- It has been a tradition for Bissau-Guineans to celebrate the annual carnival, which is usually a moment for explosion of colours, masks and suggestive music, demonstrating a passionate of African and Catholic cultures. But of late, the event has been turned into moments of deaths, mainly as a result of overspeeding and drunkenness, among others causes.
Like the 2006 event, this year's carnival, which was staged between 17 and 20 February, also turned fatal.
Guinea-Bissau's Road Commissioner, Paolino Dias, confirmed that at least 8 people throughout the country were killed as a result of road related accidents during Carnival 2007. The capital Bissau registered 4 deaths, while the rest occurred in Cacheu, northwest of the country.
Instead of using the event to foster peace, promote their national culture or woo tourists, many Bissau-Guineans turned it into a moment of physical aggressions. According to the Director of Medical Services at Simão Hospital Mendes de Bissau, Augustin Ndumba, they have received over 40 cases of physical aggressions this year. Most of the aggressions took place between rival neighbours.
During the 2006 carnival five people lost their lives. In one aggression, a girl was burnt into ashes.
Consequently, Mr Ndumba said, the aggressions have left three people dead, while leaving behind several others with weapon injury cuts.
Many households invest comparatively large resources into the event, in particular into the elaborated masks and costumes.
After colourful, lively and loud parades, carnivals in Guinea-Bissau usually end up in local parties at "party zones" indicated by organisers. Here, local musicians make sure that they entertain crowds of all ages during the night. Such parties, which allow the poor and rich to dance together, are used by many people to make new relations.
With limited tourist attractions, Bissau authorities would have gained a lot if they make the event tourist and visitor friendly, but reports of violence and deaths each year keep promoting a negative view of the carnivals.
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