Kingdom of Burundi

Kingdom of Burundi was an African kingdom located in present day Burundi, founded during the 1600s. The kingdom was ruled by a Tutsi elite and Hutu common class.



The founder of the Burundi Kingdom was Tutsi Ntari Rushatsi (c. 1657-1705). Ntari engaged in acts of expansion by integrating other Tutsi polities into his kingdom. Mwami Ntare Rugaamba (c. 1795-1852) expanded the territory by engaging in more aggressive tactics of diplomacy.


Tutsi and Hutu status was a flexible designation, not a rigid ethnic designation as it became later. A Hutu who gained wealth by owning cattle could become a Tutsi. A Tutsi who experience hard times and experience great cattle loss could become a Hutu. The kingdom was stratified into hierarchies. The Tutsi hierarchies included the Ganwa at the top, next the Banyaruguru, and then the Hima. The line of descent was patrilineal. The Ganwa was assigned a province, as representative of the mwami. The mwami was more of a spiritual figure than political. Individual Ganwa  representative did not completely control the Hutus. Laws were determined by abanyarurimbi, who controlled the courts. Abashingantache arbitrated local disputes and were typically elder Hutu men.

Work Cited

Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.(1999). Africana: the Encyclopedia of African and African American Experience. Basic Civitas Books, pp. 339-340. ISBN 0-465-00071-1.

Collins, Robert O. and Burns, James M. (2007). A History of Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 124 ISBN 978-0-521-68708-9.