Zanzibar. The 18th edition of the Sauti za Busara came to hilarious climax on Saturday night after two days of performances that brought life to the Old Fort and the Stone Town neighborhood.
Featuring an array of artistes who were performing for the first time on the iconic stage, the festival brought back distant memories of pre-pandemic years when the setting was a melting point of African culture.
Singeli artiste Dullah Makabila was a special attraction as he got the audience dancing to the final climax with his songs 'Nimegairi Kula' and 'Hujaulamba'.
With many parts of the world under travel restrictions and lockdowns, the festival faced last minute cancelations from many artistes from many parts of Africa.
Artistes who were forced to cancel their shows despite being on the original schedule included South Africa’s Yugen Blakrok, Dawda Jobarteh from The Gambia and Sika Kokoo from Ghana.
Their void was filled with some of the best emerging talent such as Tara Jazz and Stone Town Rockers who left a statement of their own blowing away revelers with energetic performances.
This year, the festival was reduced to two days instead of the usual four as a result reducing the number of groups from the usual 40 to 14.
The spotlight this year was on emerging talent and new acts such as Tofa Boy who despite being in his early years got the audience dancing as the first act to perform on Friday Night.
Another great performance came from Bagamoyo based Vitali Maembe who had in the past 10 years tried to apply but his efforts had always ended in vain.
“It was a sigh of relief finally when I got that last minute call, there was no way I was going to turn it down because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Maembe.
Messages of hope
The over 3000 visitors in attendance applauded the precautions that were taken in maintaining health ministry guidelines but also bringing a ray of hope to artistes and businesses.
Speaking to The Citizen, Ali Juma, a local trader with a stall inside the Old Fort, said the virus is going to be around which according to him calls for the community to learn how to live with it.
“We must learn how to live with it by taking the necessary precautions as addressed by our health experts, communities have to survive because no one is going to bring food at your doorstep,” said Ali Juma.
The artistes on the other hand during and after their performances emphasized the need for them to be out on stage performing, a freedom that has been cut out by the outbreak.
Ugandan artiste Sandra Nankoma and Algeria’s Djam was on record saying it was their first performance since the outbreak of the pandemic.
To them this was a rare test of freedom that they have not known for almost a year now due restrictions in their respective countries.
“It was a pleasure to be back in Africa on this stage once again after a whole year of inactivity,” said Bilal Djam.
This year’s festival was supported by Zanzibar Revolutionary Government, CRDB, Plus TV, Zanlink and many others.