Celebrating Africa’s diversity by fighting corruption

Wednesday January 23 2019

Swahili encouters performing at a previous

Swahili encouters performing at a previous Busara festival. PHOTO | FILE 

By Salome Gregory

As music lovers and stakeholders finalize preparations for the 16th edition of the Sauti za Busara festival. This year’s theme targets to fight corruption because they believe artists can use their voices to fight this vice as they celebrate the wealth and diversity of African music.

Organizers of the four days festival that will kick off February 7-10, 2019 have confirmed arrangements are in place as local revellers and international visitors prepare for another season of live music from different talents from across the African Continent.

According to the festival director Yusuf Mahmoud, corruption is a vice eating away at the moral fibre of our society across Africa and beyond. Sadly, it has now reached a point where some people even accept it as normal. Though one festival cannot completely change society, we join hands with local and global partners to promote dialogue, change attitudes and encourage action for good governance.

“In support of artists who use music to advocate for peace, unity, human rights and freedom of expression, a strong message visible at this year’s festival is ‘Say No to Corruption’ (Potezea Rushwa, Sio Dili!),” he said.

He further says, some of the artists who will support the anti-corruption message include Faith Mussa (Malawi), Fadhilee Itulya (Kenya), Fid Q (Tanzania), BCUC (South Africa) and others as they perform at the festival.

The festival manager Journey Ramadhan reiterated that as Sauti za Busara continues to promote Zanzibar and Tanzania across the world, the festival attracts many international promoters, providing the perfect platform for East African musicians to share their music with global audiences.

“The list, which looks so simple yet so rich in many attributes, features iconic sounds from Zanzibar and Tanzania, including groups that are geared towards showing the world the diversity of our home-grown music,” he said.

Advance tickets are selling well and the organisers say they are confident these will cover around 30 per cent of festival expenses.

However, despite its past successes, recent years have not been easy due to a funding crisis that leaves Busara Promotions operating on a shoe-string budget and forcing them to seek donor support.

“The festival’s appeal continues to grow, although financial challenges still persist. There is little government support for the arts. The private sector has no concept of corporate social responsibility and fundraising gets tougher every year. At the same time in comparison with other festivals, we operate on a shoestring budget. Whilst keeping admission accessible for local people, ticket sales cover only 30 per cent of the costs,” said the festival director.

Available information from Busara Promotions shows that, despite the fact that the anti corruption message will be aired this year, the event will include 46 performances from over 400 artistes on three different stages while most groups will be performing on this iconic stage for their very first time.

Commenting on this year’s line-up, the festival manager Journey Ramadhan, says there will be a breath of freshness with new and exciting sounds from Tanzania including Wamwiduka Band and SKide, a Singeli act who will show the world the rich attributes of a youthful genre that is purely Tanzanian.

“It is my belief that after their performances at the festival things might not remain the same, just as has been the case with many other groups that performed at Sauti za Busara in past years, such as Sarabi, Jagwa Music, Tausi Women’s Taarab and others,” said Journey Ramadhan.

The line-up for Sautiza Busara 2019 includes Mokoomba (Zimbabwe), Fid Q (Tanzania), BCUC (South Africa), Afrigo Band (Uganda), Fadhilee Itulya (Kenya), Mkubwa na Wanawe Crew (Tanzania), S Kide (Tanzania), Damian Soul (Tanzania), Jackie Akello (Uganda), Faith Mussa (Malawi).

Others are Asia Madani (Sudan/Egypt), M’ToroChamou (Mayotte), Hoba Hoba Spirit (Morocco), Shamsi Music (Kenya), Sofaz (Reunion), Dago Roots (Reunion), Lydol (Cameroun), Stone Town Rockerz (Zanzibar), Ithrene (Algeria), Ifrikya Spirit (Algeria), Trio Kazanchis + 2 (Ethiopia/Switzerland), Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar) and more.

The 2019 edition will serve as a platform from which artists and audiences around the world will join hands to say no to corruption, demanding leaders from different sectors fulfil their daily obligations free from corrupt practise.

Sauti za Busara’s main priority is to remain accessible and affordable for Tanzanians, so admission for local people is TSh10,000 per day or TSh20,000 for an All Festival four-day pass.

“Even people across town who cannot afford to buy tickets will have opportunities to enjoy live performances every day at a Free Stage in Forodhani Gardens, the Festival Roadshows, Busara Xtra events and the Carnival Parade, which has in its own right become one of Zanzibar’s most eagerly-anticipated events,” he added.