After a yearlong gap without Zanzibar’s favorite music festival, Sauti za Busara returned in 2017 with a bang, featuring 40 bands with over 400 artists on three different stages over four days. The festival shined a spotlight on high quality, 100% live African music, including traditional sounds and up and coming artists like festival favorites Bob Maghrib (Morocco), Mcharuko Band (Zanzibar), Ze Spirits Band (Tanzania), H_art the Band (Kenya), Madilisto Band (Malawi), Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band (Ghana), Karyna Gomes (Guinea-Bissau) and many others.
Six thousand festival goers from different nationalities flocked nightly to the Old Fort in Stone Town, Zanzibar, where the atmosphere was electric. The Forodhani stage was especially popular with young people and local families who gathered to enjoy diverse sounds against the backdrop of spectacular sunsets.
Yusuf Mahmoud, festival director said shortly after the event, “Through the language of music Sauti za Busara showed the world Africa is positive, Africa is full of hope, full of joy, culturally rich and diverse. For the past week thousands of people in Zanzibar and across the world witnessed the power of music to promote peace, friendship and unity. I am deeply grateful to all the festival artists and crew, to the people of Zanzibar, the sponsors, media partners, to everyone who attended and contributed to its success.”
Many festival goers said this was the best Sauti za Busara festival witnessed to date, with a fantastic and diverse music programme featuring high quality sound and lights. Many also noted that the festival was very well organized with everything running smoothly and on time.
This year, Busara Promotions partnered with Emerson’s Zanzibar Foundation to officially launch the first annual Emerson’s Music Awards (EZMA) honoring the best performance by a Zanzibari artist from a local group entered in the 2017 Sauti za Busara 2017 lineup. The award went to Gora Mohammed Gora, a Ganun player in Matona’s G Clef Band, who took home the 1,000 USD prize including a special trophy, framed certificate, and a post-award celebration hosted by the Emerson Spice Hotel.
Throughout Stone Town, the streets were filled with the sounds of music with Busara Xtra programs designed to bring the music to the people. The ladies from Michenzani Madrassat played “Dufu,” a traditional form of drumming and singing usually done by men; but this group of women only started performing some time ago and surprised Busara audiences with their enthusiastic performances.
The Movers & Shakers series explored the challenges of women in music during a special session with festival artists. Mariam Hamdani, director of the Tausi Women’s Taarab, lamented marriage as one of the key barriers to success for women in the music industry. “For the women in our group, we often lose some of our greatest talents to marriage, as their husbands stop them from continuing their music careers,” says Mariam Hamdani.
With crowds cheering for more, Sauti za Busara is bound to return next year on February 8-11, 2018.
Sauti za Busara 2017 was generously powered by: Norwegian Embassy, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), ZANTEL, SMZ, Africalia, Embassy of Germany, Zanlink, Memories of Zanzibar, Ethiopian Airlines, Mozeti, Coastal Aviation, Ikala Zanzibar Stone Town Lodge, Music in Africa, Chuchu FM Radio, Tifu TV and Zanzibar Media Corporation.