Guinea Bissau Carnival celebrates diversity and nature

Carnival organisers in Guinea Bissau celebrate conservation of tradition and biodiversity through fashion and dance.

Ricci Shryock | | Arts & Culture

Guinea Bissau - With instruments made of bamboo, plant-based face paints, and skirts woven from local fauna, groups at Guinea Bissau's Carnival dance competition displayed the biodiversity of their country.

Watching the contest, spectators dressed up in a colourful modern street style lined the streets of the capital Bissau. This fashion fusion of past and present reflects how modernity and tradition co-exist - yet sometimes clash - in Guinea Bissau.

Teams of performers competed in ceremonial dances from the country's many ethnic groups in a carnival  themed Rescue and Promote Our Culture. The dances represented traditional events such as the harvest and coming-of-age ceremonies.

The emphasis on biodiversity was a common thread throughout. "I think when you protect your culture, you are protecting the environment, at least from our perspective as a Guinean. There's a strong connection between the environment and the culture of this country, and you can't disassociate the two," said Rita Le, a spokeswoman for the carnival committee.

Organisers chose the theme because they said they see their traditions disappearing. "We saw that the culture of our people is getting a little lost," added Le, "We [wanted to] choose a theme that would make people think about what is really important as a nation that is divided into many ethnic groups."

Despite the eclectic mix of styles, the revellers had another thing in common - they were all intent on having a good time. 

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