Friday, 22 February 2013

Record Attendance Number at Sauti Za Busara

The well-attended Sauti za Busara 2013 festival was filled with great music, fun surprises, and new connections.

One of the biggest and best surprises was the appearance of the legendary Bi Kidude with her band Zanzibar Unyago.

Bi Kidude has performed at every Busara festival, but it was believed that she would have to miss this year because of her ill health. After performing one song and answering questions from the fans, she danced off-stage and Zanzibar Unyago continued with their show.

On Friday, DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra, Tanzania’s most beloved muziki wa dansi band, headlined. Their performance was spectacular, drawing huge crowds and showing the world some of what Tanzania has to offer.

Sauti za Busara was also thrilled that Mani Martin from Rwanda was able to perform after a recent motorcycle accident and problems with travel sponsorship. At the last minute, he and his band managed to travel to Zanzibar for his early evening show on Saturday. His superb performance confirmed that he is one of East Africa’s hottest emerging young talents.

Khaira Arby from Mali wowed the crowd with her strong vocals and beautiful melodies. To close her set she sang for her home country, which is currently in turmoil over the March 2012 coup by militant extremists.

The extremists threatened Arby, saying that if she continued to sing, her tongue would be cut out. All of her instruments were smashed and other artists in Mali were threatened. Sauti za Busara also hosted a panel on censorship and music during the daily “Movers and Shakers” sessions.

Closing the festival was the wonderful and moving performance by international superstar, Cheikh Lô. Lô hails from Senegal and performs a signature blend of semi-acoustic flavours from West and Central African, Cuba, and Spain. His strong voice and powerful music brought down the house.

This year, Sauti za Busara went green to promote environmental sustainability and to reduce the carbon footprint of the festival by partnering with Sustainable East Africa, a coalition of local NGOs. One of the NGOs, Manispa Jamii Vikokotoni (MJV), co-ordinated the recycling efforts, while youths from the PLCI School’s Environmental Club sold “up-cycled” crafts and led workshops on recycling.

Another of Sauti za Busara’s new partnerships was with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), who used their booth at the festival to start a discussion about youth empowerment and family planning. Sawiche Wamunza, UNFPA’s advocacy and communications analyst said that UNFPA’s focus during the Sauti za Busara festival was on young people and their right to access reproductive health information. “Our message to all young people in the country: Plan your life, Plan your future, Plan your family,” said Miriam Khan, UNFPA’s country director.

Although the final number of attendees has not yet been totalled, ticket sales show that this was Busara’s biggest year yet, fitting for a 10th anniversary. Record numbers congregated for the film programme, which featured the three full-length documentary films Benda Bilili!, Omar Sosa’s Souvenirs from Africa, and United States of Africa: Beyond Hip Hop. Merchandise sales were also high with some items being completely sold out.

With special thanks to Sauti za Busara sponsors: Royal Norwegian Embassy, Hivos People unlimited, Goethe Institute, Grand Malt, US Embassy, Memories of Zanzibar, Diamond Trust Bank, ChemiCotex, Precision Air, Azam Marine, Ultimate Security, Zanzibar Unique Ltd., Southern Sun, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Embassy of France, Alliance Française, SMOLE II, Times FM, Pride FM and all of our sponsors and supporters.