Zimbabwean musician Vusa Mkhaya rubbed shoulders with 400 of Africa’s most celebrated musicians in Tanzania where he was part of the annual Sauti za Bisara music festival that ended in Zanzibar on Sunday.
Rated as one of the most exciting music festivals in East Africa, the Sauti za Bisara festival had its eighth edition this year. It ran from Wednesday to last night.
In an interview with NewsDay, the Bulawayo-born musician said he was inspired by the need to foster African culture through music and dance, and was working wholeheartedly on improving people’s appreciation of traditional African music.
“Some traditional forms of expression are already being threatened with extinction as people, mostly youngsters, prefer modern, predominantly Western cultural forms. As Africans we need to proudly excel in expressing ourselves in our own ways,” said Mkhaya
“At the same time, we cannot turn a blind eye to the new forms of expression as they also bring about new avenues and prospects for Africans.
“It is thus essential to pursue African music genres that will match international standards and appeal to people across races.”
Mkhaya and his band are based in Vienna, Austria, and are known for their lively and energetic stage performances.
The band has members from Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Austria and Germany and their diverse backgrounds have allowed them to weave an international musical magic that is highly enjoyable and undeniably groovy.
In an official statement, festival director Yusuf Mahmoud said music festivals played an integral role in bridging the gap between people and nations and also helped in promoting tourism.
“Festivals invigorate young people’s interest in local culture, give opportunities for artists and music professionals to meet and learn from each other, keep traditions alive, create employment for local people and promote Zanzibar as a tourist destination.”
Other artists at the festival came from Tanzania, Uganda, the DRC, Ivory Coast and Senegal.
While promoting and preserving the music and cultural heritage of Zanzibar, Sauti za Bisara is playing its part in strengthening appreciation for music from all over Africa, promoting peace and social cohesion.
Some groups that performed at the festival are Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou (Benin), Blick Bassy of Cameroon, Otentikk Street Brothers from Mauritius, African Stars Band aka Twanga Pepeta (Tanzania), Mlimani Park Orchestra (Tanzania), Kwani Experience from South Africa and Zanzibar’s Culture Musical Club.