Soaking in the festive ambience

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When folks come together to celebrate having shared values, or living at close proximity to each other, those of us who have the calling of communicating with symbols are usually occupied with helping to create the appropriate atmosphere for the occasion. There are times when one can sense a feeling of going into autopilot mode around these events, but there are others when it feels like there is a genuinely magical ambience in the air.

In the moments that I have experienced events such as Halloween or Valentine’s Day in communities that are far away from where I live, it seemed like they have become excuses for confectioners to make as much profit as possible out of selling their products. Do we need to be reminded in very simple terms why we set moments aside to acknowledge the fact that we belong to communities?

When I arrived in Zanzibar in late August this year, everyone was in festive mode, celebrating one of the several Eid festivals. Huge crowds would assemble each evening in Forodhani Gardens, where a food market is located. I knew they were there because of the festive occasion, but somehow it reminded me of late nights out on the town in London’s West End or Shoreditch. I took it for granted that it would always be like that.

A week later, I found that Forodhani Gardens was a lot less busy. It took me a while to understand fully that I arrived in Zanzibar during a festive season and that evenings by the seafront didn’t always buzz in the way that I witnessed initially.

I remember Eid Festivals from when I lived in Lagos, but they were not as vibrant as what I saw in Stone Town.  It is intriguing to perceive the unique qualities to be found and appreciated within each culture. These features make a difference to the essence of festive activities, depending on where we find ourselves.