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by World Music Network January 18, 2012


WMN's Rough Guide To Sauti za Busara Festival

busaraIn a few weeks time (and a fair few miles away for some), the 'friendliest festival on the planet' will be hitting Stone Town in Zanzibar! 

Sauti za Busara music festival is an annual event that has been bringing a rich variety of African music to a diverse audience from both local areas and across the globe for eight years. 2012 will see in the festival's ninth edition happening 8-12 February, when the historic Stone Town will host over four hundred African musicians - urban, rural, acoustic, electric, established and upcoming - all bases truly are covered! 

Along with all the great musical performances there are many fringe events happening across the island including a carnival street parade, film screenings, seminars and training workshops and a festival marketplace. A lot to take in we know! So the World Music Network have at least narrowed the four hundred artists down to a slightly more digestible Rough Guide of ten acts to catch if you're lucky enough to find yourself at Sauti Za Busara.

It's not too late.. buy your tickets here!

Click here to view the full line up and for further festival info. 

Jagwa Music: Saturday 11 February, 11.45pm, Old Fort 

jagwa musicFor Tanzanian media Jagwa Musicdo not exist. You can’t hear their songs on the radio; their kind of entertainment is associated with uhuni (thuggery) and the city’s low life. Yet they have a large following around Dar es Salaam - almost everybody knows their songs, you can see their lyrics painted as slogans to the sides or backs of the local dala dala bus taxis, and they have released more than a dozen cassettes.

They are somewhat veterans of Sauti za Busara, where they have performed to high critical acclaim in 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011. In 2011 the group proved that they can successfully transform the vibe of their Dar es Salaam street performances to the big stage: singer Jackie Kazimoto and the crew can transform any large stage into the most intimite party.

Nneka: Saturday 11 February, 10.30pm, Old Fort


Born and raised in Warri, Nigeria, Nneka Egbuna watched as the city and its citizens wrestled with the impact of new-found affluence. Three decades later, electrical blackouts are still a part of daily life in Nigeria, an oil-rich nation plagued by petrol shortages, where tribalism, disparity of wealth and political power further entrench divisions of class. 'All that has a lot to do with why I am the way I am, despite the fact that I have now been able to travel a great deal, and see the world from a different angle.' 

At nineteen years old, Nneka left Africa to Hamburg University, where she studied anthropology even as her musical career was building steam. Her debut 2005 album 'Victim Of Truth' brought comparisons to Lauryn Hill, while its 2008 follow-up, 'No Longer At Ease' impressed rock musician Lenny Kravitz so profoundly that he immediately tapped her to accompany him on tour. Her 2010 US debut 'Concrete Jungle' combined selections from both albums, proving to North America what the rest of the world already knew: Nneka is a unique, formidable talent to be reckoned with.

Lumumba Theatre Group: Sunday 12 February, 7pm. Old Fort 

lumumba theatre

Lumumba Theatre is a group of talented singers, dancers, actors, choreographers and musicians, based in Dar es Salaam. Instruments played include saxophone, flute, marimba, keyboards, bass and percussions. Imbued with experience in contemporary and traditional dance, their live show never disappoints; their high-energy dancing and musical prowess set them apart.

The group was established in 1997 by Director Dyuto Komba when he brought together talented students of Lumumba Primary School. Still based at the school, Lumumba is driven by its vision of the youth in Tanzania as a catalyst for social change. Towards this end, they centre activities on facilitating artistic training workshops in dance, theatre and music, providing young people with opportunities to learn, express their creativity and perform in Tanzania and around the world.

Qwela: Sunday 12 February, 4.40pm, Old Fort

qwelaLive from Uganda comes a fresh and exciting young band, raised in a traditional African background and influenced by Western culture. Qwelacome up with a unique fusion of traditional African and contemporary Western music. They cater to a section of society that is not impressed by the flood of digital and recycled music. This group of young musicians have honed their art to become a fully-fledged live act with a following on the threshold of a musical revolution in Kampala. Qwela took the award for best live band at the 2010 Pearl of Africa Music Awards - one very strong reason not to miss them at Busara!  

Jaydee: Thursday 9 February, 11.15pm, Old Fort

jaydeeLady Jaydee is possibly Tanzania's most popular singer. Her electrifying lyrics, sing-along melodies and a dash of true African womanhood gives her a well deserved recognition throughout East Africa and beyond. After a stint in radio presenting, Jaydee began her singing career in 2000 by releasing her first single 'Nakupenda', and has since risen through the ranks winning multiple African music awards. 

Super Mazembe: Friday 10 February, 12.30am, Old Fort

mazembeOf all the bands that immigrated to East Africa, Super Mazembe have stood the test of time. Formed in 1969 in Likasi, near Lubumbashi, DRC, the band moved to Nairobi in 1974, via Tanzania, just as many other Congolese bands did at that time.

They quickly found a willing audience and took the country by storm. They popularised their own dance style, mushosho, as they vied for popularity with rival groups Les Mangelepa, Les Kinois, Les Wanyika and Orchestra Virunga. Many bands were tied to specific venues by resident-band contracts, but Mazembe criss-crossed the country and toured in Tanzania and Uganda, setting audiences alight wherever they appeared. If you fancy a bit of Congolese rumba at Busara then these guys are not to be missed! 

Tumi & The Volume: Sunday 12 February, 10.20pm, Old Fort

tumi & the volumeIt’s been a decade since the Johannesburg-based group Tumi & The Volume went about making a band, transitioning from spoken-word experimentalists to the unique live hiphop outfit they are now internationally famed for. In as far as style and accomplishment is concerned they stand alone in South Africa, and are taking the world by storm.

Comprised of lead MC Tumi Molekane, drummer Paulo Chibanga, guitarist Tiago Correia-Paulo and bassist Dave Bergman, the group are now a European and North African festival staple band. They somehow find time to continue delivering pure excellence as a group whilst pursing recognised success with independent projects. Definitely ones to watch.

Hanitra: Friday 10 February, 4.30pm, Old Fort

hanitraHanitrais a singer and guitarist from the “red Island” Madagascar. Underpinning her tunes with the charming essence of the island’s rhythms, with hints of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian percussion, she draws on traditional songs to dynamically represent the new Malagasy generation. Her voice, both deep and sensual, leads the way to authentic roots, and her interpretation of the ballad 'Maninona' has for the past twenty years been considered a sort of national anthem in Madagascar.

Tunaweza Band: Saturday 11 February, 6pm, Old Fort 

tunawezaThe Dar es Salaam based group started in 2008, with ten musicians, the majority of whom are physically disabled. They chose the name Tunaweza, to make a point – it roughly translates as 'Yes, We Can!'

The group consists of thirteen members, who between them play a variety of instruments. Masoud Wanani, the group's founder and director says 'Our aims are to help ourselves by earning a living through doing something creative and expressing ourselves. At the same time we can educate the youth about important issues like HIV or the need to respect albinos.'

Bi Kidude: Friday 10 February, 5.40pm, Old Fort

bi kidude Bi Kidude bint Baraka is Zanzibar's most famous cultural ambassador and East Africa's legendary barefoot diva of both taarab and unyago traditional music. With an incredible musical career spanning back to the 1920s, she was awarded the World Music Expo (WOMEX) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, at which African music expert Banning Eyre delivered a moving tribute to Kidude:

'the singer, well in her nineties yet still sporting a bone-crushing handshake, received the honours in recognition of her more than eighty years of singing and serving as a cultural mediator and advisor of the younger generations, including on matters of sex and marriage - a proper symbol of world music's emancipatory, liberating and strengthening power.'