Bianou Festivities Strengthen Social Cohesion in Agadez, Niger
Niamey – From 18 August to 11 September, spirits were running high in the city of Agadez thanks to the activities organized in the frame of the annual Bianou festivities chaired by the Sultanate in Agadez, with IOM’s support as part of its community stabilization activities financed by the European Union.
The city of Agadez in Niger is the birthplace of the Bianou festivities, an ancient religious ceremony celebrated for centuries, which later spread to Arlit and the subregion. The festival takes place 30 days after the Tabaski celebration and lasts for 23 days.
Each year, the event brings forth three weeks of carnival-like festivities with the aim to promote local, regional and national traditions. This celebration is considered to be one of the most favorable times of the year for the forgiveness of sins committed during the year.
“The richness of our cultural heritage and the Bianou festivities are of paramount importance. We would like to ensure that these traditions are passed on to the next generations,” said His Excellence Oumarou Ibrahim Oumarou Sultan of Aïr. “The festivities are also an opportunity to strengthen the ties of kinship and friendship between local communities and to consolidate the social cohesion in the region.”
Through the festivities, the sultanate in Agadez wants to pay tribute to all the traditional warriors who have protected the region’s cultural heritage for centuries and to bring awareness to this celebration slowly losing its popularity among the new generations.
During the celebrations, traditional warriors from the East and West of Agadez sporting spears and daggers cross the city under the beats of tambourines. People of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds participate by dressing up and escorting the traditional dancers.
“This is the first time I am attending these celebrations and I am very impressed,” says Moro, a Nigerian currently living in Agadez. “I am overwhelmed by the beautiful outfits and the joy people are showing.”
The celebration sees its peak when the eastern and western groups finally meet and challenge each other’s artistic skills. If in the early years, these encounters where met with hostility, nowadays, the reunion symbolizes a moment of peace and social cohesion for the community.
During the night, the convoy travels 5 kilometers outside Agadez to continue the celebrations. The following morning, the group returns to the city dancing, singing, and waving palm branches.
“IOM and its local partners are fully committed to improving social cohesion in the region through tolerance, inclusion and mutual understanding between the different ethnic groups,” said Barbara Rijks, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger.
For more information, please contact Monica Chiriac at IOM Niger at Tel: +227 8931 8764, Email: [email protected]