Mwaka Kogwa is a celebration held in Makunduchi on the island of Ugunja, Zanzibar in Tanzania. It marks the arrival of the new year or “Nairuz” according to the Shiraz calendar and is best known for its infamous banana stick battle. The mock battle takes place between men to vent their aggression from the past year.
This year, the celebration took place on the 17th of July. Living nearby, I took the opportunity, with some friends, to see this with my own eyes and snap some pictures.
The intensity of the fight and energy that could be felt is difficult to retranscribe in pictures. Finding yourself close to the battle, or even in the middle of it, will inevitably result in banana stick slaps.
Contenders only fight if both are armed with their sticks, otherwise they stop immediately. Accidents happen, and rare moments of anger can be spotted. But fights usually end with a smile, laughter or respectul handshake.