Festival De Gungu – Gungu Festival Congo

Festival De Gungu - Gungu Festival

The National  Gungu Festival( FESNAG) is an annual gathering that celebrates the musical and dance cultures of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Originally, it was a manifestation of socio cultural and tourism promotion of the traditional Pende culture by the local communities for its development. The Pende are an ethnic group  who inhabit the savannah in the south of the Equatorial forest and Kasai Occidental . the festival aim was to protect and revalue the ancestral heritage of the Pende culture but now this festival has incorporated in other Congolese ethnic groups and the touristic economic and social promotion of the different areas it takes place in.

Origin of Festival De Gungu - Gungu Festival - Congo

Origin of Gungu festival.In Democratic Republic of Congo, the Gungu festival was first unveiled in 1925 under the name Saga or Luvidia a Pende term to mean show or play or celebration and it took place between 1925- 1960 to observe the independence of the kingdom of Belgium in the capital of Gungu in the province of Kwilo.  From 1986-1998 the festival returned under the name ‘’Festival Gungu’’ but once again became inactive. However in 2008, this festival was once again renamed  the ‘’social cultural festival Gungu’’ and is now known as ‘‘Gungu National Festival.’’ This festival has also taken place in other parts of DRC such as Bukavu , capital of south kivu where the 14th festival took place in 2014. In 1980, the Democratic Republic of Congo became well known as Congolese music or rumba. The different artists always met every 21 July to commemorate the Belgian national holiday.

Cultural Celebration at Gungu Festival

Carefully crafted costumes respond to specific symbolism, soil and water, fertility, relationships between community members minds. In the frame of this festival, the Pende commemorate their ancestors by masked dances that they authentically use , a signifance of deep culture. Masks have always been important to the peoples of Africa . These costumes inspire choreography that evolve and enrich new inputs such as animal masks, parodies, coiffures, frescoes on bodies and stilts.

The great  Gitenga Minganji famous circumcision masks are not only the emblems of the festival  but also the cultural anchors of the society. They invite the spirits of the deceased to interfere in the world of the living and to promote the harmony and fertility of ecosystems.

Pende men go through three different initiation ceremonies which include, Mukanda, Mugonge and Kela , all of which replete with magical and mystical elements.

Early on the day of the festival, young boys embark on the steps and weave raffia to make regulatory costumes. Mubanda is still the famous traditional school that introduces young people to adulthood.  Association , initiation, secret are the watch words of a festival that invites to remember the ancestral  values and how the elders managed the communities and relations with nature well before the colonial masters. There are initiation masters who instruct young people during the rituals of passage into adulthood.  The initiates are able to cut open their stomachs and hold their insides while dancing or they stick twigs through their cheeks.  Humans metarmophosize into animals or do other sorts of invisible wizadry  under cover  of darkness. The participants in the Gungu festival are the ultimate owners of the secret of the various initiations. Here you can visit too ,the Gungu museum of ethnography during this time, participate in drum and dance workshops, visit to Lukwila Rocks plus Kakobola waterfalls.

As a shield of unity, the Gungu festival brings together the best dancers and  artists from all 11 provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazaville, Mali, South Africa, Angola, Namibia with different celebration themes each year. The national festival Gungu is usually 3-7days tour spent enjoying vibrant traditional songs and interesting dances in the month of July.  

Gungu festival - Festival de Gungu

How to Prepare for your DR Congo Vacation and Gungu Festival

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one of the world’s most interesting and underated destinations. It’s not your typical African safari destination, it’s untouched and offers a whole new world to discovery. You will have a chance to meet and have a lot of genuine interactions with the local people while discouvering new traditions not known to the outside world.

It is in the Congo that you can truly feel the presence of the African motherland. If you are the type who is not afraid of a challenge, this will not be the journey for you, but you will never regret being part of one of the last untouched hearts of mankind in the world. Please note that our DR Congo tours are only for experienced travelers! Congo is not for everyone. 

Money while traveling in Congo

Congolese Francs (CDF) are the local currency. One of the unique characteristics of this currency is that it cannot be converted or exported outside of the Congo. As some notes are nearly worthless, it is often convenient to use US dollars, but never use old dollar bills or small denominations (under $20).

It’s best to travel with a carefully concealed money belt containing US dollars in place of traveler’s checks and credit cards. Credit cards are only accepted in one or two deluxe hotels in Kinshasa.

Changing money around the port is possible, but it’s best to find a reliable contact. (Don’t hesitate to ask around your hotel)

Taking Photos and Safety During your Congo Tour

It is highly recommended that you avoid taking photos at places of national security, especially at the river, the government building, and the airport. Taking unsanctioned photos can lead to arrest.

You should avoid walking at night and think twice about walking alone during the day unless you know the route well. Take the advice of the locals in matters of personal security wherever. If you are involved in any accident, do not hang around as mobs may appear quickly.  Always carry a copy of your passport.

Check with your GP before leaving home and take all necessary precautions against malaria in the DR Congo

Visa To Congo Kinshasa

You need this. Getting a visa before traveling to Kinshasa is essential. It costs approximately US$ 75 for a month’s single-entry visa or US$ 135 for a 60-day multiple-entry visa. Visas can be obtained at the border within 24 hours for those entering Congo by land.

When obtaining African visas for onward travel, if possible, obtain them before leaving your home country. It is particularly true for Angolan visas, which require an introductory letter from a local.

You might be interested in attractions like Congo river around Kinshasa or do a Kinshasa City tour

Dont want the fun to end? You can also add an extension for a Uganda safari holiday for and exciting Gorilla trekking experience 

Climate and When to Go

Aside from the high altitude zones, the majority of the country experiences hot, humid weather throughout the year, with inversions lingering around 30 degrees Celsius during the day. Coastal areas tend to have scant rain, but inland rains increase significantly.

It will depend largely on where you will be visiting in the country when you plan your trip. December through February is the dry season (probably the best time to visit) in the north, while April through October is the dry season in the south.   Check out our 10 Days Congo tour

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