Sauti za Busara, one of Africa’s leading festivals kicked off on Thursday at Tanzania’s Zanzibar Old Fort in Stone Town, bringing together a wide array of artistes from across the African continent.
Yusuf Mahmoud, Director of the Sauti za Busara festival, called on visitors from all corners of the world to join in numbers to witness and participate in the unique spectacle. “Today, we kick off a unique and special time in the year when Zanzibar hosts four days and nights of non-stop African music under African skies,” Mahmoud told a news conference. He added that the festival has three stages with 100 percent live music for everyone, including free performances every day at Forodhani Gardens on the Spice Islands. He said the festival was set to pay tribute to some of the recently departed African stars who left their mark on the world music industry. “As we celebrate the rhythms and vitality of African music, we also acknowledge the enormous contribution made by figures who departed this world during the past 12 months,” said Mahmoud.
Sauti za Busara 2020 runs under a strong campaign theme “Raise your Voice, Say No to Sexual Harassment”; a vice that continued to cripple the music industry, he said. “Many female artists in Africa and beyond struggle under the weight of sexual harassment in an industry that remains male dominated,” said Mahmoud. He added that the victims of these injustices were often unable to speak out because the consequences for their careers or personal lives can be devastating. Mahmoud said in most cases faced with limited choices, victims ended up leaving their place of work or the industry in general, yet there were very few consequences for the perpetrators.
Elisabeth Jacobsen, the Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania, said she was excited to be attending the festival again and promised to stand together with organizers of the festival to support empowerment for women in the music industry and beyond. “Discrimination and harassment prevent girls and women from practicing their cultural rights, including freedom of expression whilst also hindering economic development,” she said. Jacobsen said recognizing Sauti za Busara has become an important music ecosystem for the region, urging public officers, businesses communities and donors in particular to work together to promote access to cultural rights and empower women in the cultural sector.