Beyond the stage performances, the 19th edition of Sauti za Busara, one of Africa’s famous music festivals, women addressed the theme, Paza Sauti: Amplifying Women Voices, in conversations that encompassed all that is needed for female artistes to succeed.
The three-day (February 11-13) music festival attracted more than 10,000 fans and artistes from Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere (France, Germany, Russia, Netherlands) that saw women taking centre-stage both on and off the main dais.
“This is the second time we are holding the festival during these pandemic years and notice that we have more African faces than ever before,” said Yusuf Mahmoud, the festival director.
“This is the best festival in East Africa. I have been here for five years in a row and I will never miss it for anything. The live music, rhythms, food, beach, everything was just fantastic,” said Wambui Kinyua from Nairobi.
Fanie Fayar, a musician from Congo attended for the first time and said, “It is amazing not only to perform but to get together with fellow African artistes, network and reconnect.”
For three days, party-goers enjoyed performances from eight artistes each night, a taste of Zanzibar’s classic Taarab group Nadi Ikwan Safaa, Tanzania’s renowned Bongo Flava artiste, Ben Pol, Zimbabwe’s Evans MPfumela Mapfumo, South Africa’s Msaki and Sjava and Congo Brazzaville’s Fanie Fayar took the fans through an extraordinary music tour.
“I rehearsed for three weeks and took the invitation wholeheartedly and with so much respect as this is one of the biggest music platforms, not just in East Africa, but the continent,” said Ben Pol.
Susan Kerunen from Uganda, Bahati Female Band (Tanzania), Fanie Fayar (Congo), Zambia’s Sampa the great and Sholo Mwamba who closed the festival were epic.
Kerunen said, “I was amazed a crowd turned up at 5pm, because I thought that was too early. But there they were, early and in anticipation, cheering and dancing. Amazing!”
“I am grateful for the conversations we have had on women in the music industry.
''These should be done every day until we reach a level we can proudly say ‘Yes, we are somewhere good now’” said Kenya’s Wambui.
“Amazing what Sauti za Busara is doing creating platforms for female artistes. We don’t get enough of that back home,” said South African Asanda Lusaseni Mvana (stage name Msaki).
“Conversations need to continue after Busara, and not just on stage but in all creative areas. It starts from creative spaces while growing up,” she noted.
Nomfusi Gotyana, the South African self-taught singer and songwriter said, “The music industry in general has its own challenges and being a black artiste adds another but again being a female black artiste piles on challenges.”
This is not the first time Sauti za Busara has used the festival to start much-needed conversation and discussions especially those affecting women. In 2020, Sauti za Busara’s talking point was 'Raise your Voice, Say No to Sexual Harassment'.
At the close of the festival, Mr Mahmoud said he was doubtful of next year’s edition, the 20th, taking place for lack of funding, but that the government had pledged support.