Zanzibar: After four nights surrounded by wide smiles and nonstop partying, curtains finally rolled down on the 15th edition of the Sauti za Busara festival at the iconic Ngome Kongwe in Zanzibar with an electrifying final performance by South Africa’s Zakes Bantwini.
The usually quiet Ngome Kongwe neighbourhood burst into a beehive of activity with an array of performances from artistes who put their best feet forward to celebrate Africa’s cultural diversity.
Widely considered to be its best so far under the theme United in Music, the festival brought revellers from almost every corner of the world to the Old Fort.
They danced, cheered and sang along with little restrain, for many it was a once in a lifetime opportunity they could not afford to miss.
There was taste of it all as those in attendance sampled Africa’s cultural endowment with genres such as muziki wa dansi, benga fusion, maloya, jazz, taarab and even deep Durban house music that kept the audience lively on their feet.
The 40 groups from across the African Continent that made the final cut showed audiences why they had been selected above the rest, exhibiting creativity and energy on stage, which have become hallmarks of the festival that is rated among the top 7 in Africa.
Young and old performers were spread across three stages, with Tanzanian artistes such as Saida Karoli, Mlimani Park Orchestra, Grace Matata, Msafri Zawose, Isack Abeneko, Siti & the Band, Segere Original and CAC Fusion putting up performances that could well have been statements of intent.
Visiting artists greatly appreciated by local audiences included Kasai Allstars (DRC), Zakes Bantwini (South Africa), Ribab Fusion (Morocco), Kidum & the Boda Boda Band (Burundi / Kenya), Diana Samkange ‘MaNgwenya’ (Zimbabwe), Fatma Zidan (Egypt / Denmark), Inganzo Ngari (Rwanda), El Dey (Algeria) and Simbin Project (Senegal / Switzerland).
According to festival director Yusuf Mahmoud, this year’s festival featured among the best that they have put up in years.
“This was the richest and most diverse programme we have offered so far, with performances to satisfy people of all ages and backgrounds. It is our hope we can come up with an even more exciting line-up next year,” he said.
He added: This year’s success now becomes next year’s challenge because naturally people expect us to surpass these levels in almost every aspect. Even with the technical and financial limitations that we face, it is always our intention to keep moving forwards in levels of artistic quality, organisation and technical production.
I am deeply grateful to the festival crew who delivered a world-class event that ran professionally, with excellent sound quality and 46 performances all perfectly on time.
He also thanked sponsors, donors, partners and the people of Zanzibar and Tanzania for their unwavering support for the festival.
According to festival manager Journey Ramadhan, the festival is still underfunded and they have to make do with shoestring budgets therefore calling upon the business community who are enormous beneficiaries of the festival to join them.
“We have support from the Norwegian and Swiss Embassies and several smaller partners but this is not enough to sustain the festival,” said Ramadhan.
Speaking on the side, Bjorn Maes of Africalia (one of the festival’s benefactors) said through such festivals Africa gets to know itself better.
“What I have experienced both here and elsewhere is there is a lot of diversity in Africa and therefore we have to continue learning about other cultures on the continent,” he said.
Another attraction at the festival was the daily Movers & Shakers forum that encourages musicians and industry specialists to network and discuss critical issues affecting the industry.
Sauti za Busara festival 2018 is powered by Norwegian Embassy, Embassy of Switzerland to Tanzania and Zambia, Africalia, Mozeti, Zanlink, Memories of Zanzibar, Zenj FM, Chuchu FM, Tifu TV, Music In Africa, Ikala Zanzibar, Emerson Zanzibar, Coastal Aviation, 2Tech Security, Embassy of Germany
More info: www.busaramusic.org