with animal skins. In addition to the central drum, called Inkiranya, there are Amashako drums which provide a continuous beat, and Ibishikiso drums, which follow the rhythm established by the Inkiranya.

The performance of the Royal Drummers has been the same for centuries, and their techniques and traditions are passed down from father to son. The members of the ensemble take turns playing the Inkiranya, dancing, resting, and playing the other drums, rotating throughout the show without interruptions.

At the start of their performance, the drummers enter balancing the heavy drums on their heads and singing and playing. There are some extra members who carry ornamental spears and shields and lead the procession with their dance.

They then perform a series of rhythms, some accompanied by song, and exit the stage the same way, carrying the drums on their heads and playing.

Beginning in the 1960s, the Drummers have toured the world. They have recorded at least three albums – Batimbo (Musiques Et Chants) in 1991,The Drummers of Burundi (1992, recorded 1987) Real World (retitled Live at Real World in 1993) and The Master Drummers of Burundi (1981 lp, 1994 cd).

They have also appeared on Joni Mitchell’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975), on Zimbo, the B-side of the Echo & the Bunnymen 12″ single of The Cutter (1983), and the Def Leppard single “Rocket”.

They have influenced artists such as Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow, and inspired Thomas Brooman to organize the WOMAD festival in 1982, which shaped the burgeoning world music genre.

 

The Burundian drum is made from a piece of tree trunk, cut from certain forest species especially Imivugangoma , cordia-africana (which means trees that make drums speak). An adult ox’s or cow’s skin is stretched over this hollowed-out section of trunk and secured to the wood using wooden pegs. In general, the drum is played with sticks.

The term ingoma(drum) in Burundi has a very wide semantic field; it can refer to percussion drum, ritual drum, dynastic drum, power (royalty or otherwise), reign (or equivalent), government era, particular country (kingdom).

At the period of kingdom, nobody in Burundi could manufacture a drum or have a drum manufactured without a formal order from the king, who alone held the privilege of owning the drums and having them played for him.

 

History of Burundi drums

  • The sacred drums

Meaning of sacred drums
At the period of Kingdom (XVI – XVII s) drums in Burundi were much more than simple musical instruments.  As sacred objects, they were only played under exceptional circumstances and then always for ritual purposes including the coronations and kings’ funerals.

The sacred drums were myth of the country, the symbol of the sovereignty of the king.  They assured the protection of the country and kept rhythm with regular cycle of the seasons which ensured the prosperity of the livestock and maximum yield from the crops.

 

Names of Royal sacred drums and their specific roles
Karyenda: The drum assured the security of the country.  It was always hidden in the royal court.  During the conquest war, the kingdom was not conquered if the enemy didn’t arrive to capture this drum.

Hence whoever was in charge of watching on it had to oath for his fidelity, rather dying instead of handing it over or showing it to anybody, including the biological prince, and especially to the enemy of the country.

Karyenda was only brought from its sanctuary on very rare occasions particularly during the rites associated with umuganuro- celebration of the first fruits and of sowing the sorghum – which corresponded to the announcement of the beginning of agricultural season.

At this important event, the king himself beat the drum three times the eve of the ceremony giving a kick of to other drums.  Karyenda also had to announce the death of the king.
Rukinzo: Took part in the ceremony of the king going to bed and waking up and generally making out the rhythm of the life of the court.  Rukinzo also accompanied the king everywhere he went and was renewed with each change of reign.
Ruciteme: Assured the protection of livestock from kingdom court.
Murimirwa:  Assured the protection of the crops.
Nyabuhoro:  Stayed at the royal court to assure the peace of the country. f). Inajurwe and Inakigabiro:  These drums assured the protection of the country against calamities of all natures. They were the foundation of the nation. At the end of the kingdom, the sacred drums have been kept in historical place, but none could tell where Karyenda did go.

 

  • Simple drums

These drums were reserved for games and dances solely at the important events of the nation and in the presence of the king.  No other authority had this right. Nowadays, the drum remains an instrument that is both revered as popular reserved for national celebrations and for distinguished guests.

  • The drum sanctuaries

A tight network of mythical high places formed the political, religious and mythical framework of pre-colonial Burundi. Among these high places we can include the drum sanctuaries.

These were properties owned by the mainly Hutu lineages and they alone, with the king’s consent, held the privilege of manufacturing, playing and keeping drums and of bringing a certain number to the court on the occasion of the ritual of the umuganuro.

A sacred drum was enthroned in each sanctuary, surrounded by its attendants, the ingendanyi drums, and a set of drums that played for them. Four examples of sanctuaries: Gishora (hill), not far from Gitega: sacred drums kept there: ruciteme (for whom one clears brush) and murimirwa (for whom one ploughs); maintenance of sacred python in a nearby copse.

Lineage of Abanyakisaka drummers; the Higiro hill, also not far from Gitega: the sacred inakigabiro (lady of the land) drum. Lineage of the Abashaka drummers; Magamba hill: the lineage of the Abazimbura of this sanctuary was responsible for renewing the rukinzo drum with each change of reign.

  • Music of drums

Burundi drummers are representatives of Burundi folklore.  This ritual dance surprises and fascinates because it’s unique in the world to impose the drummers to follow the movement of the dancer.

The drummers use two sticks of 30 to 40 centimeters to beat the drum. Drums are placed on half circle of 12 to 25 following an ascendant order. One drum called Inkiranya, is placed at the middle, and is reserved to the leader of the dance.

Drums are divided in two parts based on their rhythms.  The first part of drums called Amashako provides a continuous beat and their drummers are known as Abakokezi.  The second part of drums called Ibishikizo follows the movement imposed by the dancer and the drummers are called Abavuzamurisho.

The latest observe the movement of the dancer, because the change of the rhythm is indicated by his/her gestures. The drummers take turns playing the inkiranya, dancing, resting and playing the other drums, rotating throughout the show without interruptions.

At the start of the performance, the drummers enter balancing the heavy drums on their heads and singing and playing.  There are some extra members who carry ornamental spears and shields and lead the procession with their dance.

The dancers perform a series of rhythms, some accompanied by a song.
The play of drummers is relevant to sound and gesture rhythm that fascinate generations with mixture of spectacular gravity and admirable fantasies.  The music expresses the popular and vital joy.

Explore the magic of East Africa

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Today many travelers like to discover more than one country in East Africa. With various tour itineraries that have been created, it is easier today to take a safari in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya Tanzania and Burundi on a safari across East Africa. You just need to decide, put on your jungle shoes and step out into the vast land of East Africa! on this safari, you will suddenly feel very, very small. And so you should. You’ve just joined one of the largest, wildest animal populations in the world. Wildebeests, gorillas, monkey, antelope, lion, cheetah, crocodile, gazelle, and flamingo – they are all out there.

What to Explore with in East Africa?

Kenya

This is a fantastic adventure destination which should not moss on your bucket list destination spots. This destination is a wealth for wildlife lovers; it combines the worlds’s most magnificent wildlife parks, unsullied beaches, thriving coral reefs, memorable mountain scapes and ancient Swahili cities. The Swahili word safari (literally, journey) wouldn’t mean much to most people if it wasn’t for this east African adventure land. No matter how many Tarzan movies you’ve seen, nothing will prepare you for the annual mass migration of wildebeest in the Masai Mara.

Uganda

Travelers are flocking to Uganda’s beautiful mountains, trekking opportunities and communities of mountain gorillas. A Uganda gorilla safari is one of the most memorable and unforgettable journey that you will take while on a safari across East Africa. From sightseeing to marveling at the Source of the Nile, gorilla trekking in the jungles of Bwindi to chimpanzee tracking and game viewing in natural non congested safari parks, much is awaiting you on this safari! To many travelers a gorilla safari beats all odds and is among the top 11 experiences to take while in Africa – offering a rare opportunity to meet, sit and photography the endangered mountain gorillas in the wild

Tanzania

Tanzania is one of the unique destinations on the African continent that has yet to be discovered by many. It is a land of many wonders hubbing an un-paralleled diversity of fauna and flora.

Zanzibar

Fantastic holiday spot because of her low in political profile and high in bliss-charged activities, the Zanzibar Archipelago is a mere hop, skip and a jump from the Tanzanian mainland. Its heady lure has tempted travelers, traders, slave traders and colonialists for centuries, and the archipelago continues to reflect this tumultuous past. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja) gets most of the headlines, but the archipelago also consists of lush Pemba to the north and numerous smaller islands and islets poised in luxuriously turquoise seas. There are countless unexplored pockets and loads of opportunities for flat-out hedonism.

Speke Monument

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Speke Monument

John Hanning Speke (4 May 1827 – 15 September 1864) was an officer in the British Indian Army who made three exploratory expeditions to Africa and who is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile and the discovery and naming of Lake Victoria.

Discovering the Source of the Nile proved to be a most tantalizing prospect for many Adventurers during the Victorian Age. It can only be compared with the modern day quest to put man on the moon in terms of the sheer fascination of the public with the subject.

Whoever would lay hold of this, the “Holy Grail” of British Exploratory zeal was sure to win for himself fame, wealth and nobility.Amongst those that set out for this prize were the religious like David Livingstone, the greedy like Stanly and those who saw a path to immortality like James Burton and John Hanning Speke.

Burton and Speke set of for a joint expedition which from its onset was fraught with mishaps and calamities and culminated in a bed-ridden Burton being left behind while a virtually blind John Hanning Speke proceeded to the southern shores of Lake Victoria.

The locals told of a vast river at the northen tip of the Lake Nalubaale (meaning “of the gods”), which Speke renamed Lake Victoria a tribute to his financial benefactors, the British Royal Family.Speke concluded that this must therefore be the Source of the Nile and returned to proclaim his discovery.

Burton however contended that Speke never actually saw the Nile, and suggested instead that Lake Tanganyika was the Source of River Nile.

It was Burton who was believed and knighted with the noble “Sir”.

The day Speke was to present evidence of his claim that it was Lake Nalubaale rather than Tanganyika that was the Source of River Nile he tragically shot himself while scaling a wall with his hunting rifle hanging at his side.

It was through analysis of his notes that the truth was finally established and a monument was erected on the western bank of the River Nile, which today is in Buikwe District modern day Uganda.

 

Life
Speke was born on 4 May 1827 at Orleigh Court, Buckland Brewer near Bideford, North Devon. In 1844 he was commissioned into the British army and posted to India, where he served under Sir Colin Campbell during the First Anglo-Sikh War.

He spent his leave exploring the Himalayan Mountains and Mount Everest and once crossed into Tibet.

In 1854 he made his first voyage to Africa, joining an expedition to Somalia led by the already famous Richard Burton. The expedition did not go well. The party was attacked and Burton and Speke were both severely wounded.

Speke was captured and stabbed several times with spears before he was able to free himself and escape. Burton escaped with a javelin impaling both cheeks. Speke returned to England to recover and then served in the Crimean War.

In 1856, Speke and Burton went to East Africa to find the Great Lakes, which were rumoured to exist in the centre of the continent. It was hoped that the expedition would locate the source of the Nile.

The journey was extremely strenuous and both men fell ill from a variety of tropical diseases. Speke suffered severely when he became temporarily deaf after a beetle crawled into his ear and he tried to remove it with a knife.

He also later went temporarily blind. After an arduous journey, the two became the first Europeans to reach Lake Tanganyika (although Speke was still blind at this point and could not properly see the lake).

They heard of a second lake in the area, but Burton was too sick to make the trip. Speke went alone and became the first European to visit Lake Victoria. It was this lake that eventually proved to be the source of the River Nile.

However, much of the expedition’s survey equipment had been lost at this point and thus vital questions about the height and extent of the lake could not be answered.

Speke returned to England before Burton, on 8 May 1859, and made their trip famous in a speech to the Royal Geographical Society, in which he claimed to have discovered the source of the Nile.

When Burton returned on 21 May, he was angered by Speke’s precipitous announcements, believing that they violated an agreement that the two men would speak to the society together.

A further rift was caused when Speke was chosen to lead a subsequent expedition instead of Burton. The two presented joint papers concerning the expedition to the Royal Geographical Society on 13 June 1859.

Together with James Augustus Grant, Speke left from Zanzibar in October 1860. When they reached Uganda, Grant travelled north and Speke continued his journey towards the west.

Speke reached Lake Victoria on 28 July 1862 and then travelled on the west side around Lake Victoria without actually seeing much of it; but on the north side of the lake, Speke found the Nile flowing out of it and discovered the Ripon Falls.

Speke then sailed down the Nile and he was reunited with Grant. Next he travelled to Gondokoro in Southern Sudan, where he met Samuel Baker and his wife, continuing to Khartoum, from which he sent a celebrated telegram to London: “The Nile is settled.”

Speke’s expedition did not resolve the issue, however. Burton claimed that because Speke had not followed the Nile from the place it flowed out of Lake Victoria to Gondokoro, he could not be sure they were the same.

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