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ZIFF Festival of the Dhow Countries 2006 Overview  

This year’s ZIFF-Festival of the Dhow Countries film programme aims to return to Zanzibar the joy, elation, and sense of wonder that only a cinema experience in a large gathering can bring. Screening locations will include intimate village settings, and the scenic and beautiful outdoor Old Fort amphitheatre.


Melvin Van Peebles – Legendary filmmaker who is often referred to as the “godfather of Independent and African-American Cinema”


“L’Appel des Arenes”/ Wrestling Grounds, directed by Cheikh Ndiaye


  1. -       Cinema of Pain
  2. -       Zanzibar Focus
  3. -       Film Confronts Soccer


At ZIFF, for the very first time in East Africa, we will host the world famous Quarto Prima Vista music quartet from France. On the 16th July they will present Murnau’s classic NOSFERATU, and on the 18th July Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL.

Slave-Route Project  

UNESCO in conjunction with RFI and ZIFF is hosting an international Roundtable event on the Slave Route Project. (20th July).


This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the death of Africa’s most famous cameraman and photojournalist, Mohammed Amin. He is perhaps most remembered for his coverage of the devastating 1984 famine in Ethiopia, through which he mobilised the entire world into the greatest act of giving in the 20th century. As part of this tribute we are going to premiere a biographical documentary about his life, entitled MO & ME.  The tribute will also consist of an exhibition of his photographs and books.


ZIFF will this year host a forum which will open up a new opportunity for filmmakers in our region, to access co-production financing. The aim of the forum that will take place in Zanzibar is to identify feature film projects from East Africa and to help package them and prepare for pitching at the Feature Film-Co Production Forum at Sithengi, South Africa, with the potential of pitching at the co-production market, Cinemart, at the Rotterdam Film Festival in the Netherlands in 2007.


Main workshops.

Film acting workshop by MALICK BOWENS

Filmmaking workshop by KRZYSZTOF ZANUSSI

Film critics workshop by SIGNIS and FIPRESCI

Costume design master class by OUMOU SY

Music and Performing Arts

Music has over the years, become a major component of the ZIFF experience. This year, inspired by the theme of the festival, concerts and groups will travel much further, enveloping as much of the Archipelago as possible, including both of the Islands of Unguja and Pemba.

CONCERTS (among others):

Culture Club of Zanzibar

This is the acclaimed Taarab orchestra of Zanzibar, which encapsulates the unique cultural flavour of Zanzibar. It is in the taraab, so exemplified by this orchestra that we can feel the influences of Arabian, Egyptian, African and Indian music (the latter carried through popular Bollywood film scores).

Les Mangelepa

Over the years this band made up of Congolese musicians has become a veritable classic to several generations of music fans.

Their principal influence has been always been lingala music, but they have developed their own approach to both the benga and rumba styles. Some of their unforgettable tracks include Nyako Konya, Drakula and Ole Ole.

Eddie Bryant and the DCMA

Freddie Bryant, the guitar virtuoso and composer from New York, will perform together with musicians from the DCMA. He is renowned for both his classical and jazz concerts, having performed with such greats as Wynton Marsalis. He has recently concentrated on developing his own Brazilian inspired style.


Ibrahim Khatib, a musician and composer from Palestine, has brought with him his vast musical sensitivity to Zanzibar, where he lives. He has created a totally new approach to incorporating music and instruments from different parts of the world.

Zein L’Abdin

Zein L’Abdin, the famous ud player from Lamu, is also the greatest Swahili musician. Almost single-handedly he has led a major revival of ud playing, once a centuries old tradition, that had almost become a forgotten skill in East Africa.

Uganda Artists

Amongst other Kinobe and the Soul Beat of Africa.

Pato, Abraz &Sylvester, Emma Katya, Lyrical G, Armastrong and Bandango.

Street Performances

Transforming the City (ZART)

This is a project involving actors, musicians, dancers, acrobats, singers, children and any willing participants, where the inspiration is drawn from local culture, traditions, customs, stories and cuisine. The settings will be the squares and streets of the Old Town.

Kunja Dance Theatre

Contemporary dance group from Nairobi.

Theatre from Zambia

Presenting a play entitled “ Death Made Easy”.

Special events

Zanzibar Cultural Festival

Every year, a few weeks after the conclusion of ZIFF’s festival, another more traditional and local festival takes place – The Zanzibar Cultural Festival. This year due the World Cup in Germany, we had moved our festival dates forward. As a consequence our two festivals are overlapping. We have seized upon this as an opportunity to give an additional cultural offering to both of our audiences.

Traditional New Year ( Mwaka Kogwa) 21 July

Every year in July, the village of Makunduchi in southern Unguja becomes the scene of Zanzibar’s most spectacular ritual, where a specially built hut is ceremoniously burnt down, to mark the onset of the traditional Shirazi New Year. While local women gather in processions filled with dance and songs, bands of men from surrounding villages pounce and mercilessly flog the men from rival villages, using banana stalks. In this way they are getting rid of any pent up grievances that had accumulated over the previous year. As this event will coincide with the final days of our festival, on that specific day, we are going to lay a ZIFF Caravan of assorted vehicles that will make its way, in a joyous procession, through the beautiful countryside, towards Makunduchi.

Festival panoramas


Children’s panorama  


Sara life skills workshops

Young journalist’s workshop

Taking care of our animals in collaboration with WSPA

Toward peaceful living workshop

Preparation for adulthood workshop


Pemba panorama

The 2006 Pemba panorama activities are as follows:-

Women cottage industry/HIV AIDS

Village mobile screening.

Traditional dance competition

The BAO competition.

The bull fight.

Women’s panorama

ZIFF, being gender sensitive, promotes activities that will lead to the sustained and equitable access of women, to the arts, culture and film so as to reduce gender inequalities in these areas. These activities will be to bring various groups of women together to share experiences, build alliances, develop artistic style skills of expressing and exploring the challenges of being Swahili women, as well as celebrating the cultural activities of the Swahili coast.

Some of women’s panorama activities are as follows:-

Women and tourism

Women entrepreneurship

Women and Zanzibar cuisine

Women and leadership

Taarab Music 

Village panorama

The Village Panorama is an integral part of the Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) that involves different villages on the islands of Unguja and Pemba in cultural and artistic activities. A total of fifteen villages will participate in the festival and contribute to the cultural performances and activities.

Literary forum

The focus for this year will be the role of authors in creating and maintaining an awareness of cultural identity, through the vagaries of history.

Special Guest of the Literary Forum: Abdulrazak Gurnah

Swahili poetry ZIFF is hosting Abdulrazak Gurnah, Zanzibar’s greatest author. He will present his latest book “Desertion”.

Also in the Literary Forum:

Storytelling techniques by NISAR SHERALY

“The unquiet” by ZARINA PATEL

Launch of AWAAZ magazine in Zanzibar

Literary Forum press conference at 11 am, at Africa House Hotel on the 17th July.

Visual arts and Exhibitions

Without the tradition of painting, the art and invention of photography could not have been inspired. In turn, were it not for the first photograph, there would be no film today. Paintings and photographs have preceded film, which has overtaken its ‘ancestor’s’ in becoming the most popular art form and means of expression in our contemporary world.

Zanzibar Painters

Zanzibar’s painters had their first big debut during last year’s exhibition when ZIFF launched them both locally and internationally. We intend to build on this success and give further support to the emerging ‘colours’ of Zanzibar.

Behind the veil: Princess Sayyida Salme

Sayyida Salme was the first woman from East Africa to be published in 19th Century Europe. “Behind the Veil” is intended to enable the visitor to encounter Princess Salme through a vivid and oftentimes captivating presentation spanning the distance of time, and to gain a deeper understanding of the template which forms the backdrop to her fascinating story.

Noir: Angele Etoundi Essamba

Angele is one of Africa’s most celebrated photographers. Although she draws upon her Cameroonian reminiscences, she has opened herself to the broader context of our continent. He photographs have a deceptively minimalist approach that at closer inspection is highly complex, loaded with discourse and executed with a thoroughness verging on obsessive perfection.

Stone town walls: Christophe boete

This exhibition of black and white photographs is a pictorial journey through the labyrinth of the Stone Town. The photographer has literally focused on the texture of the walls and the graffiti that adorns them, where history seems to be teased with irreverence by the spray cans of the restless youth..

Bagamoyo sculpture arts school

The Bagamoyo Sculpture Arts School is one of the leading arts training facilities in Tanzania, particularly famous for its fine works in wood that have carried into contemporary times the timeless spirit of the Makonde carving traditions. After a successful exhibition at ZIFF 2005 they are eager to participate again.

World Society for the Protection of Animals: Photography & Films

The WSPA has taken an active interest in using our festival to promote their humane message about the need to respect and protect animals that are a part of any country’s heritage. WSPA has organized a photography workshop for children. They wil  display some of their best animal photos from around the world.

Mohammed Amin

A collection of Mo’s photos that helped to change the world will be on display. 

Taken over a period of some 30 years, these photos are also a brief walk through the last decades of the turbulent history of the 20th Century.

Workshop for painters

John de Silva is Zanzibar’s most renowned painter, particularly respected for his subtle use of line and colour. As part of his concern for the heritage and culture of Zanzibar, John would like to share his vast knowledge with the younger generation of painters.                                                 

Conference ‘sails of history: citizens of the sea’

As part of its now annual conference on the Dhow Culture of the Indian Ocean, ZIFF has established an admirable tradition that attempts to combine the festival with an introspective dialogue among the stakeholders, artists, film/documentary makers, academics, as well as the general public, on what constitutes the distinctive Dhow Culture, and what could be its contribution to dialogue between civilisations.

FASHION SHOW: Africa’s Queen of Couture

Oumou Sy, Africa’s most famous designer, will present her latest 2006 collection inspired by this year’s festival theme “Sails of History”. She is also bringing to ZIFF her unique collection of designs, including costumes made for some of Africa’s classic films.

Fashion Show dates and venue: 20th July, Old Fort.

:: 1982
:: Discovering Home
:: Comrade Lemma and the Jerusalem Boys Band
:: Blood & 100% human hair
:: The Applications
:: The Deed
:: Transitions
:: Weight of Whispers
:: Thoughts and Remembrances
:: The Stone Hills of Maragoli
:: Pick an institution
:: Pattni poem
:: The smasher
:: Fragile
:: Afrikan Kween

© Kwani Trust 2006
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