Have you ever attended a male beauty contest? If not, the Gerewol festival is what you should look out for. The week-long Mbororo tribe festival features dancing, racing and for the fortunate, finding soulmates.
The African continent is known to the rest of the world as a continent that prides itself on its strong traditional culture. In most African countries especially in the Sub-Sahara, our great–great grandfathers wore animal skins and hunted lions. While there are some tribes that still live in such a fascinating context, most tribes one way or the other have changed from living under these conditions that prevailed in the past. In order to commemorate our African traditions that appear to slowly trickle out of the society, most countries have special days whereby they perform various cultural activities. So if you are planning to travel to any of these countries and want to learn more about their traditions, these are the most appropriate dates to schedule such trips.
The Kingdom of Swaziland, Umhlanga Reed dance
The most famous traditional event in Southern Africa and probably in the entire continent is the Swaziland Umhlanga also known as the Reed dance. This event takes place around the last week of August or the first week of September, it is challenging to know the exact dates in advance as they are derived from ancestral astrology. The Reed dance is where young unmarried yet to be pregnant girls gather at the Queens mother’s village (Indlovukazi) which is currently in Ludzidzini. The eight-day event is mainly secretive but it culminates with a huge two days dance open to the public.
The Kingdom of Lesotho, Morija arts and cultural festival
Lesotho, one of the two kingdoms in Africa, hosts a cultural show known to the locals as Macufe. On the first weekend of October, the majority of the country descends to Morija for a weekend packed with various traditional dances. This cultural festival was commenced mainly to showcase the Sesotho culture and various cultural handicrafts made by local artisans. This celebration coincides with the Independence Day for the Kingdom, the 4th of October.
Chad, The Gerewol Festival
The Gerewol festival is dubbed by many as the best traditional festival in Africa. The week-long Mbororo tribe festival features dancing, racing and for the fortunate, finding soulmates. The festival is known for the spectacular way local young Mbororo men decorate themselves in search of a better half. The Gerewol festival usually occurs towards the end of September. So if you’re in search of a way to experience first-hand African traditions that were at once performed in ancient times, look no further.
Egypt, Abu Simbel Festival
The Abu Simbel Festival is a bi-annual event that occurs on the 22nd February and the 22nd October. These dates are believed to correspond to the days Ramses II ascended to the throne and his birthday respectively. Perhaps equally important is the fact that on these days the sun illuminates three of the four statues at the back of the Great Temple. The statues are dedicated to deities Ra, Ptah, Amun and Hathor with Ptah being the only one to escape the illumination. The festival brings about various tourists to witness this solar phenomenon and the local Aswan people perform traditional dances.
Mali, Crossing of cattle
Diafarabe in Mali has gained fame for its annual event where thousands of cattle herds are driven across the Niger river to greener pastures south of the river. This event usually occurs in late December or early August. The exact date for this ritual depends on the water levels when levels are just perfect for cows to cross the villagers arrange for a welcome celebration for the Fula herders. The crossing of herds is more significant to herd boys and their families as it signals time for the reunion. The ceremonial arrival of Fula herders culminates with a competition where locals select the finest fattest cow.
The Pan-African Historical Theatre Festival commonly as Panafest is a biennial event held in Ghana meant to further Pan-Africanism and the development of African continent and the diaspora. This is perhaps the only cultural event that aims to celebrate all African traditions in one setting and ensure that African history is preserved and represented in the most accurate way among its objectives. The festival has a range of activities from emancipation day commemoration to musical performances. If you want to experience this fascinating festival be sure to have your flight to Ghana booked for the last week of July.
The African continent is graced with many traditional festivals, and the aforementioned form just a small portion of what the motherland has to offer. There are high chances that whichever African country you want to visit there is an intriguing festival that will resonate with you.