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Festivals in Africa that will light up your world!

Let’s get into the rich and interesting cultures in different parts of Africa in this blog! The traditional beliefs and practices of African people are highly diverse. They consist of various groups of people interlinked through elements they share .In the heart of the sacred culture of Africa lies various festivals and we will shed light on a few of them in this blog.

The Meskel Festival of Ethiopia

In the Ethiopian calendar, a date that every individual devoid of tribe sets aside is for the‘Meskel’ which is a two-day festival which usually commences on the 26th of September. The motive behind this festival is in ‘Finding the True Cross’ which developed from the 4thcentury. This follows an exclusive calendar the natives of Ethiopia follow distinct to the rest of the world. You will normally find the celebrations happening in the heart of the ‘Meskel Square ‘located in Addis Ababa, the capital of the country. Though the festival originates from an orthodox religion (Christian) which is aimed at commemorating the discovery of the True Cross during Jesus’s crucifixion, we see Ethiopian reinterpretation, infusing the country's rich native culture to celebrate this day in their own way. The True Cross Meskel celebration is considered the most significant holiday in Ethiopia. It is marked by the natives dressing in a variety of coloured robes making their way to ‘The Demera’ which is a large bonfire found Addis Ababa. Religious leaders from far and near gather where music, chanting and interpretative instruments such as the drums and others are played. Believers of the faithobtain the ashes after the bonfire dies out and mark the sign of the cross which is believed to cancel their sins. The direction of the smoke they believe is a huge symbolic indicator of the future path they are to take. In the concluding aspects of Meskel, the mass breaking of the feast is observed by eating injera which is a flatbread considered as Ethiopia’s national dish.

The Benin Vodoo Festival

The Benin Vodoo festival is celebrated on the 10th of January each year to re-integrate the traditions of Voodoo which is practiced by a large population of people in Benin. It is an official holiday in Benin. Vodoo is however practiced in other parts of Africa such as Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria. The Benin Vodoo festival is celebrated throughout the country but more particularly by the people in the city of Ouidah. It was founded by a Benin President called Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo whose aim was to magnify and bring back the basis of African spirituality which was deemed as backward by colonists. During the festival various deities such as Kokou The Warrior and Mami Wata goddess of Water are honoured, and many ancestorial cults are practiced. This festival is known to draw people of African descent who seek to discover and learn about the heritage and traditions of their ancestors who were displaced in other parts of the world during the slave trade. This year’s Vodoo festival was special because it marked the 29th anniversary of the festival

The Sphinx festival of Egypt

Heading to the North of Africa engrossed with a wide array of culture, we now delve deeper into Egypt with history going as far back as the beginning of civilisation. Embedded in the rich culture of the Egypt lies the Sphinx festival which takes place in the Red Sea resort town of El Gouna. This began just over a decade ago in 2009 dedicated and held at the foot of one of the most widely visited places in Egypt which is the Sphinx or [ابو الهول (ʾabū el-hūl)]. This relic can be found near the three pyramids in Giza. This festival is celebrated annually normally taking place between October and December and lasts usually for five days.

The festival is widely aimed at preserving the Egyptian folklore, or [فلكلور (fulkulūr)], in terms of traditional and popular arts, such as folk dances, traditional songs, modern and classical songs, and other events. Indigenous music such as the Zar music and drums are exhibited as well as Saidi music using Egyptian traditional instruments such as [ربابة(rabābah)], which is one of the oldest ever instruments in the world. There are also traditional performances such as the skirt dance, or [تنورة (tannūrah)], performed by the famous Mahmoud Reda's troupe, and other shows of Egyptian belly dance, or [رقص شرقي(raʾṣ šarʾī)]. The festival relates to ancient Egyptian heritage that aims to educate people about early civilisation in early Egypt whilst showing appreciation for artists and creatives alike.

The Kuomboka Festival of Zambia

Th Kuomboka Festival is an ancient cultural custom which signifies survival and is thought to be around 300 years old. It is celebrated by the Lozi people of Zambia and marks the movement of the King from the palace in the flooded plains to the palace on higher land. The literal meaning of Kuomboka is “ to get out of water” and the festival is celebrated at the end of every rainy season . The Kuombok Festival is the biggest festival celebrated in the country. A wide array of cuture is displayed during thie festival, notably the vibrant colors the chief and his enterouge are clud in and the chanting and drumming as they board the Nalikwanda, a gigantic black and white ceremonial barge. A giant elephant statue and a fire are kept blazing on the barge to show observers that the king is in good health. This festival is a great way to witness the richness of Zambian culture.

We hope you did not only enjoy reading this blog but also got to learn about a few festivals celebrated across Africa. Till next time!

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