Stage beckons for next Sauti za Busara festival

Friday November 8 2019

AliKiba (wearing a fidora) on stage at a past

AliKiba (wearing a fidora) on stage at a past Busara fest in Zanzibar. 

Sauti za Busara, one of Africa’s leading festivals has confirmed the dates for next year’s edition at the Ngome Kongwe and excitement is building especially with the release of a unique line-up that was made public a fortnight ago.

Organisers of what is billed to be East Africa best festival says there is more to the 2020 edition of the Sauti za Busara because it falls on Valentine’s Day.

Just like in the recent past the selection process took time with hundreds of applications being received from across the world.

“This year we received five hundred applications from artistes representing 70 countries across the African Continent and diaspora,” says Yusuf Mahmoud, the festival director.

He maintains that one of the key factors to the selection of the artistes by the festival committee has always been adherence to music with identity.

“Whilst seeking a diverse and exciting line-up, the festival selection committee had strict criteria to keep in mind; including gender balance, artistic quality, originality, creativity and innovation, music with identity that is uniquely African. Whilst highlighting music from the East Africa region,” says Mr Mahmoud.


He adds: “We aim to ensure especially young, new and emerging talents are also represented from North, South, West and Central Africa, and other islands of the Indian Ocean. Finally, we also have to consider if these artistes can perform live.

He says that if artistes don’t make it on the final list doesn’t mean the end of it all because out of 500 artistes who applied for Sauti za Busara this year, the committee was pleased to see 155 also uploaded their profiles to the website.

“This means that their promotional materials will also continue to be seen by other promoters, managers and professionals in the African music industry,” says Yusuf Mahmood. Artistes that have been confirmed so far include Bebe Baya (Guinea), FRA! (Ghana), Guiss Guiss Bou Bess (Senegal), Mamy Kanouté (Senegal), Kaloubadya (Reunion), Mannyok (Mauritius), Mehdi Qamoum (Morocco), Ison Mistari aka Zenji Boy (Zanzibar), Seun Olota (Nigeria), Apio Moro (Uganda), Evon (Uganda), Blinky Bill (Kenya), Lulu Abdalla (Kenya), Ambasa Mandela & The Last Tribe (Kenya), Sibusiso ‘Mash’ Mashiloane (South Africa), the Mehdi Laifaoui Trab Project (Algeria), Pigment (Reunion), Mapanya Band ( Zanzibar), Mopao Swahili Jazz (Tanzania), Nadi Ikhwan Safaa Malindi Taarab (Zanzibar), Oumar Konaté (Mali), Sinachuki Kidumbak (Zanzibar), Sinaubi & Zawose Spirit Group (Tanzania), Siti & The Band (Zanzibar), Tarajazz (Zanzibar), The Mafik (Tanzania), Wakazi (Tanzania), Yembemá (Colombia), Rahat Zamaan Taarab Orchestra (Zanzibar), Souad Asla & Lemma (Algeria) and Thaïs Diarra (Senegal).

Having rode on the corruption theme in 2019, the coming festival encourages the audience to love live music.

“It is widely recognised that human beings (and especially Africans) playing acoustic or electric instruments in harmony bring tangible feelings, spirit and soul to music. In recent years, sadly fewer people are learning to play music to the extent where many of Africa’s rich cultural traditions face a real threat of extinction. For this reason, our main theme at Sauti za Busara 2020 will be “Love Live Music”!”

But all is not very rosy for the festival as they continue to struggle to pay the bills to sustain the festival and its demands.

“A festival of this size has significant production costs, and we are determined to keep ticket prices affordable for local audiences. Thankfully Busara Promotions, the NGO behind this event, continues to enjoy support from the Norwegian Embassy, Meanwhile, the festival does have commitments of support from Africalia, Embassy of the Netherlands, Embassy of France, Emerson Hotels and Zanlink in Zanzibar. There is certainly room for more partners and we welcome anyone interested to please contact us sooner rather than later, to make the most of many available opportunities for acknowledgements and visibility,” he says. The 2020 edition kicks off on Thursday, February 13 until February 16.