Spotlight on women as Sauti za Busara calls for entry

Friday May 17 2019


By Paul Owere

Dar es Salaam. After a successful 2019 edition of the Sauti za Busara music festival, organizers this week have announced the call for entry for the next edition of the annual East African festival.

Artistes who are interested in the 17th edition that is scheduled to take place in February 2020 have up to July this year to submit their applications for consideration.

The announcement coincided with the renewal of the festival’s partnership with the Norwegian embassy in Tanzania for the next three years in a deal worth some $342,000.

Speaking during the signing ceremony this week, festival director Yusuf Mahmood said the coming edition will give special attention to women or groups that are led by women.

“This does not mean whatsoever that we are compromising our values, we remain true to our core values as we search for unique music with cultural identity that is connected to Africa,” says Yusuf Mahmood.

According to Yusuf, the dwindling numbers of women in the arts sector in East Africa has become a concern as less women continue to take up music as a career despite the abundant talent.


“Even with the barriers such as corruption in the music industry, we believe there is every reason for women to succeed in the arts sector and that is why we continue to encourage their participation at the festival,” he says.

During the 2019 edition of the Sauti za Busara, the festival was held under the theme ‘Say No to Corruption’.

He adds that given the kind of platform that the festival continues to provide they will also focus on young and emerging talent because it is the only place where they can showcase their talent to the world.

“During the festival many music professionals come to Zanzibar, some for the fun and thrill but most of them come to sign artistes who go on to play at other festivals across the world. There are others who also come here just to discover new sounds and that is why it is critical to put emphasis on emerging artistes,” said Yusuf.

The growing appeal of the festival is something that perhaps the young and emerging artistes should exploit, according to the BBC and CNN Sauti za Busara is one of the top 10 festivals in Africa.

Speaking on the funding DJ Yusuf as he is popularly known says his team is greatly encouraged by this support from partners with the hope that it will continue.

“Our aim is to professionalise and promote music from Tanzania and East Africa, and help artists reach new audiences. In a world that’s increasingly divided, music reaches and connects across borders: people to people, heart to heart. We show the world Africa is joyful, vibrant, rich and diverse in its cultural expressions,” he says.

According to him Sauti za Busara brings together people of different backgrounds in celebration of Africa’s unique musical traditions.

“The festival provides platforms for artists and professionals to meet and learn from each other. Whilst honouring cultural diversity and freedom of expression, civil society becomes stronger. Busara Promotions thanks the Norwegian Embassy and the people of Norway for their generous support,” he says.

But why has the Norwegian mission continued to support the festival after 10 years.

According to the Norwegian ambassador to Tanzania Elisabeth Jacobsen the Embassy is proud to continue its support for Busara Promotions due to the positive impact that continues to bring to society.

“For the past decade, Busara has connected local artistes and music sector professionals with the international music community. Norway attaches great importance to human rights, cultural cooperation and freedom of artistic expression,” she says.

She adds: Another objective of the Norwegian support is to promote the development of creativity, professionalism and expertise in the cultural sector. We believe that by providing support to Busara and their tremendous efforts, we contribute to a stronger and more vibrant cultural heritage for Tanzania.

Her call is that other public offices, the business community, donors and individuals should also support the festival,

The money is meant to support organisational development, improvements in strategic planning, budgeting, reporting and financial procedures as well as activities throughout the year to produce the internationally-acclaimed music festival.

But even with such support, organisers say it is still very expensive to put up a festival of that magnitude with ticket prices only covering for 30 per cent of the total costs.

“This means we have to continuously fundraise to fill the remaining gaps and on many occasions we do not meet our budgetary requirements,” says Yusuf.

The festival attracts audiences from across Africa, Europe and beyond who bring a major boost for the local economy.