The 2017 Festival took place on 9-12 February, and succeeded in gathering over 400 artists from more than 20 countries. An estimated 20 000 people attended this magnificent event. The festival had a strong regional commitment, with 70% of the audience and the music from East Africa. Sauti za Busara featured a broad spectrum of music genres, from the traditional Tausi Women’s Taarab group, an all-women’s taarab orchestra playing the distinct and famous Zanzibari music style, to vocalist and songwriter Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band from Ghana/Germany who served songs in the afrobeat/afro-pop genre.
Other notable performances included CAC Fusion, who with their high energy performance that featured a fusion of Tanzanian traditional and modern music and dance, made the audience dancing during the performance. Bob Maghrib, a group from Morocco that blended the sounds and rhythms of the beloved Bob Marley with traditional and unique North-African music styles like Gnawa and Berber. And Karyna Gomes from Guinea-Bissau, who received excellent reviews from world music media for the album she released in 2014 named ‘Mindjer’, and on the festival`s last day performed her fusion music with traditional and urban influences.
Freedom of expression is an essential human right, and one that Busara Promotions has a strong commitment to. This is evident from the presence of artists like Kyekyeku from Ghana. He delivered a strong political message during his performance, where he advocated for women`s rights and empowerment, at the same time as he delivered strong criticism of corrupt leaders, policies leading to gentrification, and NGOs and other donors that fail to achieve their stated goals due to excessive spending on administration.
The festival grounds are in Stone Town inside the historic Old Fort, which makes for a unique concert experience. Food stalls and vendors provide refreshments and shopping opportunities in between the concerts. It is estimated that the festival injects more than USD $7 million into the local economy, and out of the 140 crewmembers that are employed by the festival, 90% are local Tanzanians. This shows that Sauti za Busara is not only a valuable cultural event, but also makes a social and economic impact on the local community.