keskiviikko 22. elokuuta 2012

Ramadan kareem and Eid mubarak!

I'm a bit late with this one, since it's already the last day of Eid. But what can you do - first I wanted to experience it all, and then I was on a holiday.

This was my first Ramadan in Zanzibar. I was not quite sure of what to expect, and I was positively surprised. First of all, it's the most relaxing and quiet time. Usually I have to sleep with a lot of music coming through the windows, but during Ramadan I could finally sleep. Well, if you don't count in this tradition called dufu:

These musical groups are in the streets every night. The idea is to wake people up for daku, the late night meal which helps a lot when you're fasting. In this particular video you can also find out what happens if the drum brakes!

Every evening after magharib (west, since it happens during sunset) prayer calls people gather at home to have an iftar (meal) together. Later on during Ramadan it's usual to get invitations to other homes. For example, we ended up eating at family and friends on 8 nights.

When the end of Ramadan draws closer, everyone becomes a shopaholic and shops are open late at night. The tradition is that on the first day of Eid, everybody has a new set of clothes. Children get 4 sets of new clothes, one for each day of Eid. This is important, since it's gonna be the number one subject of discussion when the schools start again...

And then, finally, after 30 days of fasting, comes Eid. On the first day, you're supposed to meet family and friends.

Here we are, me and Khamis in our Eid clothes.
In the evening, children are the ones who have the most fun! All the little girls are dressed up and super happy. There's a huge ground full of stalls selling toys and candy. There is amusement, funny photography... and it's so dark that the teenagers have a possibility to date and meet. Unfortunately, due to the darkness, I cannot provide any photos.

Now everything is getting normal again. First day in the office. I already miss the meals when everyone sits together to eat the most delicious foods and milk tea.


Sufi tradition in Zanzibar – Maulidi ya homu

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Now it’s Ramadan month. But I will get to that later (with more experience about the subject). This time I want to tell about a performance I got to see twice just before Ramadan, which was lucky since the group doesn’t perform during the holy month.

Maulid ya home, sufian ceremony in Zanzibar
This sufian ceremony, Maulidi ya homu, is performed by men who chant, sing, dance and play drums. Songs tell about the sufian founder and about God. The whole experience is almost hypnotising as the ceremony starts from slower chanting growing into bigger and more animated performance.

After one of the performances, audience was asked what did they feel. Love and joy was the usual answer.

Maulid ya home performance in Zanizbar, Stone Town

This particular group has been practicing for long, as the skill goes from father to son. But not only – anyone interested is free to join the group. Maulidi ya homu group has rehersals every night, and the neighbours and others who are intrersted are free to come and see.

The cereomny has had some changes during time. Some say it used to be more serious, as now it’s actually very entertaining.

The group has some sponsors and gets paid for performing outside their own madressa (religious school), so the future of Maulid ya home looks bright at the moment!

Contact us to see a performance!

ZIFF has taken over Zanzibar!

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I’m happy to start this blog by writing about ZIFF, Zanzibar International Film Festivals. Our office in the Old Fort happens to be in the heart of all action, so I’ve got a close look on what’s going on.

Movie screening in the Old Fort

Firstly, this festival is huge. Besides that there are film screenings the whole day every day for 9 days, there are also music perfomances every night. So if someone decides to come next year to ZIFF, I’m sure you will find enough to see and do.

As a Finnish person, it was a pleasure to get a chance to watch Mika Kaurismäki’s Mama Africa with the mostly African audience. Besides for certain teenagers with their loud mobile phones, there was a great concentration and apllases in the high points of the movie.

Our office has never before been a more interesting place to hang out. It’s been used as a VIP lounge and a press room, so there have been people from all over the world, especially from Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa. And we got a chance to get some Hollywood glamour from the We The Party -movie promoters Mario Van Peebles and Michael Cohen.

Khamis from Colors of Zanzibar, actor-director Mario Van Peebeles and designer Farouque at the film forum

This year there is also lots of excitement around the local movie productions and there was a discussion forum on how to make Zanzibar a more appealing filming location and also how to boost local movie industry. Did you know that the Dar es Salaam movie industry, called Bongowood, has been growing extremely fast? There is nowadays a new movie almost every day!

The thing is, movie industry is still in a very early stage here in Tanzania as there is no proper education provided in Tanzania, and funding is difficult to get. The money comes now from DVD sales, but the DVD prices are very low to avoid piracy. But now a pay-TV called Zuku has promised to stand up and start broadcasting local movies.

Here is one small example of how the local movies here look like:

So this years’ festival has been great, and there is still more to come on saturday and sunday. Those of you who didn’t make it this year, make it next year then!

Colors of Zanzibar provides special packages made for ZIFF visitors, and there is always a possibilty to have a tailor-made holiday including ZIFF. And you East Africans, you should definetely visit this and enjoy the culture of your own district!

Shilole performing in the Old Fort