The 10th edition of the Sauti za Busara (Sounds of Wisdom) music festival starts today and over 400 musicians from East Africa and elsewhere

will serenade music lovers over the weekend until the 17th February 2013. Held annually on the quaint, rustic island of Zanzibar, Sauti za Busara boasts one of the most diverse and expansive musical line-ups known to African music festivals. Hundreds of musicians, artists and art lovers have converged on the island in a dazzling spectacle of African music and culture. The main shows are supplemented by several smaller fringe performances in Zanzibar’s capital town. For people living outside of East Africa, especially in the southernmost tip of the continent, it may not get as much press as that other music festival in Cape Town. Here are our picks of must-sees for the 2013 festival:

Nathalie Natiembé
Réunionese musician Nathalie Natiembé’s voice could crumble a mountain. Her chilling, commanding voice over funky could-be jazz, could-be maloya, could-be reggae sounds, have attracted fans the world over. She sings mostly in Creole and her performances are as theatrical as Freddie Mercury’s, yet her music is as arresting as a well-made thriller. Watch her perform Galo at Sakifo 2010 for a taste.

Cheikh Lo

The Senegalese musician is perhaps one of the more popular and enduring acts on the Sauti za Busara list. He has been making music for as long as anyone can remember, playing his hand in several bands until he eventually pursued a solo career. Apart from singing and writing his

own songs, Cheikh Lo is a talented drummer, percussionist and guitarist. Watch him perform Sankara live.

Khaira Arby

After the recent upheaval in northern Mali, Khaira Arby “the Voice of the North” was banned on Malian radio. She was not the only one. Militant Islamists in the country have banned everything they claim is against Sharia or Islamic law and that includes music. This forced several artists to flee the north and ‘desert blues’ singer Arby was forced to leave her home in Timbuktu. Here is her video Aigna

Burkina Electric

Also performing

at the festival are six African and European performers, collectively known as Burkina Electric. The members are from Burkina Faso, Germany and Austria. Burkina Electric’s music has been described as a very eccentric combination of modern electronic sounds and traditional Burkinabe melodies and rhymes. They also have dancers in the group who will certainly thrill audiences during the festival.
Here is a video of their song Ligdi 

Also take a listen to this preview of the 2013 show by Pystol Pete

Sauti za Busara Festival preview 2013 - words and music published on Mambo Magazine by Pystol Pete on Mixcloud

For those of you who are lucky enough to attend, you can download the festival programme from the Sauti za Busara website 


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