Sauti za Busara organizers unveil lineup for 20th-anniversary jamboree

23Nov 2022
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Sauti za Busara organizers unveil lineup for 20th-anniversary jamboree

ORGANIZERS of Sauti za Busara, the globally renowned African music festival that takes place in Stone Town, Zanzibar each February, yesterday announced the lineup for what promises to be a memorable 20th edition slated to take place in 2023.


A statement released by officials of the festival organizers, Busara Promotions, unveiled a performance list featuring well-known and upcoming bands from all regions of the African continent topped by Tiken Jah Fakoly from Ivory Coast, who is widely known as Africa’s greatest reggae star. 

In French, English, Dioula, and Bambara, Fakoly's lyrics speak of injustices suffered by Africans. His calls are for African unity and economic, political, and cultural resurgence.

With more than a dozen popular albums released since 1996, Tiken Jah Fakoly regularly fills football stadiums when he performs across Africa, Europe, and beyond.

BCUC, from Soweto South Africa, plays music ‘for the people by the people with the people.’ BCUC was one of the undisputed heroes of Sauti za Busara in 2019, where their powerful messages and explosive performances were highly acclaimed by all in attendance.

“We see ourselves as modern freedom fighters who have to tell the story of Soweto’s past, present, and future to the world,” Jovi’ Nkosi, lead vocalist, noted.

This year’s Singeli representative will be Tanzanian artist Mohammed Rashid, popularly known as 'Mzee wa Bwax', who also promises a show people will never forget.

Other Tanzanian artists to be featured include Patricia Hilary, Damian Soul, Zawose Reunion, Stone Town Rockerz, Uwaridi Female Band, Zan Ubuntu, Supa Kalulu, Zenji Boy na Wenzake, Waungwana Band and Culture Musical Club, Zanzibar’s Traditional Taarab Orchestra that was founded in 1958.

International highlights next February include Asia Madani, a Sudanese vocalist, and percussionist whose music reflects pride in her heritage as a strong African woman, with a voice that is magical and fierce.

Naxx Bitota from DR Congo blends Congolese rhumba with Mutuashi and other music styles with reggae, rhumba, and Afropop.

Sana Cissokho is a celebrated kora player from Senegal, who keeps the rich Mandinka cultural heritage alive.

The Atse Tewodros Project forges collaborations between traditional Ethiopian and Italian musicians.

Their repertoire includes songs from the Ethiopian Resistance, who fought against the Italians.

Gabrielle Ghermandi, band leader, stated: “Music gives volume to unexpressed voices. Music is a way of giving the vision of a possible or impossible future.”

Sauti za Busara 2023 also promises outstanding performances from Majestad Negra, a dance troupe from Puerto Rico, Kaloubadya, a Maloya group from Reunion, Nasibo, a singer-songwriter- Mbira player from Zimbabwe, and Zily, another strong woman whose music is rooted in the cultural traditions of Mayotte.

The theme for this year’s festival is 'Tofauti Zetu, Utajiri Wetu'-'Our Wealth is in Our Diversity'. 

The festival's director Yusuf Mahmoud noted: "Our spotlight shines brightly on quality and diverse live music from across Africa, especially women musicians, young and emerging talents with unique sounds, powerful messages, excitement and energy on stage."

Mahmoud stressed: "Visitors to our website can already watch videos and learn about all the groups who will be performing next February at this special 20th-anniversary edition."

With uncertainty after years of donor support from Norway's Embassy in Tanzania expired in March 2022, then Blue Amber Resort cancelling their sponsor agreement only six months later, Busara Promotions, the NGO behind the festival, almost had to close its doors.

As announced only a month ago, Fumba Town, a project by CPS came to the rescue with a sponsorship deal to cover most of the organization’s office running costs until March 2025. 

Tobias Dietzold, the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), said on signing the agreement: "We are committed to keeping the Sauti za Busara festival robust and dynamic for the next few years as we enjoy our rich and diverse cultural heritage through live music."

Dietzold added: "Through this partnership, we want to ensure that, at the minimum, the next three Busara festivals and the culture that surrounds them continue to thrive.”

Sauti za Busara is hailed by BBC, CNN, OkayAfrica, Afropop Worldwide, and others as one of Africa’s best and most respected music events.

The 20th edition will take place in Stone Town, Zanzibar from February 10–12, 2023 with all-festival passes for Tanzanians costing only 20,000/- (three days), or 10,000/- for single-day tickets.

Sauti za Busara 2023 is powered by Fumba Town, a project by CPS, Ignite Culture, Kendwa Rocks, Zanlink, Institut Français, Australian High Commission, Emerson Zanzibar, and more to be confirmed.