In February of every year, the Sauti za Busara (Swahili for “Sounds of Wisdom”) Zanzibar music festival brings an explosion of East African music and culture to the shores of Zanzibar. Since 2003, Sauti za Busara has grown to be one of Africa’s top 5 music festivals, according to CNN, and is the crown of Zanzibar’s tourist year: eagerly anticipated by locals and tourists alike.
The Zanzibar music festival takes place across the UNESCO World Heritage site of Stone Town, the cultural centre of Zanzibar, and itself a must see attraction of the archipelago. What’s more, the festival’s main venue is in Stone Town’s Old Fort: a stunning piece of Omani colonial architecture which has stood for over 200 years and remains the oldest surviving building in town.
This amazing setting for the Sauti za Busara Zanzibar music festival brings up to 20,000 people together every February in celebration of the wealth and diversity of music and culture from the East Africa region. The festival has built an enviable reputation, regionally and internationally, for its quality of music and programming, friendliness, and peaceful atmosphere.
A rich and vibrant mix of styles from the region is showcased each year, including 25 groups representing traditional ngoma, taarab, kidumbak, muziki wa dansi, hiphop, spoken word, comedy, and dance. The lineup comprises established as well as undiscovered talents, with a 50:50 balance of East African “traditional” and “modern” music.
“There the music blended and grooved, dancers felt moved to do spontaneous improvisations, drummers went flying in search of new rhythms and the singers explored new harmonies and sounds together. There were a few of those really magical moments, when different musicians find that common place where it ‘clicks’ and everything works in harmony to produce a truly exciting new sound”. (http://news.bbc.co.uk)
As well East African music, a further 15 groups representing other areas of the African continent and diaspora perform for a diverse audience from all walks of life, religion, and nationality, coming from all corners of the globe.
The Zanzibar music festival kicks off with a blazing carnival and street parade through town that is expected to be even bigger and better in 2017 – in addition to a beni brass band, you will get to see an entourage of drummers, clowns, mwanandege umbrella women, stilt-walkers, and acrobats joining the must-see parade.
The parade kicks off a four-day bonanza showcasing more than four hundred musicians and artists, with a continuous daily programme of music from 4pm to 2am including themed competitions, such as the Songs of Bob Marley competition (new to the 2017 edition), and a stunning variety of fringe events. The festival closes with a grand finalé party with music until dawn at one of Zanzibar’s fantastic beach locations: a must-attend party that rivals Zanzibar’s famed Full Moon parties.
The Sauti za Busara Zanzibar music festival is the most anticipated event of the year, bringing out the best of Zanzibar, and is not one to be missed. Admission for Tanzanians is free until 5pm, and thereafter $1 to ensure locals can afford to enjoy the events while tourist and foreign resident rates range up to a standard festival price of $110 for a full four-day pass. For more info on the Sauti za Busara Zanzibar music festival see: www.busaramusic.org, www.facebook.com/sautizabusara