Festivals Zanzibar (tradition and culture)

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  • Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba have a wealth of tradition and culture much of which is recognised by numerous annual festivals and celebrations.

    This is the three days festival that follows the end of Ramadan when eating drinking and smoking is prohibited during daylight hours. Because the date is dependent on the Islamic calendar , the dates of both Ramadan and therefore Eid vary by as much as 11 days each year.


    Established in 1997 the Festival of the Dhow Countries is the highlight of Zanzibar’s artisti and cultural calendar . A two week event held every July , the festival features craftwork , dance , music , painting , photography , sculpture , theatre , and film from the dhow countries of East , North East and Southern Africa , the Gulf States , India , Iran , Pakistan , and the islands of the Indian Ocean . The main venue for the festival is the open air theatre at the Old Fort but events also take place at the Palace Museum , House of Wonders , Old Dispensary and the Old Customs House.

    This four days festival which marks the arrival of the Shiraz New Year takes place at the end of July.

    Although celebrated in many parts of Zanzibar , it is in Makunduchi that the ancient rites are most enthusiastically and elaborately followed. It involves huge bonfires, mocks fights with banana palms between the men and much banter between the women , dressed in their best and their menfolk . It is believed that since everyone has had a chance to vent their hard feelings the New Year ca be started with a clean slate and in harmony so each day ends with much feasting , singing , dancing and parties on the beach . The festivities vary from village to village but it is at Makunduchi that the biggest celebration take place.


    East Africa’s premier music festival and highlights the best music from the Swahili speaking world Featuring hip hop , r’ n’ , rap and raggae along with the more traditional dance (ngoma) , taarab , mystic and religious music , the six day event is held each February . Taarab is a form of local music that is a mixture of sounds and styles from Arabia , India and Africa while Ngoma is a traditional African dance accompanied by fast rhythmic drumming . More than 400 musicians and artists participate in a continuous daily programme which in addition to music also features comedy and dance.


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