Sauti za Busara 2019
Sauti za Busara 2019 at Ngome Kongwe, Zanzibar

The 2019 edition of the Sauti za Busara music festival ended last Sunday night with a thrilling performance by Mokoomba from Zimbabwe and has been labeled by stakeholders as one of the best festivals that the organizers have staged since 2004.

From the rich and fresh line-up to various activities such as the Swahili Encounters artistic collaborations and Movers & Shaker’s networking sessions for professionals, the festival further galvanized its position as one of Africa’s best music festivals that puts African music under the international spotlight.

According to organizers the festival which was themed ‘Say No to Corruption’ is a true platform where both superstars and upcoming musicians can connect and build bridges.

Speaking a day after the festival, Yusuf Mahmoud, the festival director said it was with great pride that they had hosted another extravaganza of this nature, even at times when the odds seemed stacked against them.

“Today’s success is always tomorrow’s challenge due to the raised expectations festival goers get used to.

Our aim is to keep moving forward and make the festival even better year on year,” said Yusuf. According to him, despite the financial shortcomings they were once again able to deliver a world-class festival whose standards easily compared with others elsewhere that are heavily funded by national associations.

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“At Sauti za Busara one of our major strengths has been to help artists connect with each other and to build cultural bridges that would be difficult to create through ordinary means,” said Yusuf.

“The festival clearly brings benefits for Zanzibar and Tanzania in terms of providing jobs and boosting the economy, building skills and livelihoods, promoting good-news stories, keeping traditions alive and providing spaces for intercultural exchange”. He added: “Artistes who participate at Sauti za Busara make valuable connections and contacts and it is no wonder that they are often invited for performances in other festivals”.

One of the artists who has benefited from Sauti za Busara is Amina Omar, leader of Siti & the Band, who said her career took a different turn from the very first day she performed at the festival for the first time. Speaking at the Movers & Shakers forum, Amina recounted how she has traveled to several countries through connections she made at the festival in past years.

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“I have been invited to several countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, and others, not only for performances but also in collaborations with other African artistes,” she said.

The festival this year paid tribute to some of the departed African stars who left their mark on the world music industry. “As we celebrate the lifegiving properties of African music, we also acknowledge the enormous contribution made by musicians who departed this world during the past 12 months,” said Yusuf Mahmoud.

He added: “Ayub Ogada, Geoffrey Oryema, Rachid Taha, Aretha Franklin, Randy Weston, Jackson Aluta Kazimoto, Kassemady Diabate, Khaira Arby, Hugh Masekela, Oliver Mtukudzi … all of these were legends in their own right. Their music lives forever. They entertained, whilst educating and bringing joy to millions of people around the world, and we remember them with respect”.

This year’s line-up included Fid Q, Damian Soul, Mkubwa na Wanawe Crew, S Kide & Wakupeti Band, Stone Town Rockerz, Tausi Women’s Taarab, Wamwiduka Band and Rajab Suleiman & Kithara from Tanzania, alongside Afrigo Band, Jackie Akello and Eli Maliki (Uganda), Fadhilee Itulya and Shamsi Music from Kenya.

Others were BCUC (South Africa), Mokoomba (Zimbabwe), Faith Mussa (Malawi), Hoba Hoba Spirit (Morocco), M’Toro Chamou (Mayotte), Tune Recreation Committee (South Africa), Ithrene and Ifrikya Spirit (Algeria), Asia Madani (Sudan/Egypt), Lydol (Cameroon), Sofaz and Dago Roots (Reunion) and more.

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Sauti za Busara 2019 was powered by Norwegian Embassy, Embassy of Switzerland to Tanzania and Zambia, European Union, Africalia, Embassy of France, Embassy of Germany, Pro Helvetia, TV-E, E-FM, Zanzibar Media Corporation, Zanlink, Mozeti, Ethiopian Airlines, African Movie Channel and more.

Sauti za Busara (‘sounds of wisdom’) is a music festival held every year in February in Zanzibar, Tanzania at the Old Fort (Ngome Kongwe), with fringe events taking place concurrently around Stone Town – including the Carnival Street Parade, Swahili Encounters, Movers & Shakers and Busara Xtra.

Sauti za Busara is one of the most highly acclaimed music festivals in Africa, with several hundred artistes participating each year.

It showcases a diverse and dynamic programmes of exclusively African music – 100 percent live – and has over the years provided a valuable stage for local Swahili talent, from Taarab legends like Bi Kidude and Culture Musical Club to homegrown Tanzanian pop and hip-hop.