This 100-year-old event happens yearly on the last Sunday before the Orthodox Lent and is believed to have South American origins.
According to locals, Lebanese immigrants who returned home from Brazil brought the tradition with them. Others claim that the Senegalese forces that were stationed in Lebanon during the French mandate used to dress this way to calm down Lebanese citizens during World War II.
Kids and adults from different religious backgrounds walk in the streets of Mina while chanting “Zambo! Zambo! Zambo!” At the end of the festival, they all jump into the sea to wash off their body paints.
Despite the organizers and participants confirmation that the event doesn’t have any racist intentions, lots of people see it this way because of “blackfacing”. Just like “Black Pete” that is still being celebrated in Europe and that is creating lots of controversy, the “Zambo” event should maybe adapt and use other colors and Carnival costumes.