Burundian musician Kidum Kibido (real name Jean-Pierre Nimbona) said he received death threats via social media in advance of returning home for a performance in capital Bujumbura that took place on 3 September 2016, reported The Rwanda Focus on 16 August 2016.
The musician, who fled Burundi in 1995 due to political instability and made Kenya his new home, said he began receiving threats once the concert was announced from anonymous people, who called themselves Burundian politicians, saying they would kill him if he returned.
Kidum responded to the anonymous threats with a Facebook statement that read in part:
You, who have such an evil plan to kill me, using fake identity of people from Burundian opposition, just keep your mind on killing me because I am not afraid of coming to my home country. So be standby to accomplish your plan as I will be landing in Bujumbura on September 1st, 2016. I would be lucky to rest my soul in my country.
Kidum was invited back to Burundi by the Kenyan ambassador to Burundi to perform as part of a trade fair expo between the two countries. During his trip, Kidum had to increase his security, which some have criticised, due to the unstable political and security situation in the country, reported The East African on 6 September 2016.
“We cannot say that the security is very good, but life is getting back to normal. Some people are not happy that I have come to the country but others are happy,” Kidum told the newspaper.
Difficult environment for artists
Burundi has been embroiled in political turmoil since April 2015, which has severely limited the possibilities for open and free artistic expression or political speech. The threats to Kidum are yet another example of a growing dangerous trend in a country rocked by violence that has silenced artists or caused them to flee.
In 2015 Freemuse documented 10 cases of artists being threatened, attacked and persecuted, a drastic difference from 2014 where the organisation did not document any cases of violations of artistic expressions in the country.
In 2016 the troubling trend continues with even harsher violations. Just at the beginning of the new year musician Pascal Treasury Nshimirimana was arrested and shot dead by police. Circumstances around the case are still unknown.
Months later another musician, Cedric Bangirinama (Bangy), was detained on charges that he allegedly insulted a head of state, and in a separate incident, comedian Alfred Aubin Mugenzi (Kigingi) was detained for allegedly making fun of the Burundian president.
» UPDATE: Read an interview with Kidum to IWACU English News from 9 September 2016 about his trip to Burundi:
Kidumu: “I am here for peace, nothing else!”
» For more on the situation in Burundi read the following Freemuse INSIGHT story:
Burundi: Musicians menaced, silenced and fleeing the country
Photo: Artist Facebook page
» The East African – 6 September 2016:
Kidum’s visit to Burundi takes on political tone
» The New Times – 19 August 2016:
Singer Kidum in death threat
» The Rwanda Focus – 16 August 2016:
I will be lucky to rest my soul in my country – Kidum speaks out on fear of being killed
More from Freemuse
» 18 May 2016: Art Under Threat: Attacks on artistic freedom in 2015
» 4 April 2016: Burundi: Comedian detained for making fun of president
» 10 March 2016: Burundi: Musician detained for insulting head of state
» 5 January 2016: Burundi: Musician shot by police
» 28 September 2015: Burundi: Musicians menaced, silenced and fleeing the country