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In pictures: Portugal's lingering influence in Zanzibar

Pemba, a part of the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar, just lately held a week-long pageant that exposed cultural influences courting again to the 16th Century when Portugal colonised the Spice Islands, writes Catherine Tilke.

Participants performing a martial arts dance

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Catherine Tilke

Probably the most highlights of the Pemba Bonanza Competition is “the kirumbizi”, a dance-cum-martial artwork, which has its origins in guerrilla coaching towards Portuguese rule.

Portugal colonised portions of the East African coast within the early 1500s – and Zanzibar remained a part of its empire for roughly 200 years.

Khamis Ali Juma, from the Pemba museum, says Pujini village – the place the pageant used to be basically held – used to be one of the vital first spaces to be settled by way of the Portuguese.

Men and women line up and take turns to 'fight' with batons while a band plays folk music

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Catherine Tilke

Ladies additionally participate in kirumbizi fights, which contain the usage of batons with musicians accompanying the contestants.

Shoka Hamad, one of the vital match organisers, says that the sport is a fight of energy and staying power.

“Whilst you step into the hoop, you are taking on challengers till you’re feeling drained – the winner is the one who displays essentially the most staying power,” he says.

“The purpose is not to hit or harm your opponent, however sing their own praises your pace and agility. It is conceivable that gamers would possibly get hit, however this is not the target of the dance.”

Bulls additionally function prominently within the pageant.

Bullfighting

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Catherine Tilke

Bullfighting used to be presented by way of the Portuguese, nevertheless it differs from the Spanish model as the purpose isn’t to kill the animal, however to tire it out and entertain the gang.

There’s a trust that the spectacle brings rain and a excellent “mpunga” (rice) harvest, and so historically bullfights are held from time to time of drought.

Bullfighting

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Catherine Tilke

There has additionally been a romantic component to bullfights, with younger girls encouraging their fans to participate to turn out their bravery – even if this occurs much less so at the moment.

A girl would make a selection a brand new kanga (a vibrant material in most cases wrapped across the waist) for the combat and take a seat on a platform subsequent to the world to observe.

If her beau were given throughout the combat unscathed, she would give him her kanga to stay as a trophy.

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A donkey procession thru most of the island’s villages could also be crucial a part of the pageant.

Donkeys riders procession

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Catherine Tilke

The riders put on conventional get dressed and raise umbrellas, trotting in the back of a brass band.

Donkeys are used for delivery and farming and their prominence within the pageant highlights their vital position at the island. The umbrellas also are concept to inspire a excellent wet season.

Participants riding donkeys

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Catherine Tilke

From donkeys to bicycles as cyclists compete in a race from Mkoani, Pemba’s port the city, north throughout the nation-state.

The 87km route is gruelling- it climbs the island's highest slope and takes most competitors over 2 hours to complete

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Catherine Tilke

The 87km (54 miles) direction is gruelling and riders will have to climb the island’s easiest slope. It takes maximum competition greater than two hours to finish.

And they’re greeted at Vumawimbi seashore with a lot fanfare and dancing.

The cyclists finish at Vumawimbi beach with much fanfare. Here, women dance dressed in colourful kangas.

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Catherine Tilke

Alongside, men wearing white kikoi dance to entertain those who turned out at the finish line

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Catherine Tilke

The ladies put on the kangas and the lads put on white kikoi (a woven sarong) as they entertain the crowds on the end line.

The island’s first marathon used to be additionally held as a part of the festivities.

Runners

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Catherine Tilke

And wrapping all of it up is the “ngalawa” boat race. Ngalawas are conventional dug-out canoes of Swahili design with sails utilized by fishermen off Zanzibar.

Wrapping up the festival is an ngalawa boat race. Such boats are a typical Swahili design- here, a man climbs the mast to unfurl the sail which, if all goes according to plan, will send his crew gliding into first place over the finish line.

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Catherine Tilke

All footage by way of Catherine Tilke

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