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Mwaka Kogwa Festival 2024

Celebrate the Persian New Year in Zanzibar which has neatly been incorporated into tradition

Dates: late July

Mwaka Kogwa Festival
Mwaka Kogwa Festival

In their calendar, Zanzibar celebrates ‘Mwaka Kogwa’ the traditional Shirazi or Persian New Year. This festival takes place all over the island around the 23rd or 24th of July, but the main events are held in Makunduchi village, in the south of Zanzibar, usually in late July/early August.

Most traditions on this day are meant to attract good luck in the New Year. Of course, the celebration isn't complete without African folk singing, dancing, feasting, and drumming. There is a unique tradition of this festival—a play fight where the village’s men beat each other with banana sticks. During the last century, the weapons for fights were real. During the game, women sing songs about family, love, and felicity dressed in their best clothes. Finally, the mganga (or Swahili healer) ignites the fire and reads a spell, calling happiness and well-being to all residents of the village for the new year. The festival lasts all night accompanied by taarab music, dancing, drums, and Swahili food.

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin