By Busara Promotions Press with Ogova Ondego
Published January 15, 2013
The 10th Sauti za Busara Music festival, held February 14-17, 2013 in Stone Town, Zanzibar, is set to make an extra effort in supporting free speech by featuring African artists whose music is restricted or banned in their home countries.
Following the coup by militant Islamists in Mali, singer Khaira Arby was forbidden from singing, in spite of her music praising the prophet Mohammad.
From Zimbabwe, militant rapper and poet Comrade Fatso (Samm Farai Monro) criticises the Robert Mugabe government through his music and poetry. Banned from state radio and television, Comrade Fatso turns to unconventional channels to spread his music.
“We have our own guerrilla tactics of getting the word out into the townships. We have street teams of comrades who distribute hundreds of copies of the album into the kombis – public mini-buses used by ordinary Zimbabweans. So we create an alternative “people’s radio” as the album gets played in hundreds of kombis,” says Comrade Fatso.
If Robert Mugabe’s secret police stopped turning up at his gigs, Comrade Fatso admits that he would begin to worry. “They’re always there, monitoring what we do;” reports the militant rapper-poet. “Our music is a rebellious, pro-freedom riot so if we didn’t attract their attention, we’d be doing something wrong. What we sing is truth and words are our weapon.”
During the “Movers & Shakers” portion of Sauti za Busara, a panel of artists will discuss censorship and the importance of protecting artistic freedom and freedom of expression.
“Music is one of the most powerful tools we have to speak out against injustice, to celebrate life, and to express the triumphs of the human spirit. Freedom of expression is a human right that benefits us all when it is observed and respected. That is why Sauti za Busara, which means ‘sounds of wisdom’ in Kiswahili, is proud to amplify the voices of artists like Khaira Arby and Comrade Fatso who have been banned or censored in their home countries,” says Rebecca Yeong Corey, managing director of Sauti za Busara.
Arby is set to perform on the final day of the three-day showcase at Ngome Kongwe (the Old fort) in Zanzibar. Inspired by her cousin Ali Farka Toure, Arby turns to her mixed Berber and Songhai roots and draws on a sweet mixture of desert blues and recording sophistication, blending ripping electric guitar with ngoni (forefather of banjo), funky drum breaks and traditional percussions of scraper and calabash. Though very much her own woman, Arby, born in a village not far from the famed city of Timbutku, is firmly planted in the desert sand.
Comrade Fatso, one of Zimbabwe’s most popular and controversial poets, is scheduled to perform alongside Tanzania’s Mlimani Park Orchestra (aka Sikinde), Atongo Zimba from Ghana, N’Faly Kouyaté from Guinea, Owiny Sigoma Band from Kenya, and fellow countrymen Mokoomba. Comrade Fatso performs Toyi Toyi Poetry, radical street poetry that mixes Shona with English and mbira with hip hop.
From Tanzania the hosts of the festival will see the talented Msafiri Zawose & Sauti Band, Lumumba Theatre Group, Super Maya Baikoko, Peter Msechu and many more.
Entrance for Tanzanian’s is Sh3000 with a special rate for East African residents.