Ririkumutima: Intelligent queen who made Germany colonization so hard in Burundi
Mwamikazi Nidi Ririkumutima Bizama hitanzimiza Mwezi (died 28 July 1917) reigned as Queen
Regent of Burundi from 1908 till her death.
Ririkumutima was born in the Kingdom of Burundi in the mid-nineteenth century, the third
daughter of Chief Sekawonyi of the Watussi Munyakarama clan by his wife Inankinso.
Ririkumutima was one of Mwezi Gisabo’s (ca. 1850 – 1908) thirteen wives and gave birth to
three daughters and six sons.
Mwezi, the elderly king, died in 1908.
She made Germany colonization so hard in Burundi after the passing away of her husband
King Mwezi IV Gisabo.
Ririkumutima was committed that the throne must pass to one of her sons. Ririkumutima
arranged for Ntibahinya’s assassination after learning that another wife, Ntibahinya, was
gaining favor and that the throne appeared to be passing to Ntibahinya’s son, Mbikije.
She then went around the kingdom declaring that she was Mbukije’s mother and therefore the
legitimate queen mother. Although it was commonly recognized that Ririkumutima was not
Mbukije’s biological mother, the fiction was believed, and she served as regent both during
Mbukije’s reign as Mutaga IV Mbikije and during Mwambutsa IV’s reign after that.
In Burundian society, the position of queen mother (mugabekazi) was highly respected; this,
combined with Ririkumutima’s political acumen, made her a formidable presence.
Her other sons rose through the ranks of the local aristocracy to positions of authority.
Ririkumutima wielded enormous power as Queen Mother and regent, and Europeans regarded
her as “intelligent, as energetic, and as stubborn as all the princes in her entourage.”
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