Kirundi,[5][6] also known as Rundi,[2][7][8][9] is a Bantu language spoken by 9 million people in Burundi and adjacent parts of Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as in Uganda. It is the official language of Burundi. Kirundi is mutually intelligible with Kinyarwanda, an official language of Rwanda, and the two form part of the wider dialect continuum known as Rwanda-Rundi.[10]

Kirundi is natively spoken by the Hutu, including Bakiga and other related ethnicities, as well as Tutsi, Twa and Hima among others have adopted the language. Neighbouring dialects of Kirundi are mutually intelligible with Ha, a language spoken in western Tanzania.

Kirundi is one of the languages where Meeussen's rule, a rule describing a certain pattern of tonal change in Bantu languages, is active.

Bicycles in Burundi
The Kirundi text on the back of the truck warns cyclists not to hold on to it.
Native toBurundi
EthnicityHutu, Tutsi, and Twa
Native speakers
8.8 million (2007)[1]
Official status
Official language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1rn Rundi
ISO 639-2run Rundi
ISO 639-3run Rundi
Glottologrund1242  Rundi[2]
rund1241  Rundi-Kitwa[3]



Although the literature on Rundi agrees on 5 vowels, the number of consonants can vary anywhere from 19 to 26 consonants.[11] The table below is compiled from a survey of academic acceptance of Rundi consonants.[12]

Labial Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɟ g
Affricate p͡f t͡s t͡ʃ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ h
voiced v z ʒ
Approximant j w
Flap ɾ
Trill r


The table below gives the vowel sounds of Rundi.

Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a

All five vowels occur in long and short forms. The distinction is phonemic.[13]


Rundi is a tonal language. There are two essential tones in Rundi : high and low (or H and L). Since Rundi has phonemic distinction on vowel length, when a long vowel changes from a low tone to a high tone it is marked as a rising tone. When a long vowel changes from a high tone to a low tone, it is marked as a falling tone.[14]

Rundi is often used in phonology to illustrate examples of Meeussen's rule[15][16] In addition, it has been proposed that tones can shift by a metrical or rhythmic structure. Some authors have expanded these more complex features of the tonal system noting that such properties are highly unusual for a tone system.[17]


Syllable structure in Rundi is considered to be CV, that is having no clusters, no coda consonants, and no complex vowel nuclei. It has been proposed that sequences that are CVV in the surface realization are actually CV in the underlying deep structure, with the consonant coalescing with the first vowel.[18]

Consonant harmony

Rundi has been shown to have properties of consonant harmony particularly when it comes to sibilants. Meeussen described this harmony in his essay and it is investigated further by others.[19] One example of this harmony is triggered by /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ and targets the set of /s/ and /z/ in preceding adjacent stem syllables.

Sample phrases

Example translations
Mwaramutse Hi/Good Morning
Mwiriwe Good evening
Ijoro ryiza Good night
Bite? What's Up?
Uravuga icongereza? Do you speak English?
Ego Yes
Oya No
Witwa gute? What is your name?
Jewe nitwa My name is
Woshobora kumfasha? Can you help me?
Ingezi Tourist
Amahera Money
Ikirundi n'ikinyarwanda bisa nk'igi czek n'igi slovak Rundi and Rwanda are closely related like Czech and Slovak.
Amazi Water
Amata Milk
Inzoga Alcoholic beverage
Ejo Yesterday
Eejo° Tomorrow
Nzoza ejo/Nzoz'ejo I will come tomorrow
Ubu Now
Igihugu Country
Faransa/Ubufaransa France
Ngereza/Ubwongereza England
Leta zunz'ubumwe z'amerika United States of America
Ubudagi Germany
Ububirigi Belgium
°N.B. eejo is pronounced the same as ejo:
the other e is written for differentiation.


  1. ^ Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin
  2. ^ a b Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Rundi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Rundi-Kitwa". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  5. ^ "Kirundi". Oxford Dictionaries, British & World English. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  6. ^ "Kirundi". American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  7. ^ Simons, Gary F. and Charles D. Fennig, eds. (2017). "Rundi". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (20th ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Retrieved 2017-07-05.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Rundi". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  9. ^ "Rundi". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  10. ^ Ethnologue, 15th ed.
  11. ^ Zorc and Nibagwire 2007, p. 23.
  12. ^ Zorc and Nibagwire 2007, p. 25.
  13. ^ Meeussen 1959
  14. ^ de Samie 2009
  15. ^ Myers 1987
  16. ^ Phillipson 2003
  17. ^ Goldsmith & Sabimana 1989
  18. ^ Sagey 1986
  19. ^ Ntihirageza 1993


  • Broselow, E. & Niyondagara, A. (1990) "Feature geometry of Kirundi palatalization". Studies in the Linguistic Sciences 20: 71-88.
  • de Samie. (2009) Dictionnaire Francais-Kirundi. L'Harmattan. Paris.
  • Goldsmith, J. & Sabimana, F. (1989) The Kirundi Verb. Modèles en tonologie. Editions du CNRS. Paris.
  • Meeussen, A.E. (1959) Essai de grammaire Rundi. Annales du Musée Royal du Congo Belge, Série Sciences Humaines – Linguistique, vol. 24. Tervuren.
  • Myers, S. (1987) Tone and the structure of words in Shona. PhD dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Garland Press. New York.
  • Ntihirageza, J. (1993) Kirundi Palatization and Sibilant Harmony : Implications for Feature Geometry. Master thesis, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois.
  • Philippson, G. (2003) Tone reduction vs. metrical attraction in the evolution of Eastern Bantu tone systems. INALCO. Paris.
  • Sagey, E. (1986) The Representation of Features and Relations in Non-Linear Phonology. Doctoral dissertation, MIT, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Zorc, R. D. & Nibagwire, L. (2007) Kinyarwanda and Kirundi Comparative Grammar. Dunwoody Press. Hyattsville.

External links


Burundi ( (listen), ), officially the Republic of Burundi (Kirundi: Republika y'Uburundi, [buˈɾundi]; French: République du Burundi, [buʁundi] or [byʁyndi]), is a landlocked country amid the African Great Lakes region where East and Central 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 is Gitega, having moved from Bujumbura in February 2019.The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least 500 years. For more than 200 of those years, Burundi was an independent kingdom, until the beginning of the 20th century, when Germany colonised the region. After the First World War and Germany's defeat, it ceded the territory to Belgium. Both Germans and Belgians ruled Burundi and Rwanda as a European colony known as Ruanda-Urundi. Despite common misconceptions, Burundi and Rwanda had never been under common rule until the time of European colonisation.

Burundi gained independence in 1962 and initially had a monarchy, but a series of assassinations, coups and a general climate of regional instability culminated in the establishment of a republic and one-party state in 1966. Bouts of ethnic cleansing and ultimately two civil wars and genocides during the 1970s and again in the 1990s left the country undeveloped and its population as one of the world's poorest.

The presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, both Hutus, died together when their aeroplane was shot down in April 1994. 2015 witnessed large-scale political strife as President Pierre Nkurunziza opted to run for a third term in office, a coup attempt failed and the country's parliamentary and presidential elections were broadly criticised by members of the international community.

The sovereign state of Burundi political system is that of a presidential representative democratic republic based upon a multi-party state. The President of Burundi is the head of state and head of government. There are currently 21 registered parties in Burundi. On 13 March 1992, Tutsi coup leader Pierre Buyoya established a constitution, which provided for a multi-party political process and reflected multi-party competition. Six years later, on 6 June 1998, the constitution was changed, broadening National Assembly's seats and making provisions for two vice-presidents. Because of the Arusha Accord, Burundi enacted a transitional government in 2000. In October 2016, Burundi informed the UN of its intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.Burundi remains an overwhelmingly rural society, with just 13% of the population living in urban areas in 2013. The population density of around 315 people per square kilometre (753 per sq mi) is the second highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly 85% of the population are of Hutu ethnic origin, 15% are Tutsi, and fewer than 1% are indigenous Twa. The official languages of Burundi are Kirundi, French and English, Kirundi being recognised officially as the sole national language.One of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi has an equatorial climate. Burundi is a part of the Albertine Rift, the western extension of the East African Rift. The country lies on a rolling plateau in the centre of Africa. The highest peak, Mount Heha at 2,685 m (8,810 ft), lies to the southeast of the largest city, Bujumbura. The most distant source of the River Nile is the Ruvyironza River in the Bururi Province of Burundi, the Nile is linked from Lake Victoria to its headwaters via the Kagera River to the Ruvyironza River. Another major lake is Lake Tanganyika, located in much of Burundi's southwestern corner. There are two national parks, Kibira National Park to the northwest (a small region of rain forest, adjacent to Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda), and Ruvubu National Park to the northeast (along the Rurubu River, also known as Ruvubu or Ruvuvu). Both were established in 1982 to conserve wildlife populations. Burundi's lands are mostly agricultural or pasture.

Settlement by rural populations has led to deforestation, soil erosion and habitat loss. Deforestation of the entire country is almost completely due to overpopulation, with a mere 600 km2 (230 sq mi) remaining and an ongoing loss of about 9% per annum. In addition to poverty, Burundians often have to deal with corruption, weak infrastructure, poor access to health and education services, and hunger. Burundi is densely populated and has had substantial emigration as young people seek opportunities elsewhere. The World Happiness Report 2018 ranked Burundi as the world's least happy nation with a rank of 156.

Burundi Bwacu

Burundi Bwacu (Our Burundi) is the national anthem of Burundi. Written in the Kirundi language by a group of writers led by Jean-Baptiste Ntahokaja, a Catholic priest, and composed by Marc Barengayabo, it was adopted upon independence in 1962.

Burundi National Radio and Television

La Radiodiffusion-Télévision Nationale du Burundi (RTNB) (Burundi National Radio and Television) is the national broadcaster of the Central African state of Burundi. Burundi National Radio and Television currently broadcasts in Kirundi, French and Swahili and English.

Burundi Workers' Party

Burundi Workers' Party or UBU (French: Parti des travailleurs du Burundi; Kirundi: Umugambwe wa'Bakozi Uburundi) was a clandestine communist party in Burundi. Its primary constituency was the large Burundian refugee population situated in neighboring Rwanda. Founded in August 1979, one of its most prominent leaders was the ethnic Hutu intellectual Melchior Ndadaye, who became the first democratically elected president of Burundi in 1993.

When UBU was disbanded, followers of Ndadaye regrouped into the Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODÉBU).

Burundi national football team

The Burundi national football team nicknamed "The Swallows" (French: Les Hirondelles)(Kirundi: Intamba m'Urugamba), is the national team of Burundi and is controlled by the Football Federation of Burundi. The team has never qualified for the World Cup. Burundi previously did come very close to qualifying for the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, losing only on penalties to Guinea in a playoff. However, in 2019, it qualified for the very first time, and took part in the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Group B, but lost all its matches and left from the group stage without scoring a single goal.

Demographics of Burundi

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Burundi, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

At 206.1 persons per km²., Burundi has the second-largest population density in Sub-Saharan Africa. Most people live on farms near areas of fertile volcanic soil. The population is made up of three major ethnic groups – Hutu (Bahutu), Tutsi (Batutsi or Watusi), and Twa (Batwa). Kirundi is the common language. Intermarriage takes place frequently between the Hutus and Tutsis. The terms "pastoralist" and "agriculturist", often used as ethnic designations for Watusi and Bahutu, respectively, are only occupational titles which vary among individuals and groups. Although Hutus encompass the majority of the population, historically Tutsis have been politically and economically dominant.

Ha language

Ha, also known with the Bantu language prefix as Giha, Ikiha, or Kiha, is a Bantu language spoken by the Ha people of the Kigoma Region of Tanzania, spoken on the eastern side of Lake Tanganyika up to the headwaters of the Mikonga. It is closely related to the languages of Rwanda and Burundi; neighboring dialects are reported to be mutually intelligible with Kirundi.

Ha people

The Ha, also called Waha (singular Muha) or Abaha, are an ethnic and linguistic group found in Kigoma Region in northwestern Tanzania bordering the Lake Tanganyika. In 2001, the Ha population was estimated to number between 1 and 1.5 million, making them one of the large ethnic groups in ethnically diverse Tanzania.Their language is a Bantu language, and is called the Ha language, also called Kiha, Ikiha or Giha. It is closely related to the Kirundi and Kinyarwanda spoken in neighbouring Burundi and Rwanda, and belongs to the Niger-Congo family of languages.

Hans (name)

Hans is a masculine given name. In German, Danish, Dutch, Faroese, Norwegian, Icelandic and Swedish, it was originally short for Hanselot but is now also recognized as a name in its own right for official purposes.

The earliest documented usage was in 1356 in Sweden, 1360 in Norway, and the 14th century in Denmark."Hansel" (German: Hänsel) is a variant, meaning "little Hans". Another variant with the same meaning is Hänschen, found in the German proverb "Was Hänschen nicht lernt, lernt Hans nimmermehr", which translates roughly as: "What Hansel doesn't learn, Hans will never learn".

Other variants include: Han, Hawns, Hanns, Hannes, Hanse, Hansi (also female), Hansele, Hansal, Hensal, Hanserl, Hännschen, Hennes, Hännes, Hänneschen, Henning, Henner, Honsa, Johan, Johann, Jan, Jannes, Jo, Joha, Hanselmann, Hansje.

Independents of Hope

Independents of Hope (Kirundi: Abigenga-Mizero y'Abarundi; French: Indépendants de l'Espoir) is a political alliance in Burundi.

Kemény K-02

The Kemény K-02 Szellő (Breeze) was a Hungarian training glider from the late 1940s. It was originally designed for a national contest to build a primary trainer but when this was won by the Rubik R-16 Lepke it was resigned to have more advanced soaring capability which could take pilots to their Silver C badge. Ninety were produced.

Khadja Nin

Khadja Nin (born 27 June 1959) is a Burundian singer and musician.

Nin was born in Burundi, the youngest of a family of eight. Her father was a diplomat. She studied music at an early age like most of her brothers and sisters. With her exceptional singing voice, at the age of seven she became one of the lead vocalists in the Bujumbura choir and performed in the local cathedral. She left Burundi for Zaire in 1975 and married in 1978. In 1980 she emigrated to Belgium with her two-year-old son. In 1985 she obtained a contract with BMG. Her second album, a 1994 release entitled Ya Pili, was critically acclaimed.

Her breakthrough came in 1996 with her widely popular album Sambolera, which was sung in Swahili, Kirundi, and French. In 1997 she performed the song "Sailing" in a duet with Montserrat Caballé on the album Friends For Life. She successfully used a blend between African rhythms and modern pop to create her own unique brand of music. One of her most popular songs is Sina Mali, Sina Deni, a translated cover version of Stevie Wonder's song Free.


The first album was released in 1992, sung in Swahili. But it is best known in France in 1995 with the tube Sambolera mali sound, a title of the second album, Ya Pili (The second) 1.3. The third album is a compilation of old and new titles1. Jeanne Moreau makes the clip illustrating her song Mama, where she talks about her mother, on her fourth album Ya ... 4. The texts of this album are in Swahili or Kirundi (for the chorus of the title Mama). The album also includes a cover of a piece by Gabonese musician Pierre Akendengué, Africa Obota, and a title of Stevie Wonder, Free that she renamed Sina mali, sina deni (I am neither rich nor indebted). Another piece pays tribute to Nelson Mandela, and a song calls for easing the embargo imposed on Burundi1.

In January 2000, she sang at Palais Omnisports of Paris-Bercy with Sting and Cheb Mami5,6. She remarries in 2006 with the Belgian car driver Jacky Ickx1,3, and they settle in Monaco. His only son, Vincent Christoffel, is married and lives in Belgium.

In 2018, she is a jury member at the Cannes Film Festival, under the presidency of Cate Blanchett, alongside actresses Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart, director Ava DuVernay, actor Chang Chen and directors Robert Guédiguian, Denis Villeneuve and Andrei Zvyagintsev


Kinyarwanda (IPA: [iciɲɑɾɡwɑːndɑ]), known as Urufumbira in Kisoro, Uganda, is an official language of Rwanda and a dialect of the Rwanda-Rundi language spoken by at least 12 million people in Rwanda, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and adjacent parts of southern Uganda (the mutually intelligible Kirundi dialect is the official language of neighbouring Burundi). Kinyabwisha and Kinyamulenge are the mutually intelligible dialects spoken in North Kivu and South Kivu provinces of neighbouring DR Congo.

Kinyarwanda is one of the four official languages of Rwanda (along with English, French and Kiswahili) and is spoken by almost all of the native population. That contrasts with most modern African states, whose borders were drawn by colonial powers and do not correspond to ethnic boundaries or precolonial kingdoms.

Languages of Burundi

Since 2014 Burundi has three official languages: Kirundi, French and English. By the same law on languages promulgated in 2014 Kiswahili is mentioned as a fourth language spoken and taught in the country. Of these, only Kirundi is spoken by the vast majority of the population. It is recognised as the national language by the Burundian constitution of 2005. French is spoken by a significant minority and is spoken mainly as a second language or by foreign residents of the country.

Burundi is unusual among African states in having a single indigenous language shared by its entire population. In one estimate, 98 percent of Burundians speak Kirundi. Under Belgian colonial rule (1919–62), Kirundi was taught whereas under German rule (1894–1916) Swahili had been encouraged. In recent years, the Burundian government has promoted the use of Kirundi language as way to unify the country's different ethnic groups.The country is considered part of Francophonie. As a legacy of Belgian colonial rule, French has an important role in government, business, and the educated classes but only between 3 and 10 percent of the population speak the language fluently. Burundian vernacular French also frequently incorporates loanwords from Kirundi, Lingala and other languages.Spoken languages in Burundi include Swahili which is widely spoken in the African Great Lakes region. It is especially used in commerce and in connection with the country's Muslim minority or with immigration from elsewhere in East Africa.

List of Wikipedias

This is the list of the different language editions of Wikipedia; as of July 2019, there are 304 languages into which Wikipedia has been translated, with 294 active and 10 having been closed.

List of languages by the number of countries in which they are recognized as an official language

This is a ranking of languages by number of sovereign countries in which they are de jure or de facto official.

Other several languages are officially used in 2-3 countries, these are:

Aymara - Peru & Bolivia

Bengali - Bangladesh & India

Berber - Algeria & Morocco

Greek - Greece & Cyprus

Guarani - Bolivia & Paraguay

Hausa - Niger & Nigeria

Korean - North Korea & South Korea

Romanian - Romania & Moldova

Rwanda-Rundi - Burundi (known as Kirundi) & Rwanda (known as Kinyarwanda)

Sotho - South Africa, Lesotho & Zimbabwe

Swati - South Africa & Eswatini (Swaziland)

Swedish - Sweden & Finland

Tswana - South Africa & Botswana

Turkish - Turkey & CyprusIsiZuli - South Africa

Sepedi - South Africa

National Museum of Gitega

The National Museum of Gitega (French: Musée National de Gitega, Kirundi: Iratiro ry'akaranga k'Uburundi) is the national museum of Burundi. It is located in Gitega and was founded under Belgian colonial rule in 1955. The museum is the largest of Burundi's public museums although its collection is displayed in a single room. In 2014, it averaged 20–50 visitors per week.Founded by the Belgian rulers of Burundi in 1955, the museum was intended to preserve artefacts from Burundian folk culture which were declining as a result of modernisation and social change. The museum's collection includes ethnographic and historical objects originating in the country, including artefacts from the court of the Burundian monarchs. The lack of funds has meant that the museum has made few recent acquisitions.In 2015, a catalogue of the museum's collection was published with the support of the German Embassy in Burundi entitled Le Patrimoine Burundais: le Musée de Gitega.

Rurubu River

The Ruvubu River (also spelt Rurubu and Ruvuvu) is a river in central Africa whose waters gather from the most distant, southern portion of the Nile basin. It is about 300 km long. It rises in the north of Burundi, near the town of Kayanza and then does a southward arc through Burundi, being joined by the Ruvyironza River near Gitega. From there it runs northeast, through the Ruvubu National Park, up to the Tanzanian border. After a stretch along the border, the Ruvubu crosses properly into Tanzania, before joining the Nyabarongo River on the Tanzania–Rwanda border near Rusumo Falls, to form the Kagera River.

The Ruvubu gets its name from the Kirundi word for hippopatamus, imvubu, because the river is home to a large population of hippos.


Rwanda-Rundi (Ruanda-Rundi) is a group of Bantu languages, specifically a dialect continuum, spoken in Central Africa. Neighboring dialects are mutually intelligible, but more distant ones may not be. Two dialects, Kirundi and Kinyarwanda, have been standardized as official languages of Burundi and Rwanda respectively. The other dialects are spoken in DR Congo (Kinyabwisha in North Kivu, Kinyamulenge in South Kivu), Uganda (Rufumbira spoken by the Bafumbira in Kisoro District), and Tanzania; Ha, with one million speakers, is the most widely spoken.

Official languages
Non-official languages
Sign languages
Official language
National languages
(by province)
Sign languages
Official languages


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.