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Matwari and Dhikr

The Islamic mysticism (or Sufism) which can be found in Lamu on the eastcoast of Kenya, has always encouraged African participation in Islamic worship by incorporating matwari (drumlike tambourines) and dhikr (rhythmic chanting).


The distinctive repertoire of devotional activities that emerged from the combination of African and Islamic traditions was noted by the famous North African traveler, Ibn Battuta. While visiting the sultan of Mogadishu in 1331, Ibn Battuta took part in a graveside prayer ritual that was followed by a zefe (musical procession). These ceremonies seem to be analogous to the song parade that leads hundreds of men and boys along the Lamu seafront from the graveyard on the final day of the Maulidi festival and during the Muslim New Year festivities.

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Taken on January 21, 2007