Culture | The Carnival in Guinea-Bissau

Carnival is a very common tradition in Portuguese speaking countries. Everyone knows the famous carnival in Rio de Janeiro, but in African countries that speak Portuguese there are also other very popular carnivals such as in Guinea Bissau.

Picture : Ashia Katarina and Ashley Delgado Soares

The city is known for its annual Carnival that takes place every year in February but this year in March. It is one of the largest carnivals in Africa. Every year, Bissau receives a wave of tourists arriving from all regions of the country, but also from other countries and who come to see it. In fact it is a grandiose popular manifestation and very festive.

However, carnival is an originally European tradition, it appears in ancient Greece in the years 600 to 520 a.c. where they realised cults in thanks to the gods for the fertility of the ground and the production. Later on it was a celebration adopted by the Catholic Church in 590 AD, a period marked by “goodbye to the flesh” or the Latin “meat is worth” giving rise to the word “carnival”. But in this country there is a mix of unique social, cultural and artistic identities. This celebration lasts 3 weeks and celebrates the union between all the ethnic groups of the country and, at the same time, the cultural differences between them.

That’s why every ethnic group in the country is preparing for this demonstration. We build an allegorical car with many colors in connection with a theme and until the party these cars are hidden and the preparation takes place in secret, to avoid rivalries and plagiarism.

Children also have their place at this party, every year they make masks with mud that they paint to show their creativity and to participate in a contest during the carnival. Some masks are scary, others are colorful, but these gigantic works are true works of art.

In addition the ethnic groups want to present and represent their traditions, dances, cultures, customs, clothing, eating habits, … For a few days, Bissau lives to the rhythms of the Bijagós drums, the Ajamat bombolongs and the Balantas songs throughout the night.

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So it is the best time to go on a vacation to Guinea and discover the whole culture of the country and each ethnic group that is part of the Guinean population.

Written by : Pucurutcha Stella

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