The people of Ibo Island are Kimwani speaking. Kimwani is a minority language spoken in Mozambique, including the Quirimba Archipelago Islands. Kimwani means “language of the people from the coast” and is considered unusual among sub-Saharan languages.
Interestingly Kimwani lost the feature of lexical tone, which means that words spoken are rarely stressed. Almost like a language that doesn’t get angry! Some Kimwani speakers on Ibo also speak Portuguese, which is the official language of Mozambique. Up to 20 percent of the population of Ibo use Portuguese as their second language.
Traditions and honouring your culture is the heart of Ibo Island. It is a common bond so strong that the grip has remained unloosened for centuries. These values direct all that occurs on the island. All events on Ibo are celebrated with traditional festivals full of zest and enthusiasm.
The most famous annual festival on Ibo is called Kueto Siriwala (cue-to sea-ree-wala) and means “to not forget your roots, regardless of how far away from home you are”. During festivals Ibo comes alive with vibrant colours, dancing, culture, art and traditions.
In 1773 Ibo Island was declared the capital of Cabo Delgado. It was this year, on June 25th, that the first Kueto Siriwala Festival was held. Preparations toward this annual festival, now known as the Ibo Festival, start as early as the beginning of each year. Everyone gets involved to make the event a success – the government, the community, NGO’s like fundacao do Ibo, and Ibo Island Lodge all work together to make the event a success.
Fresh seafood, coconut rice and tropical fruit are all in abundance. Anthems are sung and bicycles are raced for fun. Canoes and traditional sailing dhows compete on the still waters in the famous annual dhow race, and school children present their poetry and plays to the crowds. Traditional dancing takes place – all originally from Ibo Island. A sense of community fills the streets and a sense of belonging surrounds all visitors and guests.
Ibo Island Lodge hosts guests for this unique annual festival.
A piece of your heart will stay behind on the island, for this is a festival that brings families and communities and guests together.