With more than 3000 ethnic groups and over 2000 different languages, the continent of Africa is the very representation of cultural diversity. Let’s travel and explore some cultural festivals from various countries across the continent to give you an idea of the immersive and exotic experiences you can expect to encounter when you visit some African countries.
THE GEREWOL FESTIVAL – LATE SEPTEMBER, CHAD
This is one of the most interesting cultural experiences a traveler can experience. Every year the nomadic Wodaabe tribes come together at the end of the rainy season, usually during the last week of September, for what has been labelled as the world’s most competitive male beauty pageant! Tribes gather on foot, to come together to dance, feast, and most importantly – attract a lover or mate. The men spend hours preparing for the Yakke dancing in which three female judges each pick a winner who will carry acclaim and fame for years. The Wodaabe are polygamous, and it is the women who take the lead in partnerships.
ABU SIMBEL FESTIVAL – FEBRUARY AND OCTOBER, EGYPT
This festival takes place twice a year on the 22nd of October and February. The magic of this festival is in the timing because at these two times of the year, the sun aligns with the entrance of the Abu Simbel temples honouring Ramses II and his wife, Queen Nefertari, to illuminate two of the three statues within – leaving Ptah, the god of the underworld, in darkness. The festival is celebrated by accompanying traditional Nubian dances, live music, and plenty of street food outside the venue – and it might be one of the coolest additions to an Egyptian holiday.
MAITISONG FESTIVAL – APRIL, GABORONE, BOTSWANA
This festival is in its 30th year running and it is a favorite annual event among locals and international visitors likewise. Music is one of the biggest attractions, with gospel, kwaito, and Afro-pop as some of the styles on showcase. The event hosts both free and paid events.
HERMANUS WHALE FESTIVAL – LATE SEPTEMBER, SOUTH AFRICA
The stars of this festival are the migrating Southern Right Whales, seeing as they are the main focus of this South African event. Hermanus is renowned as the best land-based whale watching destination in the world, and each year some 100,000 visitors flock to the seaside town to experience the whales, enjoy some delicious food and enjoy great music with a festive atmosphere. It is also a great festival for the whole family, with kid’s entertainment, street parades, live shows, film, music, local arts and crafts etc
FESTIVAL OF THE DHOW COUNTRIES – JULY, ZANZIBAR
This is often described as East Africa’s largest cultural event, the Zanzibar International Film Festival, or Festival of the Dhow Countries, brings together the arts and cultures of several East African countries. While the film competition is the main event, it attracts an enormous variety of cultural experiences from music, theatre and performing arts, to workshops, seminars and conferences. The festival lies amidst various beautiful and historical venues near the seafront in Stone Town.