They danced, they beat their 40 lb. drums and one drummer even feigned a moment of exhaustion to the laughter and joyful enthusiasm of more than 300 people who attended the first Burundi culture festival at Brick South, at Thompson’s Point.
The physical strength and stamina of these men are to be marveled at. Perhaps they replace athletic teams in this country because there are no similar men’s dance/drumming teams here. This is very much of a “national tradition” said Helen Weld, RN., who has worked in three African countries: Sierra Leone, Burundi and Rwanda. As a public health nurse, she helped set up hospitals in those countries. She now works at a hospice in Brunswick which can be “intense and very fulfilling.” Please visit her web page: firstname.lastname@example.org for photos of her life in Africa.
The Burundi Ladies from Maine danced gracefully in a manner to inspire many of the children who were in attendance with their families.
During a short break Mayor Ethan Strimling thanked everyone for working together to help assist the influx of immigrants now staying at the Portland Expo. “It’s so nice to live in a city that puts families together rather than in a place that puts kids in cages.” A roar of agreement erupted from the crowd. (Strimling has announced that he is running for re-election in November 2019).
“You can feel the rhythm in your heart and soul,” said Karen White, of South Portland.
Meanwhile, vendors from Burundi originally, sold products of their own creation to consumers looking for a souvenir from the evening. (See above photos).
Originally, this first Burundi Festival was to have been held at the Portland Expo on Park Avenue. But as we are aware, an influx of immigrants arrived here in Portland from Texas with little advance notice. Chris Thompson, co-owner of Thompson’s Point, offered the use of Brick South so the Festival could go forward as planned.
“I think they are brilliant,” said Chris Thompson, toward the end of the Festival. He had never seen them perform previously.
Dinah Minot, executive director of Creative Portland, produced the Festival. She was formerly a talent scout for “Saturday Night Live.”
Note: The Burundi Drummers will be performing on Sunday, June 30th, at Coffee by Design, on Diamond Street, between 10:00 am – 4:00 pm to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the coffee innovator.