Nine days of ancestral rites
FESTIMA lasts for nine days, with dances from morning to night. It’s a social gathering that includes a community market and cabaret nights featuring storytelling competitions that test the competitors’ eloquence in front of an enthusiastic audience.
The festival was created in 1996 and is the largest event focused on defending the traditional culture of African masks. “This is the heritage of our ancestors and one that must not be lost”, explains KI Léonce, deputy executive secretary of ASAMA, the entity that organises the festival.
This is the meeting point for dozens of African societies from Burkina Faso, Benin, the Ivory Coast, Gambia, Mali, Togo and Senegal. The city of Dédougou is completely transformed and for four days, becomes the epicentre for the dissemination of this cultural expression. Each event attracts almost 100,000 visitors from all over the world. “Masks are part of life. They have the ability to provide food, rain, health and other blessings to society”, the organisation explains, adding, masks are messengers that allow humans to communicate with their ancestors. These masks are therefore a religion. We highlight their value in order to ensure the survival of humanity”.