Culture and Tradition

Living by the rhythm of the tides

Ibo Island is mostly inhabited by Mwani, which in Swahili means “those who live along the coast, in contact with the sea”. It is a name that distinguishes its people from the Makonde culture, an ethnic group that mainly populates the interior regions of Cabo Delgado. Makonde means “In contact with the bush”.

There is an additional ethnic group, the Makua people, found mainly on the mainland coastal and interior regions. They focus on farming of crops and play an important part in the agricultural supply chain.

The Mwani speak the Kimwani language which is a version of Swahili. Most Mwani are Muslim, and take great pride in their culture. They are mostly fishermen who still practice their livelihood using traditional methods aboard “casquinhas” (small local canoes) and living by the rhythm of the tides.

Although fishing is the population’s main economic activity, there are some small-scale local artisan producers based at the Fort “St. Joao Baptista”, whose skilled craftsmanship has given Ibo a reputation for its silver jewellery, finely crafted for generations.