Early call from Sauti za Busara


  • Billed as the best East African festival, the extravaganza this year attracted over 10,000 revellers from across the world making the month of February a high tourist season on the Spice Isles.

The 2019 edition of the Sauti za Busara is some 10 months away and organisers have already announced the call for artistes for the prestigious annual festival.

Billed as the best East African festival, the extravaganza this year attracted over 10,000 revellers from across the world making the month of February a high tourist season on the Spice Isles.

Speaking to the Beat, festival manager Journey Ramadhani said it was important to start the process early in order to avoid the usual hitches which include late applications.

“The closing date for applications is July 31, 2018. For the first time artistes representing music from the Arab world and the Indian Ocean are also welcome to apply. There after a selection committee will meet in August to finalise the line-up, after which all applicants will be notified of their status before September,” says Journey.

According to him only artistes who play music with identity and play live instruments are encouraged to apply for a slot.

“We normally open up a submission period from April –July in order to give more artistes the opportunity to apply because some of the artists like to organise their music tours very early in advance,” said Journey.

This he says gives artistes enough time to artists to apply as opposed to the idea of applying few days to the deadline.

“But as you might as well understand we operate under very tight budgets so the call for artist is also call for donors and sponsor to get ready to support the coming festival,” adds Journey.

For the 15 years that the festival has been around with all the positive reviews there have been some disappointments too on the side of local artistes who don’t see the need to apply in time.

“It beats my understand and I guess that of anyone else that the number of applications that we get abroad beat the number of applications that we get from our local artistes by several folds yet it is a festival that takes place in their own backyard,” says Journey.

Last year alone the festival attracted over 600 applications as the artistes compete for the 46 available slots to perform at the four-day festival that takes place at the Old Fort in Stone Town, Zanzibar.

“This shows just how much artistes value Sauti za Busara as a platform through which they can share their creative works with the rest of the world.”

Several artistes including Kenya’s Makadem admit that the festival with time become a career launch pad for many local artistes towards the international platform as they aspire to take their music to the global stage.

Though there is still plenty of room for improvement, the 2018 edition of the Sauti za Busara festival line up in Zanzibar was dubbed by organisers as one of their best drawing over 10, 000 in attendances.

The festival’s budget which stands at some $300,000 by international standards makes Sauti za Busara one of the low budget festivals across the world yet among the seven best on the African continent. Busara’s frequent request for support therefore isn’t a farfetched one; the Ivory Coast government injects more than $2,000,000 into the Masa Festival with governments of Morocco, South Africa extending similar financial support to local festivals.

Its prominence has February become a high tourist season on the Spice Islands with conservative figures estimating that the festival has injected over $70 million into the Zanzibar economy since its inception some 15 years ago.

“The cultural tourism that Sauti za Busara supports attracts visitors motivated by more than just the sun, safari and the beaches of Zanzibar,” festival director Yusuf Mahmoud once told The Beat.

As opposed to the simplicity that most Western tourists look for, during the festival they experience Tanzanians who are technologically savvy, rather than incapacity they see Tanzanians as agents who organize and make things happen including running a complicated festival on time.

It therefore remains an interesting prospect to see whether local artistes will respond to this call in time to rival the ever growing number foreign artistes who see this as a golden opportunity to reach out to the World.