By Ogova Ondego
Published August 22, 2015
Sauti za Busara Music Festival that has since 2004 been bringing music lovers to he Indian Ocean Island of Zanzibar every February shall not take place in 2016.
Yusuf Mahmoud, Founder and Chief Executive Office of Busara Promotions that organises the annual event, says the decision to cancel the celebration in 2016 has been taken after they failed to raise the targeted budget of US$200, 000 by July 2015.
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“After many meetings with stakeholders, we extended our fundraising deadline to midnight on August 19,” Mahmoud says in a media statement. “The total amount of cash or ‘in-kind’ support we were able to raise stands at $42,000, so there is still a long way to go…Selling tickets for Sauti za Busara was never a problem, but these only cover 30% of festival costs”.
Noting that festivals like Sauti za Busara “invigorate young people’s interest in local culture, give opportunities for artists and music professionals to meet and learn from [one another], keep traditions alive, create employment for local people and promote models for responsible tourism that honour and respect local culture”, Mahmoud, who is popularly known as DJ Yusuf in Zanzibar, laments that his organisation has since 2004 “had zero financial support from the government in Zanzibar, the United Republic of Tanzania or the East African Community.”
Support from donors, embassies and commercial sponsors, he says, has reached an all-time low.
“Sometimes it’s necessary to take one step back, before continuing to move forwards,” Mahmoud says of the event that was initially known as Sauti za Busara Swahili Music Festival. “Busara Board and management shall be working hard over the coming months, to ensure the festival resumes stronger than ever from 2017. Possibly this will mean moving location, or making it a biennial event.”