On a Sunday at the end of last month, there was the 2nd M'biwi Contest. M'biwi is a ceremony which is generally practised during weddings or other big occasions. It's a women's ceremony. They sit on the floor and bang two pieces of bamboo together to emit a clacking sound, and by hitting the sticks twice or three times each, they create various rythms, ta-TAC-ta-ta-TAC or TAC-a-tac-a-tac. They often sit in a ring, and two women at a time get up and dance facing each other. The dance itself is composed of very small steps and a lot of bottom-wiggling. One sings the main melody, the others sing repeats and choruses. Each group of m'biwi singers/dancers has its own salouva (cotton wrap) and t-shirt.
It started off with musicians at the back playing on percussion and electric guitars, and the hundred or so m'biwi-girls tapping a rhythm over the top with their sticks. Then the jury drew lots as to who would go first, and the teams went up one after the other. For each team, the contest started with a tune played by the musicians, to which they tapped and danced. Then they arranged themselves into a circle, three lines, whatever, sat down, one took the microphone and started singing, the others accompanied her with singing and tapping. Two girls would get up and wiggle about, sit down, another two would replace them, so on and so forth.
Six groups of m'biwi-girls were in the contest, from all over Mayotte. They were marked out of fifty by members of a jury sitting on one side : ten points for their dresses and tops, ten for the singing, ten for the dancing, ten for general beauty and smiling, ten for anything else the jury noticed.
The musicians were at the back, along with a girl taking photos, another one recording for Mayotte 1ère and a few security guards. The jury was on the right-hand side. The musicians were also the ones who explained what was going on and what was going to happen next. Unfortunately for us, they did that in shimaoré.
The girls with the orange and white salouvas won, in case you're interested. The third prize was 500€, second prize 1000€, first prize 1500€. For most people in Mayotte, that's a lot of money.