By Ogova Ondego
Published January 9, 2014
Nairobi’s Afro-Jazz performer Ricky Nanjero and his band, Ricky na Marafiki, are among 31 groups scheduled to perform at Sauti za Busara music festival in Zanzibar, February 13-16, 2014.
Ricky Nanjero (aka Patrick Nanjero Lukhachi), who is said to have begun as a drummer before switching to bass guitar, is also reported to be one of Kenya’s best live band performers who is also said to be in high demand as a studio session player. The performance in Stone Town’s Ngome Kongwe stage shall no doubt increase his stature in music.
The 11th annual festival shall accommodate 200 artists mainly from Tanzania with a sprinkling of performers from Kenya (Ricky na Marafiki), Uganda (Joel Sebunjo), Rwanda (Moyize), Ethiopia (Addis Acoustic Project ft. Melaku Belay), Malawi (Street Rat and Body Mind & Soul) and Dizu Plaatjies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble (South Africa).
Sauti za Busara (Sounds of Wisdom) is promoted as an international festival that celebrates African music every second weekend of February. The organizers of the festival that started as Sauti za Busara Swahili Music Festival, “is to bring people together while showcasing the wealth and diversity of music that is currently being created in East Africa, other parts of the African Continent and the Diaspora.”
Among the highlights of the event shall be performances by Tanzania’s Jhikoman and Seven Survivor, Ghana’s Ebo Taylor, and The Gambia’s Sona Jobarteh.
Jhikoman (Jhiko Manyika) is one of Tanzania’s best known reggae artists. He has been singing in English and Kiswahili since 1994. He views music as a medium through which to raise awareness about social justice.
Jhikoman—who combines roots reggae with acoustic African sounds and has performed widely in Europe and Africa—collaborated with international artists like Baran M. from Kurdistan, Khalid Salih from Sudan, Uriel Seri from Ivory Coast, OnRebel G from Mexico, Sister Yana from Brazil and Thorbjørn Holte, Geir Inge Storli, Henrik Johnsen and “Jacob” from Norway on his Chikondi album that was released in 2005.
Guitarist, composer, arranger, bandleader, and producer Ebo Taylor has been a prominent figure on the Ghanaian music scene for more than six decades. In the late 1950s he was active in the influential highlife bands, Stargazers and Broadway Dance Band.
While on tour of London with his own Black Star Highlife Band in 1962, Ebo Taylor collaborated with Nigeria’s Fela Kuti and other African musicians in Britain at the time.
Returning to Ghana, he worked as a producer, crafting recordings for others, as well as exploring his own projects, combining traditional Ghanaian material with Afro-beat, jazz, and funk rhythms to create his own recognizable sound in the 1970s.
Taylor’s work became popular internationally with hip-hop producers in the 21st century, which led to the release of Love and Death on Strut Records in 2010, his first internationally distributed album.
The success of Love and Death prompted Strut to issue the stellar retrospective Life Stories: Highlife & Afrobeat Classics 1973-1980, in 2011. A year later, in 2012, a third Strut album, the deeply personal Appia Kwa Bridge, appeared, and showed that at 76, Ebo Taylor was still intensely creative and focused, mixing traditional Fante songs and chants with children’s rhymes and personal matters into his own sharp vision of highlife.
The Sauti za Busara 2014 artist line-up includes Jhikoman (Tanzania), Ashimba (Tanzania/Finland), Swahili Vibes (Zanzibar), Baladna Taarab (Zanzibar), Hoko Roro (Tanzania), Tausi Women’s Taarab (Zanzibar), Joel Sebunjo ft. Lenna Kuurmaa (Uganda), Seven Survivor (Tanzania), Abantu Mandingo (Tanzania), Segere Original (Tanzania), Moyize (Rwanda), Ricky na Marafiki (Kenya), Rajab Suleiman & Kithara ft. Derya Takkali (Zanzibar/Turkey/Germany), Kazimoto (Tanzania/Germany), Ebo Taylor (Ghana/Germany), Jupiter & Okwess International (DRC), Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate (USA/Guinea), The Nile Project (Nile Basin), Noumoucounda Cissoko (Senegal), Oy (Ghana/Switzerland), Addis Acoustic Project ft. Melaku Belay (Ethiopia), Sona Jobarteh (Gambia/UK), Tarabband (Egypt/Sweden), Majestad Negra (Puerto Rico), HAJAmadagascar and The Groovy People ft. Werner Puntigam (Madagascar/France/Austria), Tritonik (Mauritius), Kara Sylla Ka (Senegal/Switzerland), Dizu Plaatjies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble (South Africa), Street Rat and Body Mind & Soul (Malawi), and Waldemar Bastos (Angola/Portugal).