Every year in February a herd of monkeys and birds and pack of crocodiles descends to the city of Dedougou. It marks the beginning of International Festival of Masks and the Arts.
It is a week-long festival in which costumes and music go hand in hand.
Locals believe that when a person puts on a mask of an animal he is converted into one. That is the reason when costumed participants danced on the beats of drums, they look enchanted.
The festival is opened by the parade of masked participants. After that musicians enter playing frantic music on their hand drums. They play xylophones with the drums as well.
The difference between FESTIMA and other costumed festivals is; the costumes participants wear in FESTIMA are up to one and a half meter high and are really heavy. Sometimes they cover the whole body; they are like body-suits made up of leaves, feathers or straws.
Another interesting aspect of this festival is bissap, a drink made up of grapes and ginger juice. It helps to ward off the heat.
Traditional crafts including woven baskets, beaded jewelry, and wooden masks are sold in the small set up stalls during this week by the local artisans.
FESTIMA is relatively a newer festival as it started officially in 1996. A group of students started this festival when they thought of preserving their culture.
Initially, it was for four days but as the number of spectators increased, the days grew from four to seven.
This is a bi-annual festival.