In conversation with Shabani Ramadhani

The Burundian festival director Shabani Ramadhani visited Stuttgart in November.

In conversation with Burundian musician and festival director Shabani Ramadhani, we learned more about the Marahaba Music Expo and the importance of culture for collaboration.

SEZ: AMAHORO Shabani, can you briefly introduce yourself?

Shabani Rhamadani: I am Shabani Ramadhani, a passionate artist and activist fighting for health rights. My goal is to encourage youth after the war. I have participated and performed in various musical projects and festivals in different countries. Because of my musical abilities, I was also a music teacher at Marahaba Art Center (MAC). I am also the founder of Marahaba Music Expo.

SEZ: What is Marahaba Music Expo and what was your motivation for starting Marahaba? What does Marahaba mean?

Shabani Rhamadani: Marahaba is Swahili and means “well done” or “hurrah”. The Marahaba Music Expo is a non-profit organization based in Bujumbura, Burundi. She is committed to educating the public, sharing innovations, and fostering collaboration through music and art. It was founded in 2018 to give hope to the youth. The organization's vision is a peaceful and vibrant Burundi. Their mission is to create innovation and creativity for a happy country. Our organization works in these areas:

  • its Music festival: This international music forum takes place every two years. It aims to promote dialogue between artists from Africa and other parts of the world. The Expo includes workshop programs, discussions, lectures and stage performances. Since its inception, five festivals have taken place, bringing about an artistic revolution in the music and creative industries in Burundi. More than 5000 local artists have benefited from the founding of this respected organization.
  • Education: Our organization runs the Marahaba Arts Center, where young women and men in Bujumbura can learn more about art, creativity and music. Our goal is to reduce the number of young people on the streets by giving them good training and a good sense of entrepreneurship. To this end, the Marahaba Center runs various programs that strengthen the skills of young women and men and teach them how they can become entrepreneurs through art and music.
  • Entrepreneurship for female artists: Our organization has supported female artists by giving them the opportunity to participate in artistic and social activities. Because the artists advocate for gender equality, they inspire other women.

SEZ: You were in Germany in mid-November: What was the occasion and how was your experience?

Shabani Rhamadani: I'm in favor of the film premiere of the short documentary "Facing new realities – How climate change is affecting the heart of Africa“, which took place in Stuttgart on November 9th. It was a very good experience for me as it was my first time in this city. During my visit I had the opportunity to meet various actors in Stuttgart's cultural sector.

SEZ: How can culture and music help bring people together, especially people from Baden-Württemberg and Burundi?

Shabani Rhamadani: Culture and music are a good way to bring people together and improve cooperation between Baden-Württemberg and Burundi. Because music and culture bring peace for everyone. They can also help convey various messages, such as climate protection or strengthening the engagement of young people.

SEZ: How can people follow and support your work?

Shabani Rhamadani: Any person, institution or organization is welcome to contact and collaborate with us. Anyone interested in supporting our work can reach us via the following channels:, or my phone number +25768475873.

SEZ: What are your wishes for the future?

Shabani Rhamadani: Our wish is to continue the cooperation between the city of Stuttgart and Burundi. We can achieve a lot through culture and music. It is also valuable when experiences are shared through exchange and collaboration between artists and festivals from both regions.


Partnership work by AMAHORO! Country partnership between BW & Burundi


Commitment against violence against women*

Agathonique Rurakukuza, AFJO, told us about efforts to eradicate sexual harassment in the media.


The International Day Against Violence Against Women* is celebrated on November 25th every year. The goal: the elimination of gender-based violence. On the occasion of this important day, the SEZ entered into discussions with the Association des Femmes Journalistes du Burundi (AFJO).

In the midst of Burundi's media landscape, AFJO actively campaigns against sexual harassment, which continues to affect many female journalists in Burundi. The results of a survey of 2022 journalists conducted by AFJO in November 120 are shocking: 84,1% of those surveyed were identified as victims of sexual harassment. Reality shows that sexual harassment knows no boundaries and occurs in various areas of life - be it in the professional environment of the media, on public transport, in social networks or even within the family. The survey also found that 42,9% of those affected were men, while 14,3% said they were harassed by women.

Addressing this problem faces numerous challenges. In the interview, Agathonique Rurakukuza, project officer for media, peace and gender at AFJO, told us that sexual harassment is a taboo topic in Burundi. Those affected do not dare to speak publicly and report the perpetrators. The consequences of publicly denouncing can include job loss and stigmatization. The oppression of those affected by the perpetrator and the taboo nature of sexual topics also lead to silence in Burundian society. The consequences for those affected are both psychosocial and financial and range from depression to giving up their job. As a result, those affected feel uncomfortable in their work and neglect learning self-defense mechanisms.

Measures to prevent sexual harassment

However, according to Rurakukuza, the AFJO not only documented the alarming findings but also took concrete measures to effectively combat sexual harassment.
This includes awareness campaigns for both the public and journalists in particular to raise awareness of sexual harassment and its impact on employees and work. The publication of the law on the prevention and protection of those affected and the punishment of gender-based violence is a further step. Most recently, a code of conduct against harassment in the various media was introduced, which also provides for strict sanctions in addition to the statutory penalties.

The AFJO welcomes the fact that Article 46 of the Burundian press law guarantees the right of journalists to security. She also acknowledges the fact that the Burundian Ministry of Communications and Media has adopted the Gender-Sensitive Media Charter. This charter sets out a list of activities, including combating sexual harassment, that must be carried out by media managers in order to contribute to the implementation of national communications policy. This contains a separate chapter on equality between men and women in the media.

The AFJO calls on all partners to combine their efforts to eliminate this widespread phenomenon of sexual harassment.


Prof. Dr. Auma on criticism of colonialism

The 9th digital networking meeting of the partnership groups took place on November 17.11.2023th, XNUMX with Prof. Dr. Maisha-Maureen Auma as a source of inspiration.

In her impressive lecture, Prof. Dr. Auma that the Global South continues to be marginalized. One consequence: actors from these regions often enter into partnerships that are largely determined by the Global North. This reinforces the unequal distribution of power and continues to perpetuate it. Prof. Auma also emphasized that coloniality consists, among other things, of the fact that worldwide knowledge, progress and interpretation of social reality are viewed from a white-centric perspective. As a result, the perspectives and knowledge of people from the Global South are underrepresented and even erased. During the course of the lecture it became clear that West-centric and white-centric structures must be broken down. According to Prof. Dr. Auma partnership does not mean that only those affected by colonialism do the work, but white people must also start to deal with the uncomfortable issues. An important step in enabling shared discussions about inevitable and difficult topics is to promote a multi-perspective view. It is crucial to identify places of reproduction such as museums, mainstream media and schools and to create new spaces for reflection on power relations. This opens up the possibility of designing partnerships in such a way that the knowledge and experiences of historically marginalized and colonized people from the Global South are actively included. This approach opens doors to more inclusive forms of collaboration and enables the creation of a more balanced, diverse and equitable global partnership landscape.

Watch the lecture here:


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Prof. Dr. Maisha Maureen Auma is an educational scientist and gender researcher. She is currently a visiting professor for intersectional diversity studies at the Center for Interdisciplinary Women's and Gender Studies at the Technical University of Berlin. Her research focuses on diversity in educational materials in East and West Germany, sexual education empowerment for black people and people of color in Germany, critical whiteness research, anti-blackness, childhood research, intersectionality in the context of critical race theory and criticism of racism. She has been active in the black feminist self-organization Generation ADEFRA, Black Women* in Germany, since 1993.


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