Flag of the Kingdom of Burundi. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The kingdom of Burundi dates back to the late sixteenth century, significantly later than many of its neighbours. Already inhabited by the Bantu from the eleventh century, a small number of kingdoms were founded after migration to the area, and as such it is uncertain which ethnicity the first king, Ntare I, was. The royal clan became separate from the Hutus and Tutsis, developing the Ganwa tribe, and expanded the kingdom successfully. After the reign of Ntare IV in the late nineteenth century Burundi became split between his sons, weakening the kingdom. In 1858 European explorers reached the region, and was later assigned to Germany though it was not effectively occupied. After World War One Belgium gained control of the area, and though it preserved the monarchical institutions it deposed the chiefs and increased ethnic tensions. Monarchy initially survived the post-colonial period, transforming into a constitutional monarchy in 1962. However, political and ethnic tensions saw a coup and deposition of the king Mwambutsa IV, and the ousting of his successor, Ntare V, in 1966, after which the monarchy was abolished.

You can find more about one of Burundi’s queens, Mwamikazi Nidi Ririkumutima Bizama hitanzimiza Mwezi, below!


Gates, Henry Louis, Emmanuel Akyeampong, and Steven J. Niven, eds. Dictionary of African Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011

Newbury, David. “Precolonial Burundi and Rwanda: Local Loyalties, Regional Royalties.” The International Journal of African Historical Studies 34.2 (2001): 255-314

Newbury, David. The Land beyond the Mists: Essays on Identity and Authority in Precolonial Congo and Rwanda. Norman: Ohio University Press, 2009.

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