Dating in Burundi

Burundi, a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa, is a place rich in history and unique dating culture. The nation’s history is intricately intertwined with its dating culture, which is a reflection of the historical and ongoing influence of ethnic, societal, and gender dynamics. The two primary ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi, have coexisted in Burundi for centuries and despite a history marred by ethnic tension, their cultures have intermingled over time, creating a blend of traditions that can be seen today, especially in the realms of marriage and relationships.

Burundian dating culture, like many African societies, is rooted in the principles of respect and honor towards the family and community. Historically, marriage was not simply a union of two individuals but a binding of two families, with the aim to strengthen social, economic, and political ties. The traditional practice of “kwigeba” was prevalent in the past, wherein a young man, after identifying a woman he wished to marry, would organize a raid with his friends to “kidnap” her, after which negotiations for the bride price (“amaboko”) would commence with her family. Nowadays, while such traditional customs are less common, they are still reflected in certain ceremonial aspects. Modern dating and courtship in Burundi have evolved under the influence of western norms and the growing trend of urbanization, yet they still retain a unique Burundian flavor, which is characterized by a blend of respect for family involvement, community blessing, and individual choice.

Social life and dating culture in Burundi are influenced by many traditions ranging from Hutu, Tutsi and Twa practices to remnants of Dutch and French colonial life. Due to the diversity of culture in Burundi it is impossible to characterize all Burundian people under a unified dating culture. Individual experiences may vary greatly depending on factors such as age, education, urban vs rural location, religion, and personal beliefs. However, we will attempt to share some specific aspects about dating in Burundi, which we feel are shared experiences by most Burundians.

The dating culture Burundi is shaped by a complex interplay of traditional customs, societal norms, and modern influences. Whether it is the formal courtship rituals of traditional societies or the casual dating practices of urban youth, each reflects the unique cultural context in which it occurs, offering a fascinating insight into the diversity and complexity of African social life.

Interesting facts about dating in Burundi

  1. Tribe Influence: In Burundi, the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa tribes each have unique customs and traditions that significantly influence dating and romantic relationships.
  2. Marriage Proposal: In Burundian culture, it’s customary for a man to propose to a woman by sending her a jug of palm wine. If she accepts and drinks the wine, it’s seen as an acceptance of the proposal.
  3. Importance of Dowry: Dowry, known as “amaboko” in Kirundi, the local language, plays a significant role in Burundian marriages. It usually consists of cows, goats, and money. In many instances, a larger dowry signifies greater respect and ability to take care of the bride, adding to the man’s status in society.
  4. Counselling and Testing: Due to the high HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in Burundi, couples intending to marry are often required to undergo counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS before they can proceed with wedding plans.
  5. Family Involvement: Families in Burundi are actively involved in the dating and marriage process of their children. From the initial stages of courtship to the wedding ceremonies, parents play key roles in providing advice, ensuring compatibility, and maintaining ties between the two families.
  6. Traditional Dance: The traditional dance of Burundi, known as the “Drum of Ingoma,” often plays a significant role in courtship. Men use the dance to show their strength, agility, and suitability as a partner.
  7. Gender Roles: Traditional gender roles are quite prevalent in Burundi, with men usually taking the initiative in the early stages of dating. However, this is slowly changing with more urbanization and Western influence.
  8. Dating Spots: Despite being one of the smallest countries in Africa, Burundi is rich in natural beauty, with Lake Tanganyika being a popular spot for romantic dates.
  9. Religion’s Influence: As a predominantly Christian country, Christian beliefs and values significantly shape dating etiquette, with an emphasis on respect, honesty, and chastity before marriage.
  10. Co-habitation: Unlike some Western societies, cohabitation before marriage is generally frowned upon in Burundian culture. It is expected that couples will live separately until they are formally married.
  11. Gusaba Ceremony: In Burundi, traditional marriage involves a special ceremony known as “Gusaba.” This is essentially an official marriage proposal where the man, along with his family and friends, visit the woman’s family home to formally ask for her hand in marriage. This gathering involves negotiation and payment of the bride price, presentation of gifts to the woman’s family, and traditional dance performances.
  12. Symbolic ‘Kidnapping’: While less common in urban areas and among younger generations, some rural parts of Burundi still practice the ceremonial ‘kidnapping’ of the bride. This is a symbolic act where, after agreeing on the bride price, the groom and his friends pretend to abduct the bride from her family home, symbolizing her leaving her family to join her husband’s.
  13. Marriage as a Social Event: Wedding celebrations in Burundi are typically grand, vibrant affairs with extensive guest lists. A traditional Burundian wedding may last for several days, involving feasts, traditional music, and dance, thus serving as a communal celebration rather than just a family event.

Most Romantic Day in Burundi

Primarily due to the impact and influence of foreign media on Burundi, Valentine’s Day is generally considered to be the most romantic holiday for Burundians. Like other countries, it is celebrated on February 14th.

Typical First Date in Burundi

There is no way to accurately define a first date in Burundi. There are many factors which will impact what two people decide to do on a first date. The socioeconomic dynamic of the couple, where they might be located and even religious beliefs will all have some impact on the first date.

Despite all of these influencing factors, there are some common aspects that first dates around the world typically share. On your first date in Burundi, the focus should be on getting to know each other in an informal setting where you can chat openly. It does not matter if you are talking over a cup of coffee, walking out in nature or a park or another original idea, the goal should be to check the vibe, see if there is a connection or potential for continuing the relationship. Here are a few ideas for first dates in Burundi:

  • Shopping: In Bujumbura, Gitega and other cities, shopping malls or commercial centers can be great date spots. They are relatively safe, public and there is enough external stimulation to keep a good conversation going.
  • Coffee or drinks: Many first dates in Burundi take place in a casual setting, such as a coffee shop or bar.
  • Outdoor activities: In some parts of Burundi, there are many options for outdoor activities such as hiking/walking, picnic, biking or even a combination of activities while visiting a local park. Depending on the activity level of you and your date, these may be nice options for you.

Dating etiquette

Like social cues and other aspects of dating, dating etiquette or expectations of behavior when on a date can vary somewhat from individual to individual. That being said, if you are on a date in Burundi, below are some general tips to keep in mind:

  • Punctuality: Even though many parts of Africa are known for \’Africa time\’, being on time for a date is generally seen as a sign of respect in most cultures. However, attitudes towards punctuality will vary, with some cultures placing a high importance on it, while others might have a more relaxed attitude. Don\’t be surprised if your date arrives 3 hours late!
  • Dress and appearance: Dressing appropriately for the occasion and taking care of personal hygiene are often seen as signs of respect towards the other person. In Burundi, men are expected to dress in a neat and stylish manner, while women might be expected to wear more fashionable or elegant outfits. This will vary based off of socioeconomic factors.
  • Physical contact: In some cultures, casual touching (like a hug or a kiss on the cheek) might be common even on a first date, while in more conservative cultures, any kind of physical contact might be reserved for later stages of a relationship or even marriage. Since Burundi has both traditional, conservatively minded and others who may follow more international
  • Public displays of affection: Public displays of affection can be more common in some Latin American cultures than in others. Pay attention to the body language of your date and cues to determine what is appropriate.
  • Paying the bill: In many cultures, the person who initiated the date is expected to pay the bill, although this is not a universal rule. Offering to split the bill can be a polite gesture, although in some cultures it might be expected for the man to pay.
  • End of the date: How the date ends can also convey a lot. Walking the other person to their car or home, or arranging for their safe return, is often seen as a sign of care and respect. If both parties enjoyed the date, it is common to express interest in meeting again.

The Importance of language

Africa is an immensely diverse continent. There are thousands of languages spoken throughout and many different cultural practices. Burundi is one of fifty-four countries in Africa, each generally having their own using culture and language norms.

As Burundi was colonized by the Belgium, Dutch and French is widely spoken. However, there are other languages such as Kirundi. Though it is not possible to learn all languages, especially as a foreigner or tourist, we do always recommend studying local culture and learning language, even if just a few phrases. As you know, language is an incredibly important form of communication and knowing some Hutu, Tutsi or Twa will greatly enhance your experience.

While some Burundians may also speak English or other languages, being able to communicate in any other local language can help to build stronger relationships with locals, facilitate communication in a variety of contexts and gain respect or trust with new people. It is a win-win situation for you and the culture.

Is Burundi gay friendly?

Unfortunately, as a whole, Africa has a very poor record for LGBTQ+ rights and protections. Further, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, the majority of people in many sub-Saharan African nations held negative views towards homosexuality.3 Because of this, gayness is heavily stigmatized in certain Burundian communities and areas around Burundi. These stigmas are influenced by a myriad of religious, political and historical cultural beliefs.

With the exception of South Africa, where there are constitutionally enshrined protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. South Africa was the first country in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in their constitution, and it remains the only African country to have legalized same-sex marriage. Unlike Bujumbura, Gitega cities like Cape Town are known to have vibrant gay communities and events, which is a rare occurrence in Africa.

As of today, homosexuality remains criminalized in nearly every African country, including Burundi. While a few have made strides towards acceptance and equality, sadly there is a long way to go before LGBTQ individuals are freed from oppression in places like Burundi. Until that time, it remains dangerous to be openly gay in most of Africa.

If you plan on using one of the gay dating apps in Burundi, please be EXTREMELY careful. Check the latest regulations from a reputable international organization like the ILGA and use apps like Grindr and Tinder, which help you to remain safe.

Social cues

In Africa, social cues can be somewhat subjective to the individual, as is the case with Burundians. Each country, like Burundi, has multiple cultures inside of it. It is important to understand who you are dating. More conservative people will be reserved and may be focused purely on serious relationships, while more liberally minded people will be more open to different connections. It is important to be respectful to your date and understand their expectations.

When it comes to dating in Burundi, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Non-verbal cues: As is common in many cultures, body language plays an important role in expressing interest or disinterest during a date. Maintaining eye contact, smiling, and leaning towards the other person can all indicate interest. On the other hand, crossing arms, avoiding eye contact, or frequently checking a phone can signal disinterest.
  • Verbal cues: Listening attentively, asking follow-up questions, and responding positively to stories or jokes can signal interest. In contrast, frequently interrupting, dominating the conversation, or responding negatively can signal a lack of interest or respect.

Gender roles

Much like the rest of the world, traditional gender roles in Burundi are not substantially different. Though it is difficult to generalize such a vastly diverse region, Africa, as a whole, tends to be somewhat conservative. Because of this, traditional gender roles tend to dominate dating practices in Burundi. Burundian men are often expected to take the initiative in asking women out, planning the date, and paying for the expenses. Burundian women, on the other hand, are often expected to be more reserved and nurturing. To a degree, religion will often play a part of this as well.

As globalization and urbanization march forward, norms around dating and gender roles are changing, especially among younger generations and in urban areas. More egalitarian dating practices are becoming more common, with some Burundian women also taking the initiative and couples splitting the bill. Further, where applicable, LGBTQ couples will have different norms.

Best way to meet singles in Burundi

The best place to meet singles in Burundi depends a lot on where you might be. If you are in a rural area, then your options may be limited. However, if you find yourself in a large urban center like Bujumbura, Gitega, then you may have more options. Do some research on popular activities or events happening in your area and see what you find.

We believe that you can increase your chances of meeting Burundian singles by trying out some of these methods:

  • Social events: Attending social events like festivals or cultural events even parties are great ways to meet new people and potentially find a romantic partner. Though many of these are not specifically focused on dating, they may present opportunities to strike up a conversation with someone new.
  • Through friends: If you live in a place and have a friend network, it may be easy to meet potential partners through friends or mutual acquaintances. Ask your friends to introduce you to someone they think you may hit it off with, or attend social events with them to meet new people. It is important to use this sparingly though in case a new relationship does not work out.
  • Joining groups or clubs: Joining a new club or group centered around a common interest such as a profession, skill, sport or even language exchange, can all be great ways to meet new people. By joining an organization based on mutual interests, conversations will be easy and it is easier to relax.
  • Go shopping: In cities like Bujumbura, Gitega, shopping centers, malls and markets are great places to meet new Burundian singles. Markets and malls are often central to daily life and people visit them frequently either out of necessity or to pass time.
  • Volunteering: There should be plenty of volunteer opportunities in Burundi. Volunteering for a local organization or charity is not only a great way to give back to the greater human society, but it can also be a great way to meet new people who share similar values, passions and worldviews.
  • Online dating: If all else fails, there is always online dating. As you will read in the section below, the online dating scene is evolving in Burundi. Though the amount of Burundian singles on these platforms is still relatively small, the apps and sites can still be ways of meeting someone new who shares values and interests with you.

Is it safe to date people in Burundi?

As a continent, Africa has a bad image for safety and security. It is not that all of Africa is unsafe, it is more that it is not consistent. Many parts of Africa are quite safe and open for dating, whereas other parts are very complicated for a number of reasons.

It does not matter if you are Burundian, African or a foreign tourist, if you plan to date in Burundi, it can be an interesting experience for you. However, you should take certain safety precautions to ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable time meeting new people.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind when dating in Burundi:

  • Be Aware of Local Laws and Customs: Learning about the local culture, like you are doing now, can help you navigate dating in Burundi and avoid cultural misunderstandings or faux pas. Further, if Burundi is a new place for you, take some time to review local laws and customs, particularly related to dating and public behavior. This is especially important for LGBTQ+ individuals, as laws and societal acceptance vary greatly. If you are going to use gay dating apps, we recommend that you consider using well known international apps. Some dating apps, such as Grindr or Tinder, have implemented security features into their apps that let you know if you are traveling in a country where gay relationships are illegal.
  • Choose a Reputable Dating Platform: Use a reliable dating app or website that requires identity verification. This can help weed out fake profiles and scammers.
  • Use the messaging service on the dating app: It is safer to use the messaging service provided by the dating app until you are comfortable sharing your contact details.
  • Keep Personal Information Private: Do not share sensitive information like your home address, financial details, or other private information with someone you have just met online.
  • Research Your Date: Do a quick online search of the profile information of your date to verify their identity. Be wary of profiles with limited friends, photos, and interactions as these could be signs of a fake profile.
  • Tell Someone About Your Plans: Always tell a friend or family member where you are going, who you are meeting, and when you expect to return.
  • Meet in Public: On your first few dates, meet in a public place like a café or a park where there are plenty of people around. In a places like Bujumbura, Gitega, it should be somewhat easy to find a public space.
  • Stay Sober: If alcohol is served on your first date, pay attention and limit your intake to ensure that you are fully aware of your surroundings. As alcohol can impair your judgment, it is safer to drink less when you first get to know someone.
  • Trust Your Gut: If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts and do not feel obliged to stay in a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Remove yourself from a bad situation when it feels right to do so.
  • Safe Sex: If you decide to become intimate with your date, remember to practice safe sex. This includes using protection and getting regular check-ups for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Remember, safety first. It is important to take precautions and use common sense when dating in Burundi, whether online or offline.

Dating scams in Burundi

Dating scams can and do unfortunately happen across the globe. Africa is no stranger to scams or deceptive practices. Particularly in the digital world, wherever there are lonely or naive people, a nefarious person can take advantage of their kindness or emotions.

While we do not know of any dating scams unique to Burundi, we do believe you should keep in mind these online dating scams which are common in other African countries and the rest of the world. While we do not believe paranoia helps, it is always a good idea to be careful and approach online dating in Burundi with caution. Until you build trust with someone, you should not provide too many personal details. Whether you are Burundian or a foreigner looking to date in Burundi, please keep these common dating scams in mind when using apps and sites to meet new people:

  • Identity theft: Scammers may use dating apps or websites to steal personal information from their targets, such as credit card numbers or other personal details.
  • Romance Scams: In this scam, criminals create fake profiles on dating websites or apps. They build an online relationship with their victims and then ask for money for various reasons – a sick relative, a plane ticket to visit, or some other fabricated story. Once they receive the money, they disappear.2
  • Advanced Fee Fraud: This is one of the most common types of fraud in West Africa, in countries like Nigeria and Ghana, but could also happen in Burundi. The scammer forms a relationship with the victim and then asks for money to help them access a large amount of money or gold they have supposedly inherited but cannot access due to bureaucratic red tape.
  • Catfishing: This involves a scammer creating a fake profile with stolen photos and false information. The scammer entices the victim into a relationship with the goal of obtaining personal information or exploiting them emotionally.
  • Military Scams: In these scams, fraudsters pose as military personnel who are serving overseas or outside of Burundi. They form a relationship with the victim and then ask for money, often claiming that it is for a leave application, medical expenses, or other fabricated reasons.
  • Gift Scams: Scammers, after forming a relationship, might ask for expensive gifts or money to buy such gifts. Once the gifts or money are received, they break off contact.
  • Kidnapping Scams: These are extreme and less common, but there have been reports of scammers luring victims to a location under the pretense of a date and then kidnapping them for ransom.
  • Other money scams: Scammers may create fake profiles on dating apps or websites and then ask their targets for money for any number of other reasons than previously mentioned. If money is involved, it is likely a dating scam. Use good judgement.

Online dating in Burundi

The advent of the digital age has revolutionized many aspects of modern Burundian life, including the way people meet and form romantic relationships. Though online dating in the greater African continent is not a significantly developed industry, growth, at least on a relative percentage level, has been significant in recent years. The online dating industry, albeit relatively small in Burundi, is blossoming and we may be on the cusp of a developing industry for the region.

Like many other countries in Africa, online dating in Burundi was slow to take off initially. This is likely due to a few aspects:

One is that historically, Burundi has had a low internet penetration and limited access to smartphones. However, over the last decade with the widespread adoption of mobile technology, increased internet accessibility, and reduction in costs, Burundians people are increasingly digitized.

Second, accessibility, particularly through localization. Product adoption and education is typically very low when people do not understand the user interface (UI) language of your product. Historically, most dating apps have not localized for any African languages, let alone languages native to the region around present-day Burundi, such as Hutu or Tutsi. European languages, a legacy of colonization, make products accessible for those who speak them. For this reason some international dating apps, like Badoo, Bumble, Tinder or gay dating apps localized into Dutch and French may be more popular in Burundi particularly among Francophone or Dutch speaking Burundian singles.

Third, history and widespread scams, have led to distrust amongst online platforms, especially foreign ones on occasion. With time and companies demonstrating devotion to privacy and data security, it is likely that more single Burundians will be open to online dating. However, with the dark colonial past by Belgium, there is definitely a legacy sentiment of skepticism among certain people. Rightfully so in some cases. Companies will need to work extra hard to overturn this and build trust with locals, or be locals themselves.

A fourth reason is mainly culture. More traditional societies and indigenous people like the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa, are quite foreign to the concept of a dating app or website. This is due to the reliance on social circles and emphasis on maintaining culture through relationships within the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa community(ies). Further, for religious Burundians there would definitely be stigmas or perceived risk associated with online dating.

A fifth reason is that dating can be seen as a luxury, even among people who have an open mind towards meeting new people. Though there are wealthy Burundian, many singles in Burundi continue to struggle economically. With each passing generation, the economic situation seems to be improving, but many Burundian have a long way to go before having a western style social life.

Despite these setbacks and reservations, we believe that the online dating industry has an interesting future in Burundi. As a whole, the African continent has more than 1.4 billion people; most interestingly, the median age of this population is 19.4.1 Compared to Europe, where the median age is over 40 and population is roughly half, that is a substantial growth story for Burundi and the rest of Africa. As more and more people join the digital world, we expect Burundian singles to increasingly turn to online dating as a means for connection.

Presently, the online dating landscape in Africa is dynamic, diverse and slowly accelerating. International platforms have had a presence for years, but a notable trend in the online dating scene in Africa, is the rise of niche platforms catering to specific groups. For example, culture-specific dating like dating apps for Muslims or Christians or LGBTQ communities. Where indigenous or linguistic communities are large in number, we may even see dating apps that cater to Hutu, Tutsi and Twa singles.

With continued tech adoption and changing societal attitudes, the future of online dating in Africa looks promising. User growth in Burundi will inevitably contribute to that change, even if in relatively small ways. As a youthful and digitally-connected population continues to grow, so too does the potential market for online dating services. Additionally, the ongoing shift towards homegrown and niche dating platforms suggests a future where the industry is increasingly tailored to the diverse needs and preferences of local Burundian daters.

Top dating apps in Burundi

Much like in the rest of the world, international recognized dating apps like Badoo or Tinder, are likely to have users in nearly every African country. These apps are likely to be popular with young Burundian singles. If you plan to use a dating app in Burundi, we recommend reviewing the below apps in addition to any other apps you may be familiar with. Online dating is a lot about trying different platforms and sites and finding ones that works best for you and your interests. This will give you the best chances of success in meeting someone special.

Keep in mind, the dating sites and apps available and popular by country may depend on how well the apps are localized into the languages of Burundi.

  • AfroIntroductions: As one of the largest African dating sites, AfroIntroductions has a presence in Burundi and gives Burundian singles access to connections with other single daters around the continent and in the diaspora.
  • Tagged: Tagged is a social networking site that has grown to be a popular platform for dating in many African countries with a presence in Burundi.
  • Muslima: This niche dating site caters to the Muslim community. Though it has its largest and most significant user base in North Africa in countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, Muslims around Africa find value in the dating app.
  • Muzz: a popular dating app for Muslim people
  • DateMeKenya: Though specific to Kenya, DateMeKenya is an example of a country-specific dating site.
  • Liefie: Additionally, in South Africa, Liefie is particularly tailored towards Afrikaans-speaking singles.


2 Romance dating scams in Africa are common:

3 Sub-Saharan views on homosexuality: