IN all honesty, it must be recorded here that this year’s 15th edition of the Sauti za Busara (SzB) international music festival, in Zanzibar, started in fine style.
It was under the theme of “United in Music” that Stone Town was set alight on Thursday evening, with a customary “Carnival Parade”. This parade has become an eagerly-anticipated event of its’ own kind, on the Isles.
The Festival Director’s promise “to celebrate the richness and diversity of African music, whilst giving priority to young and emerging artists and music with cultural identity,” was quite visible, throughout this opening event and all of the stage performances that followed it. A number of “Haba na Haba” contemporary and traditional dancers, from Dar es Salaam, made sure they came early enough to participate in this “Island Carnival Parade”.
The Safi Theatre troupe, who are also from the commercial capital, were also there with their group of drummers and Acrobats, adding more colour and motion to it. The Zanzibar-based participants included “Beni” brass bands, “Ngoma” drummers, “Capoeira, Mdundiko” and “Kilua” dancers, acrobats, stiltwalkers, “Mwanandege” (umbrella women), “Maasai” and “Reki Warriors”.
The actual parade set out in the Kisonge area, near the Michenzani roundabout, which is about 2km from the Old Fort, where it ended. This was followed with nine live bands performing on three stages well into the night. These bands were Simangavole from Reunion, CAC Fusion from Arusha Region on the Mainland and Matona’s Cultural Band from Dar es Salaam.
Then came Maulidi ya Homu ya Mtendeni, right from here in Zanzibar, which was followed by Maia and the Big Sky band from neighbouring Kenya. The Zanzibar Taarab Ensemble, as indicated by their name, who are from here, followed. Next, it was the Mlimani Park Orchestra from Dar es Salaam, with their special dance music, Diana Samkange ‘MaNgwenya’ from Zimbabwe and last on the evening’s menu, Kidumu and the Boda Boda Band, from Burundi and Kenya.
All of these bands were able to present their repertoire with support of well-equipped professional light and sound engineers, which made everything fully visible and audible. All that is left is for the SzB the organisers-usara Promotions-to make sure they maintain this impressive start on “Day One” of the four-day event.