Kingdom of Burundi

Last updated
Kingdom of Burundi
Royaume du Burundi (French)
Motto: Imana, Umwan, Uburundi
Dieu, le Roi et le Burundi
"God, the King and Burundi"
Anthem:  Burundi Bwacu (Our Burundi)
Territory of the Kingdom of Burundi in 1966.
StatusIndependent state (1680–1890)
Part of German East Africa (1890–1916)
Part of Ruanda-Urundi (1916–1962)
Independent state (1962–1966)
Capital Gitega
Common languages Kirundi, French
Government Monarchy
Ntare I (first)
Ntare V (last)
Prime Minister  
Joseph Cimpaye (first)
Michel Micombero (last)
Historical era Cold War
July 1, 1890
July 20, 1922
December 21, 1961
July 1, 1962
November 28 1966
ISO 3166 code BI
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Belgium.svg Ruanda-Urundi
Republic of Burundi Flag of Burundi.svg
Today part of Burundi

The Kingdom of Burundi (French : Royaume du Burundi) or Kingdom of Urundi (Royaume d'Urundi) was a Bantu kingdom in the modern-day Republic of Burundi. The Ganwa monarchs (with the title of mwami ) ruled over both Hutus and Tutsis. Created in the 17th century, the kingdom was preserved under European colonial rule in the late 19th and early 20th century and was an independent state between 1962 and 1966.



The date of the foundation of the Kingdom of Burundi is unknown but probably dates back to the 17th century when the Tutsi ethnic group gained dominance over the larger ethnic Hutu population of the region.[ dubious ][ citation needed ] Under mwami Ntare I (r. 1675–1705), the kingdom expanded and annexed a number of surrounding polities. [1] Although ruled by the mwami, the kingdom was extensively decentralised and local sub-rulers had wide independence. Before the arrival of European colonists, succession struggles were also common. [1]

In 1890, Burundi became part of the German colonial empire as part of German East Africa but was not effectively occupied or controlled by the colonial power. During World War I, Belgian troops from the neighbouring Belgian Congo invaded the region and occupied it. The Belgians were awarded Burundi, together with the neighbouring Kingdom of Rwanda, as an international mandate by the League of Nations. The Belgians, however, preserved many of the kingdom's institutions intact. [1]

Whereas the similar Rwandan monarchy was abolished in a revolution between 1959 and 1961, the Burundian monarchy succeeded in surviving into the post-colonial period. In 1962, the Kingdom of Burundi regained its independence as a constitutional monarchy in which the mwami held executive power and legislative power was given to the parliament. [2] By late 1963, the Burundian government allowed Congolese revolutionary Gaston Soumialot to recruit thousands of fighters along the Burundian-Congolese border. Soumialot and his troops consequently participated in the Simba rebellion. [3]

Ethnic violence between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority rose between 1963 and 1965 and culminated with a failed coup d'état against the monarchy of Mwambutsa IV in 1965. Mwambutsa's son, Ntare V, deposed his father in a July 1966 coup d'état, but was himself ousted from power in a November 1966 coup d'état by his Prime Minister, Michel Micombero, who abolished the monarchy. [2]



Most members of the royal house live in exile in France today. In the 2005 elections, Princess Esther Kamatari ran for president for the Party for the Restoration of Monarchy and Dialogue in Burundi (Abahuza). Supporters believe that a restoration of a constitutional monarchy could help to ease the country's ethnic tensions. [4]

The flag of the kingdom contained a karyenda in the center as a symbol of royal authority. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

National Defence Force (Burundi)

The BurundiNational Defence Force is the state military organisation responsible for the defence of Burundi.

History of Burundi Aspect of history

Burundi originated in the 16th century as a small kingdom in the African Great Lakes region. After European contact, it was united with the Kingdom of Rwanda, becoming the colony of Ruanda-Urundi - first colonised by Germany and then by Belgium. The colony gained independence in 1962, and split once again into Rwanda and Burundi. It is one of the few countries in Africa to be a direct territorial continuation of a pre-colonial era African state.

Human occupation of Rwanda is thought to have begun shortly after the last ice age. By the 11th century, the inhabitants had organized into a number of kingdoms. In the 19th century, Mwami (king) Rwabugiri of the Kingdom of Rwanda conducted a decades-long process of military conquest and administrative consolidation that resulted in the kingdom coming to control most of what is now Rwanda. The colonial powers, Germany and Belgium, allied with the Rwandan court.

Louis Rwagasore

Louis Rwagasore was a Burundian prince and politician who served as Prime Minister of Burundi from 28 September 1961 until his assassination on 13 October 1961. Born to the Ganwa family of Burundian Mwami Mwambutsa IV in Belgian-administered Ruanda-Urundi in 1932, Rwagasore was educated in Burundian Catholic schools before attending university in Belgium. After he returned to Burundi in the mid-1950s he founded a series of cooperatives to economically empower native Burundians and build up his base of political support. The Belgian administration took over the venture, and as a result of the affair his national profile increased and he became a leading figure of the anti-colonial activists. He soon thereafter became involved with a nationalist political party, the Union for National Progress (UPRONA). He pushed for Burundian independence from Belgian control, national unity, and the institution of a constitutional monarchy. Rwagosore sought to bring UPRONA mass appeal across different regions, ethnicities, and castes, and thus under his leadership the party maintained a leadership balanced between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis, though the latter were usually favoured for more important positions.

Michel Micombero First President of Burundi

Michel Micombero was a Burundian politician and army officer who ruled the country as its first president and dictator for the decade between 1966 and 1976.

Mwambutsa IV of Burundi 20th-century King of Burundi

Mwambutsa IV Bangiricenge was king (mwami) of Burundi who ruled between 1915 and 1966. He succeeded to the throne on the death of his father Mutaga IV Mbikije. Born while Burundi was under German colonial rule, Mwambutsa's reign mostly coincided with Belgian colonial rule (1916–62). The Belgians retained the monarchs of both Rwanda and Burundi under the policy of indirect rule.

Ruanda-Urundi 1922–1962 League of Nations/United Nations mandate in East Africa

Ruanda-Urundi was a colonial territory, once part of German East Africa, which was ruled by Belgium from 1916 to 1962.

Pierre Ngendandumwe was a Burundian politician. He was a member of the Union for National Progress and was an ethnic Hutu. On 18 June 1963, about a year after Burundi gained independence and amidst efforts to bring about political cooperation between Hutus and the dominant minority Tutsis, Ngendandumwe became Burundi's first Hutu prime minister. He served as prime minister until 6 April 1964 and then became prime minister again on 7 January 1965, serving until his death. Eight days after beginning his second term, he was assassinated by a Rwandan Tutsi refugee.

Outline of Burundi Overview of and topical guide to Burundi

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Burundi:

Burundi Country in the Great Rift Valley

Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley where the African Great Lakes region and East Africa converge. It is bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and southeast, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west; Lake Tanganyika lies along its southwestern border. The capital cities are Gitega and Bujumbura, which is also the largest city.

These are some of the articles related to Burundi on the English Wikipedia:

Ethnic groups in Burundi

Ethnic groups in Burundi include the three main indigenous groups of Hutu, Tutsi and Twa that have largely been emphasized in the study of the country's history due to their role in shaping it through conflict and consolidation. Burundi's ethnic make-up is similar to that of neighboring Rwanda. Additionally, recent immigration has also contributed to Burundi's ethnic diversity. Throughout the country's history, the relation between the ethnic groups has varied, largely depending on internal political, economic and social factors and also external factors such as colonialism. The pre-colonial era, despite having divisions between the three groups, saw greater ethnic cohesion and fluidity dependent on socioeconomic factors. During the colonial period under German and then Belgian rule, ethnic groups in Burundi experienced greater stratifications and solidification through biological arguments separating the groups and indirect colonial rule that increased group tensions. The post-independence Burundi has experienced recurring inter-ethnic violence especially in the political arena that has, in turn, spilled over to society at large leading to many casualties throughout the decades. The Arusha Agreement served to end the decades-long ethnic tensions, and the Burundian government has stated commitment to creating ethnic cohesion in the country since, yet recent waves of violence and controversies under the Pierre Nkurunziza leadership have worried some experts of potential resurfacing of ethnic violence. Given the changing nature of ethnicity and ethnic relations in the country, many scholars have approached the topic theoretically to come up with primordial, constructivist and mixed arguments or explanations on ethnicity in Burundi.

André Muhirwa was a Burundian politician as a member of the Union for National Progress and the third Prime Minister of Burundi from 19 October 1961 to 7 June 1963. His term coincided with Burundi's independence.

On 18–19 October 1965, a group of ethnic Hutu officers from the Burundian military and gendarmerie attempted to overthrow Burundi's government in a coup d'état. The rebels were frustrated with Burundi's monarch, Mwami Mwambutsa IV, who had repeatedly attempted to cement his control over the government and bypassed parliamentary norms despite Hutu electoral gains. Although the prime minister was shot and wounded, the coup failed due to the intervention of a contingent of troops led by Captain Michel Micombero. The attempted putsch provoked a backlash against Hutus in which thousands of people, including the participants in the coup, were killed. The coup also facilitated a militant Tutsi backlash against the monarchy resulting in two further coups which culminated in the abolition of the monarchy in November 1966 and the proclamation of a republic with Micombero as President of Burundi.

November 1966 Burundian coup détat

On 28 November 1966, Michel Micombero, Burundi's 26-year-old Prime Minister, ousted the 19-year-old king (mwami) of Burundi, Ntare V, in a coup d'état. Ntare was out of the country at the time and the coup leaders quickly succeeded in taking control. Micombero declared an end to the monarchy and the Kingdom of Burundi became a republic with Micombero as its first President.

July 1966 Burundian coup détat

On 8 July 1966, a coup d'état took place in the Kingdom of Burundi. The second in Burundi's post-independence history, the coup ousted the government loyal to the king (mwami) of Burundi, Mwambutsa IV, who had gone into exile in October 1965 after the failure of an earlier coup d'état.

Artémon Simbananiye is a Burundian retired politician.

Gervais Nyangoma was a Burundian politician and diplomat.

The coup of Gitarama was a 1961 event in which the monarchy in Rwanda, then a part of the Belgian mandate of Ruanda-Urundi, was abolished and replaced with a republican political system.


  1. 1 2 3 "Kingdom of Burundi". Encyclopædia Britannica (Online ed.). Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  2. 1 2 "Burundi: Fall of the Monarchy (1962 - 1966)". African Democracy Encyclopaedia Project. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  3. Villafana (2017), p. 71.
  4. "Pro-monarchy party gets green light in Burundi". Panapress. 21 September 2004. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  5. Guide to the Flags of the World by Mauro Talocci, revised and updated by Whitney Smith ( ISBN   0-688-01141-1), p. 153.

Works cited

Further reading