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Karibu Travel and Trade Fair

Every May, travel agents and tour operators converge below Mount Kilimanjaro and the crater of Mt. Meru for the East African travel event of the year. Originally it started to showcase East African tour operators and destinations, the Karibu Travel and Trade Fair has been so successful that its reputation has spread to the travel industry overseas, and each year attendance by exhibitors and visitors far exceeds the former.

The Karibu Travel and Trade Fair takes place in May, and is held in the town of Arusha, just hours away from main safari destinations in Tanzania. Mt. Kilimanjaro, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti are literally on your doorstep. In 2004, over 170 participants from East Africa — lodges, tour and camp operators — displayed their products and met with international visitors to encourage and promote tourism in East Africa.

During the fair, overseas agents and delegates meet with exclusive tour operators, lodge managers, safari guides, and the people who add that special touch to a Tanzanian safari that makes it such a memorable experience. Agents have the opportunity to visit the properties they promote firsthand, and get to know the companies their business supports. The Karibu Travel and Trade Fair allows visiting delegates the opportunity to experience the warm hospitality of East Africa while networking and expanding business contacts at the same time — an irresistible combination.

For more information, please visit Karibu Fair

The whole of East Africa in one place, at one time…

Mwaka Kogwa

‘Mwaka Kogwa’ is the traditional Shirazi or Persian New Year celebrations that take place in Zanzibar and although the festival has its origins in the Zoastrian religion, the Zanzibaris have certainly taken it to heart. Despite the festival being celebrated around the island, the village of Makunduchi, on southern Unguja, is the key focus of the ritual events and each year a large crowd gathers to attend the celebration.

Together with the usual singing, dancing, feasting and drumming that goes with all East African festivals, Mwaka Kogwa includes specific rituals destined to bring good luck in the New Year. To initiate the celebration, a play fight takes place and all the men of the village beat each other to vent their aggressions from the past year. Real weapons were used in the past but now banana sticks are preferred because they are less violent. As they do this, the women of the village dress up in their best clothes and proceed throughout the village and the fields, singing traditional songs about family, love and joy. Then, the mganga, or traditional healer, lights a ritual hut on fire and reads which way the smoke is burning to determine the village’s prosperity in the coming year. Finally there is a large feast in which all guests are welcomed and considered as a sign of happiness and prosperity.

Traditional Swahili food is accompanied by taarab music, and on the beaches the drums and dancing continue long into the night.

Mwaka Kogwa takes place every year around the 23rd or 24th of July, but if you’re planning to time your visit to attend the celebrations, check with your travel agent to verify the date and for any further details.

Eid al-Fitr

Eid al-Fitr (in Kiswahili also called ‘Idi’ or ‘Sikukuu,’ which means ‘celebration’) is the Muslim holiday that signifies the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It is without a doubt that it is the central holiday of Islam, and a major event throughout Tanzania, but especially observed on the Swahili Coast and the Zanzibar Archipelago. Throughout Ramadan, Muslim men and women fast from sunrise to sunset, only taking meager food and drink after dark. The dates for Eid al-Fitr vary according to the sighting of the new moon, but as soon as it is observed the fasting ends and four days of feasting and festivities begin.

After dawn prayers on the first morning of Eid al-Fitr, the celebrations begin. Family members and friends come together to exchange gifts and special alms, called zakat al-Fitr, are given to the poor. Families walk in the streets, the children showing off their new clothes, and often the festivities are accompanied by traditional Swahili taarab music and much dancing.

If you would like to visit Tanzania during Eid al-Fitr, please note that the dates of the Islamic holiday change each year. Contact your travel agent to find out when to travel. In Zanzibar’s Stone Town, the best places to observe the festivities are the Mnazi Mmoja grounds opposite the National Museum or at the Kariakoo fair grounds near the Post Office.

Eid al-Haj

Eid al-Haj (also called Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Kebir) is the Islamic festival of the annual pilgrimage, or haj, to Mecca. It is the second major holiday of Islam and a three-day festival of feasting and celebration in all Muslim communities in Tanzania. Eid al-Haj remembers Ibrahim (Abraham in the western tradition) and his son Ishmael (Isaac in the western tradition), who was almost sacrificed to God in obedience with his commandments. For Muslims, this holiday is about sacrifice, faith, and honouring the prophet Ibrahim.

Along the predominantly Muslim Swahili Coast, and especially on the islands of Zanzibar, each family sacrifices a goat or sheep to commemorate the sacrifice. A third of the meat is given to the poor; another third to family and friends, and the final third is kept by the family to be served in a lavish meal. Gifts are exchanged, prayers are said and sermons are attended, and after family and friends have visited each other the celebration culminates in a feast. Any family members or friends who made the pilgrimage to Mecca that year are welcomed home with much rejoicing. During the night there is live Swahili taarab music and much rejoicing.

As with Eid al-Fitr, if you would like to visit Tanzania during Eid al-Haj, please note that the dates of the Islamic holiday change each year. Contact your travel agent to find out when to travel.

Sauti za Busara Swahili Music and Cultural Festival

‘Sauti za Busara’ means ‘voice of wisdom’ in Kiswahili, and this annual festival of Swahili music attracts the best musicians and performers in the region. Held in Zanzibar’s Stone Town, concerts are performed in a range of traditional musical traditions, from Swahili taarab and ngoma to more contemporary genres that mix African, Arab and Asian traditions. Most concerts are held in the Old Fort adjacent to Forodhani Gardens and the House of Wonders, a scenic location perfect for soaking up a bit of Swahili culture.

Held annually during the second weekend of February, the Sauti za Busara takes places over three days and features talent from all over East Africa with performances in music, theatre and dance. The best of Swahili musical traditions are displayed and enjoyed, with an emphasis on past traditions, present interpretations and future collaborations between artists and their communities.

Workshops for musicians, which take place in the Old Customs House, encourage traditional skills and genre fusion in composition.

For more information, contact Busara Promotions, Box 3635, Zanzibar, Tanzania, or e-mail busara@zanlink.com / busarapromotions@lycos.com and visit the Dhow Countries Musical Academy at www.zanzibarmusic.org.

Zanzibar Cultural Festival

Held throughout the Zanzibar Archipelago, the annual Zanzibar Cultural Festival showcases the diverse traditions and celebrations of the region. Performers come from various countries around Africa, but Swahili culture is mostly represented. Zanzibari taarab music and traditional dances are performed by a rich ensemble of cultural troupes from Tanzania and abroad. Arts and crafts that celebrate local culture are exhibited and enjoyed.

Around the archipelago, locals celebrate the cultural festival with workshops, cultural events and performances held in shifting locales. Street carnivals in Stone Town, small fairs and canoe races also take place. On the northern island of Pemba, the festival marks the annual bull fight, a remnant of Portuguese presence on the islands, where trained bulls prance after unarmed men in a humorous and festive version of the Iberian spectacle.

The Zanzibar Cultural Festival occurs each year in July, directly after the international Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) Festival of the Dhow Countries. For more details please visit www.ziff.or.tz or contact the organisers at ziff@ziff.or.tz

Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) of the Dhow Countries

Each year ZIFF organises and runs the Festival of the Dhow Countries, which draws participants and visitors to Zanzibar from around the world.

The Festival of the Dhow Countries celebrates and promotes the unique culture that grew as a result of Indian Ocean trade and the wooden sailing dhow. All nations in the shadow of the diaspora are included in the celebration, ranging from Africa mainland to the Indian Ocean. Contemporary artists, musicians, cultural troupes, photographers and film makers from the dhow countries are showcased and their work is promoted, discussed, awarded and explored.

The highlight of the festival is the Zanzibar International Film Festival itself, a film competition that draws prestigious entries from the dhow countries of the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The competition is judged by a panel of international figures and attracts more than one hundred entries in its separate categories. Film screenings take place around Stone Town, in various historical landmarks. Music, drama and dancing performances also take place around the island and attract a large audience. During the festival, workshops, seminars, conferences and a variety of cultural and arts-related programs are open to the public, with specific forums to attract and creatively empower women and children.

The Festival of the Dhow Countries is Tanzania’s major annual cultural event and one of the only eight major festivals in sub-Saharan Africa. It occurs every year in the first two weeks of July. To find out more about ZIFF and the Festival of the Dhow Countries, visit their website at www.ziff.or.tz or e-mail ziff@ziff.or.tz.



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