Once again, during 12 –15 February 2015, Sauti za Busara brought people from across the world together in a sea of humanity displayed at Stone Town, Zanzibar to celebrate the wealth and diversity of African music. The theme for this 12th edition was “Together as One; Amani Ndio Mpango Mzima!” Our message was received loud and clear: with peace and unity, Africa is the Future!
On the opening day of the festival, Stone Town was brought to a standstill with the colorful parade consisting of local police brass band, umbrella women’s group, stilit-walkers, reki warriors and the traditional kilua ngoma. The parade went on passing through different arteries of Stone Town and ended by unleash a series of cultural displays at the heart of the action: Forodhani Park and inside the Old Fort.
Suddenly Africa was meeting in Zanzibar with Bonaya Doti from Kenya and DCMA Young Stars from Zanzibar warming the stage up to see Culture Musical Club fill the air with the beautiful sounds of traditional taarab music. The programme was wonderfully crafted with the screening of More than a Festival by Sauti za Busara and Tanganiya – Msafiri Zawose at the amphitheatre. The other side of the Old Fort in Mambo Club, Erik Eliana from Cameroun was treating the audience to a multi-instrumental gig shaking up the musical traditions of his native Cameroon with a dazzling range of his unique voice and original rural rhythms emphasizing his urban bustle. While the screen lovers were being treated to the premier of I Shot Bi KIdude by Andy Jones, Msafiri Zawose was following in his father’s footsteps displaying the Gogo traditional music rich in local Tanzanian sounds, and taking these in new and exciting directions.
The atmosphere was ripe and the first day was well attended. Alikiba was soon going on stage and the gifted Isabel Novella from Mozambique did what she knows best. Sent the audience drooling to her wonderful voice, a gift she used well ensuring the crowd not only danced but sung along. Yet Alikiba was about to go on 100% live. The local dailies have reported the events that followed from Kiba’s show with daring headlines such as; ‘Ali Kiba steals the show at the 12th edition of Sauti za Busara.’ Local audiences who managed to step out and show support for Tanzanian groups and those from East Africa did not disappoint. This year the festival had about 50% local and East African audiences present, thanks to 19 groups representing Tanzania, as led by Alikiba whose performance was enthralling and undisputable.
The second day kept the pace going with Mwahiyerani and Shirikisho Sanaa from Tanzania opening the show respectively. The gorgeous Aline Frazao from Angola took to the stage with an acoustic show that kept the audiences on the edge of their seats before Kiki Kidumbaki would claim their rightful place in history as the most active and respected kidumbak group in Zanzibar. Rwanda was now being represented by Liza Kamikazi’s powerful voice that rented the rocky venue as Zee Town Sojaz and Rico Single from Zanzibar mesmerized the crowd at the second stage in the amphitheatre with live band performances.
Tsiliva, a Malagasy musician who performs the raunchy sounds of kilalaka hopped to the stage and it was a different feeling all together. His groovy beats left the audience high only to be taken higher by South Africa’s kind of Maskandi music none other than the energetic Ihhashi Elimhlope and Kenyan new afro fusion group Sarabi Band. Sarabi was the last act of the Friday programme. The young musicians took over the festival with their powerful music addressing social injustice and corruption. Their show was participatory with deeply-felt connections with the full-to-capacity audience. Sarabi’s inspirational set surely brought down the roof on the second day.
Day 3 kicked off with the nomadic Ifa band from Tanzania taking to the stage, launching another great day of rich and diverse cultural experiences. They were followed by the poetic rhythms from the Comoros Island and France based group Ahamada Smis ‘Origines Trio’. Festival goers were brought back home before they could even digest the beautiful sounds, when legendary taarab musician Mohamed Ilyas with Nyota Zameremeta from Zanzibar took to the stage. The music was flowing deep and the world was united with vocals and instrumentals filling the air with melodies of peace.
The varied programme continued with the second stage showcasing the undisputable Tanzanian dancers and musicians known as Cocodo African Music and Mabantu Africa. Meanwhile temperatures in the main stage venue rose even further with rousing sets by Leo Mkanyia and the Swahili Blues Band from Tanzania, and Tsiliva from Madagascar who played twice, leaving festival audiences screaming for more.
The festival finale continued with a fun-packed and inspiring programme. Tunaweza Band of people with special needs proved disability is not inability, as they sent revelers fro all across the world nodding and dancing. Mgodro Group from Tanzania took the mantle and raised the bar of live music fused with contemporary dance moves. Before one could imagine the next act of Swahili Encounters, with island styles of music from around Indian Ocean, right there were the Songs for Peace awards to exemplary productions that echoed messages for peace. Culture Music Club stole the Gold Award, with their unique taarab sounds and lyrics. Tunaweza Band bagged the silver award. Local Zanzibari hiphop icon Rico Single won the Bronze award and Leo Mkanyia’s efforts were recognized with an outstanding runner-up award.
Soon after, Tcheka from Cape Verde filled the Old Fort with his uniquely powerful acoustic sounds. The stage was too hot to handle but Djmawi Africa who took over did not disappoint. All the way from Algeria, the group electrified the audience with their energy. While the screening of a music documentary from Mali titled The Last Song before the War was being screened in the adjacent amphitheatre, others were treated to the thrilling and forward-looking sounds of a revolutionary band from South Africa called The Brother Moves on. The Swiss born Thais Diarra with roots from Senegal and Mali went on stage featuring Noumoucounda Cissoko on kora. This was one of the acts that every audience member opened their hearts to and bounced to the beautiful sounds with themes of African Unity.
It was only a few minutes before the 12th edition was about to become history, when Ghanaian born and NYC based hip hop artist Blitz the Ambassador shook the rocky venue with his afropolitan vibes. Blitz provided Sauti za Busara’s most powerful finale ever, with a well organized band that displayed classic routines while he flowed in lyrical consciousness on the microphone. Sauti za Busara’s last act on the line up left the festival goers at a level they could never have anticipated.
Sauti za Busara proved truly music really is a universal language. It communicates to all of us, rich or poor, regardless of language, religion, gender or politics. Music teaches us to respect our differences and value diversity. Through music and art, the world sees Africa is positive; Africa is vibrant, Africa is rich in its many cultures and expressions. Festival organisers wholeheartedly thank all the artists, all crew, donors and sponsors, media partners, and our audiences, who helped make the 12th edition our most successful Sauti za Busara to date.
The 12th edition of the festival has been made possible through the generous support of: Royal Norwegian Embassy, Hivos, U.S. Embassy, CEFA Tanzania, SDC, Embassy of Germany, AMDP African Music Development Programme, Zanlink, Times FM Radio, MusicInAfrica.net, Chuchu FM Radio, Hits FM Radio & ZCTV, Azam Marine, Southern Sun DSM, Maru Maru Hotel, Zanzibar Grand Palace Hotel.
Courtesy of Sauti Za Busara