The Burundian Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport promotes traditional recreational activities as well as modern sports. The Ministry has tried to use friendly competition to bring the country's warring factions together. Soccer (known as football) has become a national game played throughout the country. Burundi has competed in several African Nations Cups. Basketball is also becoming popular.

Burundians excel in track and field events, especially running and jumping. Burundian students who pursue their education in foreign countries often represent their universities in track and field events. Burundian athletes have competed in African and international games.

Favourite pastimes include visiting friends and relatives, storytelling and poetry recitations. Storytelling can be in the form of an igitito (chant), which is both entertaining and educational. The chants tell stories of kings or gods. Among cattle herders, kivivuga amazina, a poetry contest, is popular. An individual or a group performs a song, improvised on the spot, describing his or the group's abilities and accomplishments in exaggerated terms. The competitors respond with improvised songs, exaggerating even more. The contest takes place before an audience. Judges determine the winner, based on the competitor who makes the greatest claims.

When children get together, they like to tell riddles and play games. The game gusimba ikibariko involves jumping with a ball. The object of gukina amabuye is to throw several stones a few feet in the air and catch them all before they fall to the ground. Horo is a ball game played by girls. Boys enjoy free-style wrestling.

Burundians of all ages play the ancient game of urubugu, also known as mancala. It can be played with pebbles or seashells on hollows scooped out on the ground, or with seeds on expensive, elaborately carved wooden boards. Different versions of this game are played throughout Africa.

The Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport encourages groups who perform traditional dancing and drumming. Drumming is a form of recreation as well as an art and is often part of the entertainment at gatherings of friends and families.

   Did you know?
Vénuste Niyongabo, who competed in the 1996 Olympic Games, won the gold medal in the 5,000-metre race, the first-ever Olympic medal for Burundi.