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The main islands of Zanzibar are Unguja, Pemba and Tumbatu. Stone Town, on the western shore of Unguja Island, is the Capital of this region. The city gained its name from the many large multi-story "stone" buildings that fill the old town area. These structures are actually constructed with coral and mortar, not stone. There are currently about 1700 of these buildings in the Stone Town section of Zanzibar City.
The festival takes place in Stone Town, is organized by Busara Promotions, a non-profit NGO, with the aim of encouraging audiences to celebrate cultural and religious diversity, and to promote and develop opportunities for musicians and performing artists along the Swahili coast.
Mwaka Kogwa is celebrated in several villages around Zanzibar, but best observed in Makunduchi, on the southeastern coast. The colourful festival originates in Persia and celebrates the New Year according to the Shirazi calendar.
Festivities are accompanied by ancient rites and rituals, such as symbolic fires and mock fights, which are believed to ensure peace and harmony for the village in the coming year. Men taking part in the fights, defend themselves with banana stems (in place of the traditional cudgels and clubs), while women stroll through the village dressed in their best clothes, taunting the men with songs about village life and love.
The ritual is said to allow villagers to air any grievances and vent their anger, thus ensuring conflicts are not carried into the coming year.
The celebration ends with feasts, singing and dancing, often carrying on late into the night.
The International Triathlon and marathon is hosted in Zanzibar every November. In the past, events have proven successful in drawing competitors from Africa, Asia, and Europe. Both the Triathlon and Marathon are Olympic distances and take place in some of Zanzibar’s finest locations.
Eid el Hajj is celebrated in February and marks the end of the pilgrammage in Mecca with festivities and carnivals held over four days. Festivities can be seen at the Mnazi Moja grounds, across from the National Museum, or at the Kariakoo fairgrounds.