|The square known as bangweni ("in the square"), in the Mrambwani section of Iconi (Ngazidja).||Ntsundjini: a group of elders sitting on benches belonging to a bangwe since disappeared.|
In the Comoro
islands, small squares (bangwe) shape the towns. Organised social
activities are held there according to a complex hierarchical order which
recognises the many groups, such as clans, neighbourhoods and age sets, which
still govern public life.
|Sketch of the Mrambwani square, in Iconi (view and section).||Iconi, bangwe Mrambwani: view of the public area, looking towards the door.|
The bangwe is a closed area, with two entrances. Its sides
are either the walls of an aristocratic residence or simple partitions which
separate it from an adjacent area for women. These squares, once vital centres
of social life, feature huge doors, a covered area, a place for keeping the
elders' ceremonial instruments and games, an outer wall which people can sit
against and bandstands for the musicians.
|Ndrwani: view from inside, looking towards the door, at the other end of the bangwe.||Ndrwani: the main door of the bangwe, from the outside.|
Today, the bangwes are in serious danger of disappearing. They should be catalogued and studied so they might be preserved. Text: Anna Gilibert.
|Ndrwani: plan and sections of the bangwe. The
corner area, view and section.
Photos and drawings: Milena Maccaferri.
|Mutsamudu: view of Panga-hari from the inside, looking towards the palace steps and the bandstand.|