The Sauti za Busara international music festival happened over the weekend at the Old Fort, Zanzibar.
It is a great time for music lovers to catch up with inspiring African music, as well as get introduced to new sounds. Better still, it is a chance for different African acts to connect; for instance, many Tanzanian artistes come to Busara to create bridges with the African industry whose growth is tremendous.
In Uganda, however, even when festivals like Busara or, locally, Bayimba, are readily available and affordable, they are dos they hardly consider, unless they have been selected to perform.
But imagine what Bebe Cool would learn from Grammy-nominated Ghanaian reggae star Rocky Dawuni or the kind of ideas Jose Chameleone would exchange with Loryzine band from Reunion island.
Like members of Kenyan outfits Serabi and H_Art the Band concur, the festival is a challenge as much as it is an opportunity; for instance, when the latter first stepped on stage, they were new to many in the audience, but left with adoring fans.
We have artistes that have in the past reasoned they do not need East African fans when they have the Ugandan audience, and you can’t blame them; but they need the Busara exposure if they are to improve their performance quality even for just the home fans.
Busara is not for pretenders; it attracts some of the best acts on the continent. For this year’s edition, organisers and artistes aimed to create an experience the audience could go home with, but unfortunately there were no Ugandan acts to study and learn how this is achieved.
At Sauti za Busara, artistes played out of the proverbial boxes; they did mash ups of instrumentation to change their song genres and make them more danceable for an already-charged audience. H_Art the Band, for instance, had some of their songs played in a fusion of reggae and Afropop and even got away with the long spoken word verses.
Uganda’s artistes would have learnt from Sauti Za Busara that their art is a job and each performance matters; they would have understood that people don’t come to see what they have listened to on CDs but to see what else you can do with your sound. Above all, they would have learnt that a good performance does not necessarily have to go on for ages.
Originally published by The Observer