Friday, 7 August 2020



"A constant parade of players improvised on the central drum, dancing to the rhythms, leaping or twirling drumsticks in the air or around their necks. It was all a celebration of ability, the sheer pleasure of competitive creativity, and - strikingly similar to what happens in a jazz jam session - more virtuosic than sentimental." —The New York Times

The Royal Drummers of Burundi, commonly known in recordings as The Drummers Of Burundi, is a unique and an awesome percussion ensemble from Burundi. They are one of the greatest percussion ensembles in the world, and have performed in the same way for centuries, passing down traditions and techniques from father to son. Their performances were traditionally a part of particular ceremonies, such as births, funerals and the enthronement of Kings. In Burundi, drums are sacred and represent, along with the king, the powers of fertility and regeneration. The origins of their performance being shrouded in ancient legend and mystery, the Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi channel the energy and creative spirit of a nation through these drums and the rituals surrounding them.
Royal Drummers of Burundi

It is generally admitted that the culture of central Burundi (Muramvya, Ngozi and Gitega territories) is representative of the culture of the whole country but major variations are seen in the peripheral territories: the Rusizi plain and the Imbo region in the west, bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); Buragane and the Moso in the south and south-west respectively, bordering Tanzania. These variations exist in other regions, but are less pronounced than in the four areas mentioned, and are due to the proportions of a particular population group over another and to each group's way of life (agriculture, livestock, pottery or other trade, …).
The large drums "Ingoma" that are played are made from hollowed tree trunks covered with skin. The "Amashako" drums provide a continuous beat, and "Ibishikiso" drums follow the rhythm of the central "Inkiranya" drum. The thunderous sound of the drums with the graceful yet athletic dance that accompanies this masterful performance represents an important part of Burundi's musical heritage.

Master drummers of Burundi performing at Bujumbura

Since the 1960's the Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi have toured outside of their country, becoming a popular attraction at concert halls and festivals around the world. Their massed drum sound, or the "Burundi beat" as it became known, also caught the ear of Western musicians and they appeared on Joni Mitchell's, The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975).
Their distinctive sound also influenced British rock bands of the early 1980's, such as Adam and the Ants, and Bow Wow Wow. It was seeing the drummers that inspired Thomas Brooman to organize the first WOMAD festival in 1982, an event that helped to spark the whole World Music boom.
Master Drummers of Burundi were very popular at Womadelaide last year in Australia

The Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi were recorded at Real World Studios in 1993 and released the live album on the Real World Label. Other recordings followed including The Master Drummers of Burundi in 1994 and The Drummers of Burundi in 1999. In 2006 the Company undertook a Sold Out six week coast to coast tour of the United States of America and Canada and will return to North America in the Fall of 2012 to undertake a coast to coast tour of the United States and Canada.

Their live performances are the ultimate African drum experience.
Very Murundi is a musician at heart, according to Ntahokaja in his article entitled La musique des Barundi (The music of the Barundi), (in: Grands Lacs, 1948-1949, 4-5-6: 45-49). His soul is a taut string which vibrates at the slightest breeze. He sings for all events of life, joyful or sad. The Barundi possess a broad repertoire of songs adapted to all states of mind and all circumstances of life. Joyful songs and sad songs - the latter fewer in number - enhance family and official gatherings, accompany certain rituals and ceremonies and are associated with certain trades. These include the following: Uruvyino singing (Imvyino in the plural)
Ntahokaja speaks of uruvyino singing as "mass singing", practised among most of the population. At family celebrations, for example, the singing rises spontaneously from among those present. As the beer glasses are emptied and hearts open, the people are seized by a rousing, lively and cheerful melody. The imvyino style is that of verse and refrain. A (male or female) soloist sings the verses, which are improvisational and have colourful, charming words. The audience, singing in chorus, takes up the refrain - a short, highly rhythmic phrase which is always the same within one song. This song is often accompanied by hand-clapping and possibly also dancing. 
Burundian drummers perform at a public event in Burundi's capital, Bujumbura.

The imvyino dance songs may also be categorized depending on the circumstances of their performance.
Dance songs at meetings of young girls . Private meetings of young girls from the same group of friends, taking the opportunity to exchange their views on life, their respective family situations and for advice given by older to younger girls. The songs sung on this occasion are full of advice and elements critical of society. 5
Dance songs accompanying a wedding celebration: 

Songs to prepare the future bride, giving advice on the way she has to behave with her in-laws; songs during the bridal procession, songs when the procession leaves at the end of the ceremony. This category of songs also includes those sung to mark the various traditional and compulsory visits to the families of the two newly-weds after the wedding.
Female Drummer troupe

Dance songs at the birth of a child. These songs are performed by family, friends and neighbours to salute a mother who has passed the test of bringing a baby into the world, and to greet the baby as he enters society. These dances acquire special, ritual solemnity when they celebrate the birth of twins; this is an event almost within the realm of evil. The dances performed then become part of a rite to correct this abnormality and to protect the family.

Dance songs of the Kiranga, or Kubandwa cult . On the whole, while the content of the songs and the form of the words fall within the ritual and reserved domain, the method of dancing follows that of profane dance singing.

Dance songs of the umuganuro. The celebrations of the First Fruits and of sowing the sorghum have been associated with a certain number of rituals involving the beating of drums, accompanied by dancing. The drummers are known as the Abakokezi (keeping the basic rhythm of the drums) and the Abavuzamurishyo (following the movement of the dancer).
Drumming dance

Dance songs for entertainment during shared, family occasions, at the end of ploughing or other joint activities where the warmth of the occasion - especially when drinking is involved - leads to spontaneous dancing.

Trade songs giving rise to dancing: hunting, beekeeping, cattle rearing, fishing, metalworking, etc., generally have rhythmic songs to accompany the work. For example, hunters have many songs in which they praise their hunting dogs. The following are some examples: the chant of the churn, the song of the mortar, the song of the beekeeper, the song of the beaters (hunting), the song of the gleaners, the song of the sower, the weeding song, etc.

The war dances of the intore: rhythmic dance in strict lines, with weapons: spears and shields, leopard skins, headdresses, pearl costumes and bells on the feet:
Presence of a leader to encourage the dancers with lyrical odes, war-like panegyrics: (amazina y'ubuhizi (listen) ) and (amazina y'intore).
Parade dance (kwiyereka) in a winding line reminiscent of the Indian line during which the warrior-dancers display their weapons.
Drum dancers from Burundi

Note: Some categories of the above songs are accompanied by musical instruments that we will describe. Generally, the dancers perform within the circle of spectators/singers. They dance in pairs, particularly the young girls and women. Traditionally, the female dances were danced within the rugo (enclosure) or its immediate surrounding area; the men's dances were danced for the king, for a chief or during important public meetings. The dances referred to above, like Burundian dancing in general, do not have the sensual movements found within the dances of certain other African regions.
Traditional Burundi dance

The number of dances common to both Hutu and Tutsi seems high. The authors of the article observe certain specific regional aspects which we describe here: the umuyebe dance in the Imbo region and its neighbouring Mirwa: miming dance reserved for men;
the ihunja (female) and imisambi (also female, imitates the movements of the crowned crane, after which it is named) and amayaya (listen) (male or female, nonchalant) dances, all from the Kirimiro region in the centre of the country.

 Traditional dancers at the Burundi Cup of Excellence awards ceremony. Photo by John Moore. Day Five: Last Day at CoE. The Umutsibo (female) dance concentrates on the movement of the legs and pelvis, but without eroticism, in the Buyogoma region; the urwedengwe (female) dance, which concentrates on the movement of the shoulders, with the dancer in a slight bent/tense position, in the Ngozi and Buyenzi regions; the ubusambiri dance in the Buragane region with heavy external influences, a young people's dance unknown to the old people of the region.
Burundi Drummers

2) ururirimbo singing (indirimbo in the plural)
The songs known by this name are sung by a single man or by a small group. Ururirimbo singing is that which best translates calm, subtle feelings. Its themes are prolific and its text is always constructed in poetic form. Ntahokaja observes a resemblance between ururirimbo singing and plainchant: clarity of melody and absence of chromaticism.
Within this category of indirimbo singing, the following classification may be proposed:

kwishongora singing : recitative lyrical declamation, with long phrases: traditionally, songs in praise of the king, princes and other important people of the country. Never danced since the rhythm is free, it concentrates on the quality of the text, presented as a lyrical poem. In general, the song is sung by one person but there may be occasions when some parts of the song are sung in chorus;
Several other types, including: Igitito (Ibitito) : sung legend or story;
Ikilito (Ibilito) singing: evening song, type of elegy interspersed here and there with a highly sentimental lament. A song for young girls during family evenings;
pastoral singing: pastoral songs can be placed in the category of pastoral eulogies alongside recited poetry (ibicuba, imivovoto, amazina y'inka (listen) ). Among these we note: odes sung in honour of herds and rondos sung on returning from transhumance (some of these rondos can be danced). The main themes of these songs are: the breeder and his wealth, happiness and prestige, the usefulness and beauty of his cows, their origin, their fertility, satire directed at apprentice shepherds, etc.;
War songs: War songs are related to war poetry (amazina y'ubuhizi (listen), amazina hy'urugamba or amatazirano y'ibyivugo ), recited in the form of autopanegyric odes;
Hunting songs : gukokeza or rousing the hunting dog;
Lullabies: icugumbiro, igihozo (listen) 
Epithalamia or wedding songs;
Chantefables or sung short stories (in prose): sung historical accounts and legends;
Laments and other songs: songs for two alternating choirs, ikimpwiri; post-drinking songs, amayaya, milling songs, indengo;
Modulated greetings: akazihi (listen), agocoya, agahibongozo, akayego;
Incantations: genre associated with the incantatory magic of the past, now sung purely for evening entertainment. The genre may be based on incantatory recitation or declamation, uniquely vocal singing or accompanied by a musical instrument (zither, musical bow).
Pastoral: to beseech the cow to mate, to beg her to give milk, in the Kiranga cult;
For the soothsayer: to beseech fate to give clients or to heal his patient;
Other songs, not mentioned here, vocal or accompanied by musical instruments.
Burundian drummers

Instrumental music

Among the types described above, some are accompanied by a musical instrument, whether this be the dance song or the type known as ururirimbo. Some instruments may produce instrumental music, not accompanied by voice, while others may be played in a group or as solo instruments.
Master drummers of Burundi

The main musical instruments are:
(a) ingoma drums:
The Burundian drum is made from a piece of tree trunk cut from certain forest species. An adult ox's or cow's skin is stretched over this hollowed-out section of trunk and secured to the wood using wooden pegs.


Kings Sacred Drummers of Seven

In general, the drum is played with sticks. The drummed rhythms of Burundi differ from those of Rwanda in terms of their rhythms and their more spectacular staging than that of the drums of Rwanda, with a more melodic and generally rigid technique. As in Rwanda, the term ingoma in Burundi has a very wide semantic field; it can refer to percussion drum, ritual drum, dynastic drum, power (royalty or otherwise), reign (or equivalent), government, era, particular country (kingdom). Equally, as in Rwanda, nobody in Burundi could manufacture a drum or have a drum manufactured without a formal order from the king, who alone held the privilege of owning the drums and having them played for himself.

Royal Drummers of Burundi

In ancient Burundi, drums were much more than simple musical instruments. As sacred objects, reserved solely for ritualists, they were only played under exceptional circumstances and then always for ritual purposes: the major events of the country were heralded by their beating - coronations, sovereigns' funerals - and, in the joy and fervour of all Burundians, they kept rhythm with the regular cycle of the seasons which ensured the prosperity of the herds and fields. Nowadays, the drum remains an instrument that is both revered and popular, reserved for national celebrations and distinguished guests. The ancient lineages of drummers have kept their art alive and, in some cases, have had great success in popularizing it around the world (L. Ndoricimpa and C. Guillet, Les tambours du Burundi (The drums of Burundi) 1983: 4).

Female drummer group

Royal drums: the palladium karyenda drum, which was only brought from its sanctuary on very rare occasions, particularly during the rites associated with the umuganuro - celebrating the sowing of the sorghum - and its secondant, rukinzo. Some of the tasks of the latter are reminiscent of the indamutsa drum of Rwanda: taking part in the ceremony of the king going to bed and getting up and, generally, marking out the rhythm of the life of the court; also the fact that it was renewed with each change of reign. Note that the rukinzo drum accompanied the king everywhere he went.

Burundian kid dancing to Royal drums of peace

The drum sanctuaries:
A tight network of mythical high places formed the political, religious and mythical framework of precolonial Burundi. Among these high places we can include the drum sanctuaries. These were properties owned by the mainly Hutu lineages and they alone, with the king's consent, held the privilege of manufacturing, playing and keeping drums and of bringing a certain number to the court on the occasion of the ritual of the umuganuro. These Abatimbo drummers, "those who hit hard", are probably a remnant of the ancient organization of Hutu principalities before the Tutsi conquest of the country. A sacred drum was enthroned in each sanctuary, surrounded by its attendants, the ingendanyi drums, and a set of drums that played for them.
Four examples of sanctuaries:
Gishora (hill), not far from Gitega: sacred drums kept there: ruciteme (for whom one clears brush) and murimirwa (for whom one ploughs) + maintenance of sacred python in a nearby copse. Lineage of Abanyakisaka drummers; the Higiro hill, also not far from Gitega: the sacred inakigabiro (lady of the land) drum. Lineage of the Abashaka drummers;
Magamba hill: the lineage of the Abazimbura of this sanctuary was responsible for renewing the rukinzo drum with each change of reign;
Banga: lineage of the Abanyuka and the Abashubi in the service of the nyabuhoro drum (the dispenser of peace).
b) The inanga zither: (listen)

•Culled from

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Today Begins the Ọ̀ṣun Osogbo (Oxobô) Festival!

Osogbo is a vast and prosperous city Yorùbá located in the state of Ọ̀ṣun in Nigeria. Its river is located in the main forest of that place, which Ọ̀ṣun has become, however, in this text what matters is not geographical information, but rather, liturgical information for this festival to take place since Ọ̀ṣun's return to ọ̀run, with the other Òrìṣàs. Come on? Come with me!
Ọ̀ṣun was and is a very important deity for the history of the formation of the aye, as it is narrated among the people of Ọbàtálá (my masters Obalesun and Oba Alamo who taught me) of Ilé-Ifẹ̀ and also by the people of Ọbàtálá de Ọ̀yọ́ (bàbá Adisa and one of his sons, they taught me), that Ọ̀ṣun received the eerindinlogun (16 odù oracle, where Ọó ẹyọ - búzios) is used by Ọbàtálá and was one of the first female deities to arrive in the aye, along with Ògún, Ọbàtálá, Èṣù and other Òrìṣàs - which may vary according to the orality of each tradition. 

It is narrated by the Yorùbás that during the creation of the aye, the male irúnmolès failed to try to create the aye. With this defeat, they returned to Ọ̀run, went to speak with Olódùmarè and were told that there was a woman among them and that she was despised by them, so, for them to succeed, they would have to have her help. Then they returned to Ọ̀run, asked Ọ̀ṣun to help them achieve their goal. She joined and they were successful.

The Ọ̀ṣun Osogbo festival is a rite that recalls the importance of the great mother of human beings (as I learned from my teachers in Ilé-Ifẹ̀) and also reinforces the inclusion of women in important activities among the Yorùbás, before the inclusion of women in the others. Western societies. Ọ̀ṣun is the mother who nourishes us all, since 70% of our body is made up of water and 90% of our cells are also made up of water. Ọ̀ṣun is the mother of us all!

Today is a day of worship (Ọ̀sẹ̀) for Ọbàtálá, but Ọ̀ṣun in some traditions is worshiped on the same day as Ọbàtálá. This deun festival began on the day of worship to Ọbàtálá, which proves the connection of both Òrìṣàs.

Ore yeye o!
Oun o!
Ota o!
Eri o!
Edan o!
Agba o!
Omi o!

Text: Caio Victorino - Ọmọ Ọbàtálá;
In the photo:

1. >Ọbà Alamo - Oba Isoro de Ife;
2. > Obalesun;
3. > Olusegun Daramola (creator of Adúláwọ TV);
4. > Ayobami Ogedengbe.

Festival: Auto De Floripes (Sao Tome and Principe)


Discovered in 1475, the exotic São Toméan archipelago stands out as a beautiful and enchanting tropical paradise in the Atlantic Ocean off the West African coast. Portuguese influence from its colonial past is a dominant feature in its socio-cultural life, and it can be seen in its various celebrations.

Without a doubt, the most original popular culture of São Tomé revolves around its traditional plays known as Tchiloli. Combining drama, dance, and music, Tchiloli was inspired by the European medieval plays recounting the feats of Charlemagne. These plays were brought to São Tomé for the purpose of entertaining the Portuguese settlers but were subsequently copied by the slaves who added elements of the local traditional rites.

These Tchilolis are often staged in village squares and can last for up to six hours. They are free to attend and it usually involves audience participation. Sometimes, scenes are replayed. Written by a blind 16th century Madeiran poet, the Tragedy of the Marquis of Muntua and the Emperor Charlemagne is often considered the most important Tchiloli.

However, it is the annual Auto de Floripes held in mid-August that brings thousands of visitors to the archipelago. A genuine epic street theater, the Auto de Floripes or Feast of St Lawrence is the number one cultural attraction in Principe and it involves the entire population of the island in the re-enactment of the battle between Christians and Moors.

The story centers on the attempt by the Christians to recover the holy relics stolen by the Moors who demand that Emperor Charlemagne pays homage to the local gods or hang from a tower. The Emperor, in turn, sends an emissary to the Moors enjoining to convert to Christianity and return the stolen relics. The streets of Principe become the stage as the scenes unfold over a three-day period.

•By Mariam Chiazor

•Culled from

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

A Multitude of Traditions in Burkina Faso

Music Learning from Band on the Wall

                                  Burkina Faso

                     — PEOPLE AND PLACES —

Talking about “cultural diversity” is no cliché in relation to Burkina Faso (the former Upper Volta – renamed after the 1984 revolution of Thomas Sankara). This is a country of some sixty different ethnic groups. West and southwest Burkina Faso is mostly under the influence of Mande culture, which is shared with both Mali and Côte d’Ivoire. 

The Dioula people settled their capital there, in BoboDioulasso, still a strategic commercial and cultural centre. Musically, its strongest traditions are those of balafon (xylophone) and percussion. The balafon tradition is shared by the Bwaba, Lobi, Dagara, Wara, Siamoux, Bobo and Toussian peoples. Ensembles internationally renowned for their performances of this music include Farafina, Badenya Les Frères Coulibaly, Djiguiya, Kady Diarra and Sabounyouma. 

Burkina Faso has also produced some distinguished djembe players, such as Adama Dramé, known worldwide, and Désiré Ouattara, director of the ensemble Saramaya. Living in the centre of the country, the Mossi people represent half of Burkina’s population and have a strong griot tradition. The Larle Naaba, traditional head of all the Mossi griot musicians, still retains his traditional function vis-à-vis Mossi kings as a genealogist, counsellor, historian and musician. He has his own troupe and teaches musicians in his own royal court. Numerous musicians carry on the Mossi traditions, content with the success they enjoy among their own people; Zoubna Zanda, for example, can fill a stadium without needing any publicity. 

Others, such as Prince Balzac, descended from the Tenkodogo royal family, are trying to modernise the music, as are the Soeurs Doga, whose vocal mastery and traditional rhythms have inspired young Burkinabé rappers. The northern part of Burkina is the home of the Fulbe people (also called Fula and Peul), the Bella and Touareg, who are closely linked to their cousins across the Mali and Niger borders. Their traditional music is splendid, with incredible voice techniques and fabulous hand-clapping rhythms. There are also strong musical traditions among the Senoufo, Gourounsi, Bissa and Nankana people in the south along the borders of Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Ghana. 

Several times award winners at the Semaine Nationale de la Culture held in Bobo-Dioulasso, the Wuzzi group freely makes use of the djeka rhythm from the Bissa tradition. Sami Rama, meanwhile, also a Bissa but born in Abidjan, is set Festivals on pursuing an international career after winning the 2002 Kundé d’Or Best Singer award. 

•Header image: Flickr

•Culled from

Monday, 3 August 2020

The Top 4 Festivals in Rwanda

Rwanda is a landlocked East African country boasting majestic volcanoes, lush, dense greenery, imposing mountains and spectacular wildlife. Nicknamed the “Land of a Thousand Hills”, Rwanda has suffered a turbulent history in recent years, but is now entering an economic and environmental resurgence sure to elevate it as a top tourist spot. And there are a number of festivals here you won’t want to miss, celebrations of song, dance and Rwandan culture which spread joy and bring communities to life. From religious feast days to Gorilla naming ceremonies, here’s our guide to the 4 best festivals in Rwanda.

Rwanda I © Ludovic Hirlimann/Flickr

Kwita Izina: The Gorilla Naming Ceremony

The birth of a baby is considered a momentous occasion in Rwanda, with each newborn presented to the public amongst a tummult of happiness and praise. And this tradition even extends to gorillas. For an experience unlike any other, attend the Kwita Izina, the Gorilla Naming Ceremony, a country-wide event where baby gorillas are introduced to the local communities, formally named and celebrated. The event is extremely popular, with gala balls held in honor of the ceremony throughout the country, and in recent times an increasing number of conservationists and celebrities have supported the celebration, and the strong importance it places on respecting, appreciating and monitoring wild animals.

Mother and Baby Mountain Gorillas © Wiki Commons

Umuganda (Public Cleaning) Day

Umuganda is a Rwandan national day of community service. Between 08:00 and 11:00 on Umuganda, Rwandan civilians take part in a country-wide ban on road traffic, whilst everyone participates in communal work for the public good. Much like a day of community service in the United States, most of the work involves cleaning, including a washing of the streets and parks. There are other ways of commemorating the holiday too, and some locals choose to plant trees and participate in environmental work. A strange and endearing spectacle to see a busy and bustling country coming together to engage in public service activities, this event is deeply respected by the Rwandan people, and is a revered communal day which aims to better the health of the country.

International Peace Marathon

Rwanda is known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” and although this may seem a daunting setting for runners, it has become the perfect place for the International Peace Marathon held annually in May. This is always a jubilant event, bursting with color and oozing with enthusiastic and energetic participants. The first marathon was held on 15 May 2005, a poignant date which marked a decade since the Rwandan Genocide. Over 2000 runners of varying abilities from over 20 countries come to participate in the International Peace Marathon, drawing athletes from all over Africa and Europe. It’s an activity-filled day which also inspires a communal interconnectedness, and it is definitely worth entering if you’re an avid long-distance runner looking to explore Rwanda’s gorgeous hills. Be careful, however; the altitude reaches 1500 meters, so it’s worth undertaking altitude training before you begin the race.

International Peace Marathon I Courtesy of International Peace Marathon 

Assumption Day (August 15)

About 65% of the population in Rwanda is Christian, of which the majority are Catholic, so a celebration surrounding the assent of Mary into heaven is a vibrant and lively affair. Assumption Day marks the time when Mary, the mother of Jesus, ascended into heaven after her death. Rwandan communities honor this with ginormous feasts, dancing and music. Like any other public holiday, this feast will make getting around in the morning and afternoon fairly difficult in Rwanda, so make sure to plan ahead if you are preparing to travel out of any Rwandan city that day.

Rwandan Children Outside Volcans National Park © Wiki Commons

•By Amanda Chain

•Culled from

Culture in Botswana - Folk Music, the Pulse of Botswana

Botswana is made up of numerous ethnic groups, though the Batswana are the most numerous. Music is an omnipresent part of Botswana culture, and include popular and folk forms. Church choirs are common across the country. Music education is an integral part of the educational system. Children of all ages are taught traditional songs and dances. 

Tswana music is mostly vocal and performed without drums; it also makes heavy use of string instruments. 
Tswana folk music has got instruments such as Setinkane, Segankure / Segaba and for the last few decades, a guitar has been celebrated as a versatile music instrument for Tswana music. The guitar was originally played in a manner similar to Segaba but with a better rhythm due to plucking, almost completely replacing the violin-like Segaba until such prodigies of Segaba as Ratsie Setlhako re-popularised Segaba in the 80s with the help of radio. In the absence of instruments a clapping rhythm is used in music with the typical chant and answer manner of singing. The absence of drumming is predominant and is peculiar of an African tribe.

Natsieng Traditional Group in Botswana

Like many African countries, much of the popular music there is called jazz, though it has little resemblance to the African American genre of that name. There has been a push in recent years to focus on revitalizing the Botswana music industry instead of purchasing foreign releases. Most popular music in Botswana still comes from South Africa, United States, Europe or elsewhere in Africa. Gumba-gumba is a form of modernized Zulu and Tswana music, mixed with traditional jazz; the word gumba comes from township slang for party.

Tswana Dance, Botswana Culture Spears Group

Jazz Artist Banjo Mosele, Botsa Mmutla, hahhhahaaa, nice tune.......... enjoy

Traditional Dance - Mogwana Group:

Professional artists based in Gaborone, Botswana who perform the traditional music, song and dance of indigenous ethnic groups of Botswana and southern Africa. Mogwana Dance Company, professional performers/artistes of traditional songs and dances of Botswana and southern Africa.

•By Nnanglosika

•Culled from

Sunday, 2 August 2020

12 Fun, Colorful Festivals You Can Only Experience in Nigeria

These fun, colorful celebrations in Nigeria will give you an insight into past traditions and modern culture.

Celebrations are very much a part of the Nigerian culture, carried out with a lot of pomp and pageantry. Festivals are a way to showcase the country’s rich cultural heritage as well as the traditions of various ethnic groups in Nigeria.

These festivals and carnivals feature music, dances, fashion and food, giving visitors the opportunity to join in and have a first-hand experience of Nigerian culture. Along with major traditional festivals across Nigeria, there are also modern festivals, which have become a platform for younger generations to express themselves. Here is how you can get to know this country through music, dance, and food.

PHOTO: Xinhua / Alamy Stock Photo

1 OF 12

Lagos Carnival

The Lagos Carnival is the most prominent carnival in West Africa and is held during the Lagos Black Heritage Festival. The Carnival was introduced over a century ago by “emancipados” (emancipated slaves) and their descendants from Brazil, Cuba and West African countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia. The returnees brought with them vibrant carnival culture which evolved over time to become what is now known as Lagos Carnival. The event showcases the culture of Lagosians with colorful fashion, music and dances through the streets. Traditional rulers also come out in their regalia to add radiance to the occasion.

PHOTO: Ifesinachi Sabina/Shutterstock

2 OF 12

New Yam Festival

The New Yam Festival is an integral part of Igbo culture and tradition, where yam is regarded as the king of all crops. The festival marks the time of harvest and the beginning of a new planting season, usually between August and October. Old yams are eaten or discarded before the festival and new yams are consumed on the day of the festival, in the form of various yam dishes. Festivities usually last for a week or more in some areas and include prayers to be offered by the King or the eldest man in the community, masquerade dances and contemporary events such as fashion shows and beauty pageants.


The New Yam Festival featured often in the plots of novels by Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, including the famous Things Fall Apart.

PHOTO: Ifesinachi Sabina/Shutterstock

3 OF 12

Durbar Festival

The Durbar Festival, known as Hawan Daushe in the Hausa language, is celebrated twice annually as part of the festivities at the end of the Ramadan and Eid-ul-Kabir in most of the northern states in Nigeria. A long line of horsemen in colorful regalia form a procession into the parade ground, with the Emir (the traditional ruler) being the last horseman, dressed in royal robes. Visitors can watch horsemen prance or gallop about on their horses while brandishing swords—a display of valor to honor the Emir. Apart from horses, other animals are also adorned and displayed during the Durbar, including baboons, hyenas, and camels. Traditional dances and drumming sessions with trumpets and flutes go on throughout the event. Visitors can also watch jesters, acrobats, and stunt performers and try an array of local foods and snacks for sale. The highlight of the Durbar is the Jahi race, where several horsemen race towards the Emir at top speed and abruptly turn aside just before reaching him, and raise their sword or flag before exiting the race.


The Durbar offers a lot of photo opportunities, so take a camera along or make sure your phone is charged. Some of the horsemen will allow you to take their pictures or even take pictures with you—but always ask for permission first.

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Gidi Culture Festival

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Gidi Culture Festival

Gidi Culture Festival celebrates urban youth culture, expressed in music, food and games. The one-day festival creates the opportunity for both established and up-and-coming bands, DJs and musical acts to perform. The festival is an offshoot of the now-defunct Lekki Sound Splash—the main act included Fela Kuti—Gidi Culture Fest had its first edition in 2014 with musicians from Nigeria and since then, artists from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Congo and the United Kingdom have performed at the event. Gidi Culture Fest is held every year at Easter, usually on Saturday.

PHOTO: Toye Aru/Shutterstock

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Osun Festival

The Osun Festival is an annual celebration in honor of Osun, the Yoruba goddess of fertility. The festival, which is held in the month of August, has attracted thousands of visitors from different parts of the world for decades. The festival is usually twelve days long and takes place at the Osun Sacred Grove, a dense forest which houses sanctuaries, shrines, sculptures and artworks in honor of Osun and other deities. The Osun River, which is said to have healing powers and believed to be where the goddess resides, runs through the forest. The major highlight of the event is when the Arugba (Carrier of the Calabash) carries the sacrifices and offerings (usually food items) of the people from the Oba’s palace to the Osun Riverbank in the presence of the people. The festival also features various masquerades and dances by several groups of devotees in different attire.


While you are in Osogbo, you can visit the house of the late Susan Wenger, the Austrian-born artist who became an Osun priestess and died in Nigeria. There are a collection of carvings which she made, as well as works by the artists she trained in her lifetime. You can also see her artworks at the Osun Grove.

PHOTO: Akintomiwaao [CC BY-SA 4.0]/Wikimedia Commons

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Calabar Carnival

Dubbed Africa’s largest carnival, Calabar Carnival is a must-see event for visitors and tourists. The carnival began in 2004 as a means of attracting tourists to the city of Calabar with a month-long event featuring displays of African culture through music, dance, drama, and fashion, all in an explosion of bright colors. The event attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world, both as participants as well as spectators.


It’s important to book hotels well ahead of time. Hotels in and around Calabar are usually fully booked by the time the Carnival begins.

PHOTO: Slashme [CC BY-SA 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons

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Eyo Festival

Eyo Festival, also known as Adimu Orisa, is a masquerade festival in Lagos. It’s believed by some that the masquerade takes away sickness and poverty, bringing wealth and longevity. There are several versions of the history of Eyo—some claim it originated from Ijebuland (in southwest Nigeria) as a result of the marriage of a King of Lagos to an Ijebu princess, while others say the Eyo deity was sought out by an Oba of Lagos so that his younger sibling could have children. The Eyo masquerade represents the spirits of ancestors and it was originally seen at events like the burial or coronation of an Oba or high chief. It has since become a major festival and tourist attraction in Lagos. Eyo masquerades can be seen mainly in Lagos Island (Isale Eko) during times of celebrations.

Eyo masqueraders are unique for their characteristic head-to-toe white regalia and the decorated wide-brimmed hats of different colors that show which group a particular Eyo belongs to. There are several 
versions of the history of Eyo—some claim it originated from Ijebuland (in southwest Nigeria) as a result of the marriage of a King of Lagos to an Ijebu princess, while others say the Eyo deity was sought out by an Oba of Lagos so that his younger sibling could have children. The Eyo masquerade represents the spirits of ancestors and it was originally seen at events like the burial or coronation of an Oba or high chief. It has since become a major festival and tourist attraction in Lagos. Eyo masquerades can be seen mainly in Lagos Island (Isale Eko) during times of celebrations.

Eyo masqueraders are unique for their characteristic head-to-toe white regalia and the decorated wide-brimmed hats of different colors that show which group a particular Eyo belongs to. There are several Eyo groups; Eyo Adimu (the most senior Eyo, Black), Eyo Laba (Red), Eyo Oniko (Yellow), Eyo Ologede (Green), Eyo Olokun (White) and Eyo Agere (Purple). Eyo masqueraders always carry a staff called an opambata, which is used to ward off undesirable forces. On the day of the festival, the Eyo masqueraders march out in groups from their Iga (a type of palace) to the Agodo (shrine) and the procession, which is accompanied by drummers, is witnessed by spectators who line the streets.


Activities prohibited during Eyo festival include smoking, riding motorcycles or bicycles, and wearing sandals (visitors are expected to remove their shoes when the masquerades approach). Men and women must leave the head bare during the festival and those carrying umbrellas must leave them unopened.

PHOTO: Lagos International Jazz Festival/Facebook

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Lagos International Jazz Festival

The Lagos International Jazz Festival, known as LIJF, is a three-day festival held during the week of International Jazz Day (April 30). Though it caters first and foremost to jazz musicians and lovers, the festival has been extended to other forms of mainstream music in recent years. Grammy award-winning artists who have performed at LIJF include Lekan Babalola and Jermaine Jackson. The event is usually held at Freedom Park on Lagos Island.

PHOTO: Cosmodammy [CC BY-SA 4.0]/Wikimedia Commons

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Ofala Festival

Ofala Festival is an annual ceremony practiced by Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria. This colorful cultural festival is held at the palace of the Oba (traditional ruler). It’s a celebration of the authority and legitimacy of the ruler and it is usually held on the anniversary of his ascension to the throne or in some places, at the climax of the New Yam Festival, which is the celebration of the year’s harvest. Ofala is an avenue for the traditional ruler to appreciate his subjects’ loyalty and socialize with them. Highlights of the festival include people coming to pay homage to the King with gifts, cultural dances, and local feasts. The Ofala Festival attracts locals and visitors from around the world.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Lagos Theatre Festival

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Lagos Theater Festival

It’s aimed at promoting the presentation of theater in unconventional spaces, enabling theater makers to expand their work to any given arena. The 2019 festival, which took place at Freedom Park, showcased about one hundred performances by more than six hundred artists. Presentations at the festival included Ogun Skugga, an adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s novel, The Man Died.

PHOTO: Ajibola Fasola/Shutterstock

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Ojude Oba

Ojude Oba, which translates to “king’s front yard,” is a cultural festival observed in honor of the Awujale, the paramount ruler of Ijebu-Ode in Nigeria. The festival was first held in 1892 when the Awujale gave land to Muslims to build a mosque. He also offered land to British missionaries where the first church in Ijebu was built. Though the festival started out as a religious festival for Muslims (it is held on the third day of Eid-el-Kabir), it is now observed by most Ijebu people. It attracts tourists due to the extravagant celebrations and partying, including dances by different groups in matching traditional attire. The major attractions at Ojude Oba are the display of horses by warriors, colorful traditional attire worn by various groups, beauty pageants, and music by Nigerian artists such as Ayinde Marshall K1 and Burna Boy.

PHOTO: Ajibola Fasola/Shutterstock Commons

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Rivers State Carnival, also known as Carniriv, is an annual event that showcases the cultural heritage of the people of Rivers State, Nigeria. The Carniriv is unique for its fusion of two different types of carnivals: the traditional, which displays the culture of various indigenous groups in the state and the contemporary, a Caribbean-style carnival. Rivers State, known as the land of a thousand masquerades, is a melting pot of various cultures whose collective heritage produces a rich and entertaining event. The parades at the Carniriv include the Garden City Freestyle Parade, the International Heritage Parade, and the kids’ carnival. The event is held every December and features both local and international musicians.

•By Adejoke Oguntade

•Culled from

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