By Sauti za Busara with Ogova Ondego
Published January 2, 2013
Performance arts lovers are expected to gather in Zanzibar for the 10th annual Sauti za Busara music festival. The festival takes place February 14-17, 2013 at Ngome Kongwe (the Old Fort) in the Zanzibari Stone Town World Heritage Site section.
The festival is set to attract its highest number of local and international visitors ever in 2013, based on the booking and enquiries being registered.
The 2013 festival is set to celebrate a lifetime achievement of bringing together artists and audiences from around Africa and beyond with enriching cultural experiences, promoting cultural diversity and social development for the past 10 years.
In 2013 Sauti za Busara is expected to feature 200 musicians: more than 25 groups from East Africa and beyond; acoustic and electric, up-and-coming and established all performing live.
The Old Fort is expected to host three nights of non-stop live music, with the main programme continuing Friday through Sunday with performances from 5.00pm until 1.00am.
The festival also features African Music Films: documentaries, music videos and live concert footage, all focused on promoting the richness and diversity of African music as screened in the amphitheatre of the Old Fort.
Festival admission prices vary, with tickets for Tanzanians costing Sh3,000 (US$2).
Headline artist for the 10th edition of Sauti za Busara is internationally acclaimed Baye Fall artist Cheikh Lo from Senegal. A superb singer and songwriter as well as a distinctive guitarist, percussionist and drummer, he has personalised and distilled a variety of influences from West and Central Africa, to create a style that is uniquely his own.
Cheikh Lo was born in 1955, to Senegalese parents in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, not far from the border with Mali, where he grew up speaking Bambara (language of Mali), Wolof (language of Senegal) and French.
During his teens, Cheikh Lo listened to all kinds of music, especially the Congolese rumba which was popular throughout Africa. At 21 he started singing and playing percussion with Orchestra Volta Jazz in Bobo Dioulasso.
Senegalese Youssou N’Dour who noticed Cheikh Lo ‘s unique voice and helped develop his talent first encountered him as a session singer in 1989.
“Whenever he sang the choruses I was overwhelmed by his voice,” explains N’Dour, “but I really got to know him from his cassette ‘Doxandeme’.” I heard his voice and said “wow” – I found something in his voice that’s like a voyage through Burkina, Niger, Mali.”
On the album ‘Ne La Thiass’, Lo is joined on vocals by Youssou N’Dour (‘Guiss Guiss’ and ‘Set’) and by musicians from N’dour’s Super Etoile de Dakar. Lo’s signature sound – a semi acoustic, Spanish-tinged take on the popular mbalax style – was an instant success in Senegal gaining him a dedicated local following.
To celebrate ten years of Sauti za Busara, the festival showcases Best of the Best; audience favourites of past years including Tanzania’s DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra.” One of Tanzania’s most popular bands, Mlimani Park Orchestra is still leading exponents of Tanzanian muziki wa dansi. Mlimani Park, aka Sikinde, have cooed their way into the hearts of Tanzanians with an endless string of hits sung and composed by the likes of Hassani Bitchuka, Muhiddin Maalim Gurumo, Cosmas Chidumule and Shaaban Dede. In Tanzania the first and foremost way of appreciating a song is usually through its lyrics. Mlimani are famous for their themes and the intricate poetry delivered by their lead singers. Intelligent and topical lyrics are a regular feature in Tanzanian music, however, it is really Mlimani’s instrumental sounds ” the interplay of their guitars and finely honed horn arrangements that are their trademark, qualifying them as one of Africa’s outstanding bands.
Zanzibar’s Culture Musical Club will also showcase at the 10th edition and they remain the most prolific and successful taarab orchestra from East Africa. The club performs widely at concerts in Zanzibar town, but also frequently travels overseas. With hundreds of songs on the local market and six international CD releases, the group has been performing in Europe regularly since 1996, and in the past few years they have done shows in United States, Dominican Republic, Reunion and Japan.
Other main acts include Khaira Arby (Mali), Comrade Fatso and Chabvondoka (Zimbabwe), Atongo Zimba (Ghana), N’Faly Kouyate (Guinea), Nathalie Natiembe (Reunion), Nawal & Les Femmes de la Lune (Comoros/Mayotte), Wazimbo (Mozambique), The Moreira Project (Mozambique/South Africa), Owiny Sigoma Band (Kenya/UK), Mokoomba (Zimbabwe), Msafiri Zawose & Sauti Band (Tanzania), Mani Martin (Rwanda), Burkina Electric (Burkina Faso/USA), Lumumba Theatre Group (Tanzania), Sousou & Maher Cissoko (Senegal/Sweden), Super Maya Baikoko (Tanzania), Peter Msechu (Tanzania) and many more.
Sauti za Busara will continue to host the Movers & Shakers networking forum for local and visiting arts professionals. This networking space facilitates discussions, exchange and development of ideas on the creative industries in the East African region and beyond.
It’s not just the festival that puts on a show; the local community is encouraged to take part by hosting Busara Xtra fringe events. These include traditional ngoma drum and dance, fashion shows, dhow races, open-mic sessions, after-parties and performances of Zanzibar’s oldest taarab orchestras as arranged by the local community.