Africa, like no other continent, has the most colorful festivals.
There was no exception for the festival of masks and arts – Festima.
Costumed troupes come from all over Burkina Faso, as well as from other West African countries, to take part in this seven-day festival in the city of Dedougou.
Each group of actors consists of musicians and dancers dressed in special costumes with masks.
This festival was founded to preserve the ancient cultural traditions that still remained in Africa.
In the modern world, all these traditions are lost and become less significant.
Therefore, students in Burkina Faso decided to do something to preserve, at least somehow, the cultural heritage that they inherited from their ancestors.
They started the festival by creating the Mask Protection Association (ASAMA) in 1996. The festival grew from year to year, covering participants from other countries and increasing in duration from 4 to 7 days.
The main performance at the festival is the performance of dancers in masks accompanied by music of hand drums, whistles and balafons.
The festival is becoming more and more popular among residents of other continents, therefore there is sometimes a “translator” at the festival in order to explain the meaning of the dance.
During the Festival, you can attend history and culture seminars, watch and listen to story tales and buy something as a souvenir in the market.
The event attracts about 100 thousand people of which more than 2 thousand are foreign tourists.
The festival is held annually from the end of February to the beginning of March (approximately from February 24 to March 3).
All costumes are real works of art created from natural materials: leaves, straw, feathers, tree bark. Some masks are quite heavy and their length reaches one and a half meters.
For centuries, masked dances have been part of a variety of ceremonies: weddings, funerals, harvesting and other events in the lives of local people.
Now, tourists can dance during parties from 10 pm and until 3 am so-called “Local Dances”, where you can join the crowd and show your best dance moves.
To restore your energy after an exhausting dancing you should eat properly. For the guests of the festival, local restaurants and cafes are cooking their best specialties.
It’s time to taste chicken with peppers and tomatoes. Or more exotic local cuisine.
And what kind of tourist, having been to Africa, will not buy a handmade souvenir for his or her friends and relatives? Of course, you must visit the local market and buy a souvenir mask.
There are some warnings for you. First of all, don’t forget that the city in which the festival takes place is very small itself, its population is only 39 thousand people.
And you will have to get from the capital of Burkina Faso Ouagadougou, where the airport is located.
You will have to suffer a little, because the way from the capital to Dedougou is not a short way. During your trip you will spend about 5 hours and travel a path of 230 km.
The bus shuttles between the cities every day, the cost of the ticket is only 8 dollars.
Although the country of Burkina Faso itself is translated from local languages as “the homeland of honest people”, you should consult the embassy or travel agency regarding the security of your stay in this particular region.
As a rule, this part of the country is safe for tourists, but, as in other African countries, armed conflicts occur in some areas.
In general, recommendations for visiting the festival remain the same as for other African countries.
If it is possible try to vaccinate yourself against the most common local diseases, and don’t forget to take your comfortable shoes for dancing, so you won’t sit on the bench, but take an active part in the celebration of dancing and fun festival.