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How Festival of Masks Ivory Coast Ended Years of Civil Strife

Festival of masks Ivory Coast
Written by See Africa Today

The festival of masks Ivory Coast is as important as air is because it brings people together –it ended years of civil strife in Zahibo Village, Man region.

This traditional African mask festival in Ivory Coast has over the years won admiration for uniting an area rocked by conflict.

The three-day festival proved that cultural linkages may help unite a population marred by tribal civil strife since 2002.

See Africa Today sheds special focus on this festival.

What is the Festival of Masks Ivory Coast?

Festival of Masks Ivory Coast

Festival of Masks Ivory Coast. Photo/matzuri

The festival of masks Ivory Coast is also known as the Goli mask dance. It is straightforward and takes shaking a leg as its cardinal point.

It is big, particularly in the region of Man which was once a hotbed of tribal-fuelled violence.

The three-day event is held in December every year and its intent is to appease the spirits. A legend goes that the spirits live in the forests and in the village.

Locals believe that the spirits bless, assist and protect the villagers.

The festival of masks Ivory Coast is intense, and rigorous dancing competitions go down. They are held between villages in Zahibo located in the Central-western part of Ivory Coast.

Initially, every village would hold its festival of masks Ivory Coast. But, it all ground to a halt after violence rocked them.

This led to the festival being held in Zahibo where dancers from 10 villages converge.

What Does Mask Symbolize?

Masks are the centrepiece of the festival of masks Ivory Coast. Ideally, masks are often used to depict demons, ancestors, or other imagined figures.

The existence of a certain spirit in a specific mask is a significant factor in its existence. And in Ivory Coast’s scenario, they are a depiction of supernatural powers in the name of ancestors.

Subsequently, there are two kinds of masks at the festival. It is not uncommon to walk to one village and find a different mask from what you saw in another village.

Usually, human face masks known as “kpan” and disc-faced masks known as “kple kple” are common in villages where the festival goes down.

Why Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) treasures the Goli mask dance

Dancing at the Goli mask dance in Ivory Coast – Courtesy

How is Festival of Masks Ivory Coast Celebrated?

Women are phenomenal when it comes to the festival of masks Ivory Coast. They are the charming factor with beautiful songs and colourful dances.

They represent and guard Ivory Coast customs when they sing and dance. You will see a lot of women fanning the masks with scarves and dancing joyously.

However, Ivory Coast tribes understand that Kple Kple masks are exclusively called in the time of danger or during funeral ceremonies.

Men are not left out of the dance. They will have nettings on their legs and dries leaves to represent a skirt around their waists. The look ends with a mask.

The dance has been hailed for uniting the people of Ivory Coast who fought for years as a result of divisive politics.

They say that through the festival, they realised that though they are from different communities, they share so much in common.

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About the author

See Africa Today

Pharis Kinyua is the editor of See Africa Today. With over seven years of experience in digital media, he has a soft spot for African tours and travel. His drive is to tell the rest of the world what Africa offers, the best accommodation facilities, national parks, culture, shopping malls and best airline deals to travel to Africa

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