Funding woes threaten Sauti za Busara

A performer with Liza Kamikazi from Rwanda at Sauti za Busara (2015) in Zanzibar. Photo: Abigail Snyder

A lack of funding and a lack of vision threaten next years’ Sauti za Busara festival. Pictured, a performer with Liza Kamikazi from Rwanda at Sauti za Busara (2015) in Zanzibar. Photo: Abigail Snyder

One of this continent’s top music festivals, Sauti za Busara, may not take place in 2016 due to a lack of funding.

Sauti za Busara has also been bled dry by local authorities with a ‘lack of vision’ seeking short-term financial gains and the 2016 festival may need to be cancelled, says the CEO of Busara Promotions, Yusuf Mahmoud.

“Each year our local government authorities demand ever-higher contributions from the festival in withholding taxes, licenses, work permits, policing and security, venue rental fees – even for putting posters on the streets,” says Mahmoud, speaking to Music In Africa magazine.

“Support from embassies and commercial sponsors has reached an all-time low.”
“We’ve always had zero financial support from the governments in Zanzibar and Tanzania, and support from embassies and commercial sponsors has reached an all-time low.”

An emergency meeting with government and business leaders will be held in Stone Town on Thursday, August 13, says Mahmoud.

“Local representatives from the international donor community tell us it’s clear that Sauti za Busara is run professionally, delivers on its promises and is enormously popular. Ironically, their assumption is therefore that the festival ‘does not need support’.”

Between ten to twenty pledges of about $10 000 to $20 000 USD are required to allow the 2016 festival to go ahead.

“At the same meeting, we’ll have to announce that if funds cannot be committed before 20 August, then (a) the 2016 edition will sadly be cancelled, and (b) by any means necessary, the festival will be back in Zanzibar, wiser and stronger, in February 2017.”

Music in Africa Magazine says it’s estimated that the festival has generated $70 million USD (147 billion TSH) for Zanzibar.

Dubbed as one of Africa’s top annual music festivals, Sauti za Busara has been an annual fixture in Zanzibar since 2004.

Potential donors can reach Mahmoud at: busara@busara.or.tz.

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