Located in the Indian Ocean at the northern end the Mozambique Channel between northeastern Mozambique and northwestern Madagascar, Comoros is a sovereign archipelago island nation with the unique distinction of being the only nation that is member of the African Union (AU), the Arab League, Francophonie, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Indian Ocean Commission.
Largely a Muslim country with as much as 98% of the population professing the religion, much of the festivals celebrated on the islands are tied to Islam.
Tam-Tam De Bœuf: Running the Bull
Similar to the popular Spanish a corrida de toros (running of bulls), the N’goma gnombé or tam-tam de bœuf in French is a popular festival in Ouani on one of the four main islands that make up the Comoros, Anjouan.
Little is known about the actual origins of the event, but it may have been introduced to the island by the French, possibly the reason for the French name being more widely used than the local Comorian name.
It is usually held on the day of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr after the Ramadan festival, or during the Ouani Youth Week usually between July and August.
N’goma gnombé: Music, Dance, & Bullfight
Attracting a wide range of spectators both local and foreign, the N’goma gnombé is usually a frenetic event with lots of excitement as the crowd gather around to watch the bullfight. With oriental music in the air, the bull is released into the square while everyone surrounds the place. A couple of bullfighters dance in, swaying to the music with their capes in hand.
One of the men baits the bull, dancing softly to the music. As the animal charges, he ducks expertly to the cheers of the crowd. Soon other men joins the challenge in baiting the bull, ducking as it charges and the excitement gathers momentum as the crowd sway with the movement of the charging bull.
Often, spectators are scampering to climb up the fence as to avoid the bull as it attacks, because many are inside the arena to get good view. This highlights the dangers of the festival. But then it is part of the excitement that makes the tam-tam de bœuf or n’goma ya gnombé fun for the participants.
For more information on tam-tam de bœuf (n’goma ya gnombé), please see: