Blog post #4 – The MaKuYa Traditional Dance and Culture Festival

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Blog #4. Introductory Blog on category – MaKuYa Festival


In 2006-7 we at ADEA along with some other expats working in Mtwara, Tanzania had the idea of a festival, one that celebrated culture and fun.   In 2008, with a brilliant promotional video put together by Nick Long and Lee Blignaut (which I will post when I get my Youtube pay set) that resulted in generous support from the Swiss and Finnish Embassies in Tanzania, ADEA launched the first annual MaKuYa Traditional Culture and Performing Arts Festival in the town (now municipality) of Mtwara. It was (is) an extraordinary event where the MaKuYa team selected, transported, fed, and housed over 500 performs from 25 groups from across the Mtwara region.


The name MaKuYa came from the names of the three participating tribes – the Makonde, the Makua and the Yao. We had a competition, and this name was the winning entry.


The Festival was held in the Nanguada Stadium in the center of town. It had three components. Dance and drum performances staged on the floor of the stadium in front of the bleachers is of primary interest. In an effort to be as authentic as possible, we did not want a raised staged, but performances on the ground as would be stated in the villages. During the first year we had non-stop dancing from morning until evening.


Beyond the dancing we had traditional games where visitors could compete with bows and arrows shooting papier-mâché animals, sling shots using njugu beans to hit metal pan targets, spinning tops (pia), jumping rope (mputa) and playing dindingi (you’ll have to read the future dindingi blog to know what that is).


And thirdly, we had the Traditional Life Banda (hut). This is where we focused on various aspects of traditional life in exhibits hosted by elders, mwenya (similar to a clan a chief) and cultural officers. In these exhibits we showcased masks, life artifacts, mask, and traditional foods (to name a few things).   It was this portion of the festival that morphed into our present MaKuYa Museum.


Thank You – Asante Sana – Ashe Onleng

Douglas – Kupikita – Oloikurrkurr


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