Sounds of wisdom

By | Travel
Colourful parade at the Sauti za Busara Music Festival.

Throughout history, humankind has taken to creating music for an assortment of reasons, yet Africa has distinct traditions when it comes to music rooted deep within its culture. The traditional music of East Africa has gone through changes due to historical, political, and economic evolutions, shaping it into what it is today, despite its ancient roots. Located in the African Great Lakes is Tanzania, home to the Sauti za Busara Music Festival in the cultural heart of Zanzibar Stone Town. Sauti za Busara translates to mean “sounds of wisdom” in Swahili, allowing visitors to explore a perspective in which music may be enjoyed, as well as teach lessons in life. Concerts run continuously throughout the day, with the final band going on stage around midnight. Entertainment is just one reason for the use of music; it serves an even larger purpose to locals and allows a sense of conduct when going about their daily routines. Traditional music is passed down orally, enjoyed on occasions such as religious ceremonies, birth of a newborn, rites of passages, weddings and funerals.

From February 12th to 15th, 2015 the twelfth edition is to take place where it aims to feature African artists performing to crowds of large audiences who come from various different ethnic backgrounds. The festival enjoys the reputation of being “the friendliest on the planet”, which essentially allows for the creation of employment for locals and draws in business for tourism; the top income generator for the islands. The festival brings people together in celebration of East African music, creating a special atmosphere in which the beauty in traditional music may be both appreciated and experienced.

Noumoucounda Cissoko performing.

Noumoucounda Cissoko performing.

The festival’s enormous success has led it to being listed as one of the Top 25 Festivals in the world by Songlines Magazine. In 2004 Sauti za Busara was born and has developed to become one of the most popular festivals that provides networking opportunities for African artists and music professionals, and bring about festival goers globally; owing much of its popularity to “the lineup of artists, the warm welcoming hearts of the Zanzibari people”, and the town’s sociable cultural beauty. The lighting in Old Fort (Stone Town) illuminates the ancient walls, and the sounds of African beats reverberate within the historical arena. Old Fort is used as a cultural centre, hosting many Tanzanian drumming or dancing classes, films, music, dance events and much more.

In addition to music live shows, the festival includes several other activities both in Stone Town and in other locations in Zanzibar; the most popular of them being fashion shows and a carnival parade in the streets of Stone Town. Busara Xtra consists of events and performances organised by the local community and involve: traditional ngoma drum and dance, fashions shows, dhow races, open-mic sessions, after-parties, and performances of Zanzibar’s oldest Taarab orchestras (popular, traditional music). In addition there are the Songs for Peace competition, African Music Films, Seminars and Training Workshops, Movers & Shakers, and Festival marketplace.

During the Winter season, Tanzania doubles as a popular tourist hotspot due to the reputation of the Sauti za Busara Music Festival, offering visitors programs of cultural events which may be experienced in a warm, welcoming fashion. The tourism industry is constantly growing, up to the point where the Government of Zanzibar aims to become one of the top tourism destinations of the Indian Ocean. Whether it is to receive high quality tourist services or simply bask in the pleasure of listening to traditional African music, Stone Town has a great deal to provide.

What is the importance of music in the African culture?


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