The Gambia can boast of a rich and diverse music culture owing to a multi ethnic and cultural society. More…
Simba or Zimba
What is a masquerade?
Masquerade or mask is an individual dressed with masks to resemble an animal or some scary being. Masquerades are made with any of or a combination of clothes, papers, leaves, bark of tress, grass, horns of animals, sacks with decorated materials etc. Masquerades are more traditional amongst some ethnic groups e.g mandinka and Jola and with others like the wollof, masquerades are connected with celebrations. Mandinkas for example regard the kankurang as protectors of newly circumcised youths from evil spirits.
Masquerades which speak in deep voices and communicate their message in proverbs and riddles are important in our community because they:
-serve as entertainment for the public and for gracing occasions during certain times
-Masquerades assist in maintaining discipline and protecting members of the society from evil spirits and witches.
- Masquerades also serve as links between the human world and the spiritual world. During the time of making offerings and pouring of libation to the spiritual world, they become extremely functional for which great fear and respect are accorded to them by ordinary beings.
This type of masquerade is associated with the wollof, a majority ethnic group in both The Gambia and Senegal . It is mainly used to entertain the public during celebrations.
The Zimba which pretends to be a lion, use materials like a piece of cloth round the waist, decorates its body with charm and amulets and red clay to serve as powder. Most often, it is used to mark the end of a festival.
The appearance of the Zimba is marked by drumming and dancing.
About the video: This video of the Zimba dance was performed for Sean Sloan at Njawara village as a welcome from the community. Sean worked on a Gambian Agro-ecologic village project research in the area back in 2004.
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