If you love music festivals and thrilled by the idea of discovering new great artists and seeing them perform live then Sauti Za Busara (SZB) festival is one of the music festivals you definitely need to make it a point that you attend. The festival is held in Stone Town, Zanzibar at the Old Fort over a period of four days. There are quite a number of factors that differentiate SZB from other music festivals in terms of their offering. First of all the festival is much longer than most as it is held over four days which means that there is a lot of artists one can enjoy. Secondly, the festival is in Stone Town, Zanzibar Island. Which means that you get to explore East Africa whilst at it. Sadly, it is not a camping music festival so you can book yourself into a hotel or backpacker of choice within the city. I say sadly because I enjoy camping festivals. The festival starts only in the afternoon at about 3pm and usually ended just after midnight. Which means that you can spend half of the day exploring Zanzibar like taking a day trip out from Stone Town and heading up North to Nungwi and Kendwa or heading to the East to explore Pingwe and Pongwe or the South East where Paje, Jambiani and Michamvi are situated. These areas are less than two hours away from Stone Town.
The 15th edition of Sauti za Busara 2018 featured an array of African artists on their lineup presented on three respective stages. There were lots of acts that I missed however, there were lots of amazing ones that I managed to watch:
Upon my arrival, on Friday I managed to watch the emerging Malawian band Mbanaye followed by the Tanzanian Cultural Arts Centre (CAC) dancers and musicians. A 14 members band made up of artists from various ethnic backgrounds.
On Saturday I arrived half through Ernest Ikwanga’s set at the Amphitheatre stage. Ikwanga an Afrocentric Malawian Jazz recording artist. I missed the Tanzanian, Segere Original’s performance, however, I made it in time to catch Grace Matata’s performance as she was one of the artists I highlighted as a must see upon the recommendation of a Tanzanian citizen I spoke to on Friday night. Grace Matata is a Kilimanjaro Music Awards nominee and afro-soul singer/songwriter from Tanzania. She describes her music as “a unique blend of Swahili soul, RnB and jazz with a special touch of poetry and light, heartwarming melodies”. It was the reggae tune she delivered that really got the crowd going and my foot tapping and head bopping whilst still trying to maintain stillness whilst filming sans a tripod. The Tanzanian Saida Karoli’s gave us one hell of a comeback performance and her entourage of dancers gave it their all and then some more for good measure. The Saturday lineup was closed by Ribab Fusion, the Moroccan band ended the night with their pop traditional fusion setlist.
On Sunday I saw Msafiri Zawose, Zawose is a Tanzanian songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His father Hukwe, was a founding figure in the nation’s musical independence. It is from him where Zawose drew inspiration with his acoustic traditional fusion sound. One of the most anticipated artist’s performance was Somi, the East African vocalist and songwriter. Her performance was exquisitely delivered with a certain level of certainty and awareness. Peppered with wokeness and much needed socio-political messages. She spoke on it and I was there for all of it. It was Kasai Allstars are a 25-piece musical collective based in Kinshasa, DRC who really fucked shit up with their magical performance. So good, I spent most times getting down, I almost forgot to photograph the show. Sauti za Busara 2018 was closed by our very own Zakes Bantwini. The multi-talented record producer, musician and singer-songwriter
The music programmer did an incredible job with this year’s African continental line up.