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Sauti za Busara

Posted on 15 Feb 2017 | 2 comments

One of East Africa’s biggest festivals takes place annually in Stone Town on Zanzibar. It is a music festival with local artists from Zanzibar and Tanzania, but it also brings other African artists together in a 4-day party.

We only discovered the festival was on very last minute, and even though we thought there wouldn’t be any tickets or hotels left, we decided to try to first find a hotel. Tickets we were told would be easy. You can just rock up on the day and buy them in the Old Fort, which was also the location of two of the stages.

After a bit of effort we did find a lovely hotel called Kholle House. It was built in 1860 by princess Kholle, the daughter of the first sultan of Zanzibar, and has been lovingly restored. The location was perfect too, just a 5 minute stroll to the Old Fort and the Forodhani Gardens and only a 2-minute walk from the ferry terminal.

We arrived on Saturday around lunch time and went for lunch after buying two tickets for that evening. The rest of the afternoon we relaxed in the hotel, enjoying the swimming pool, and wandered around the windy streets of Stone Town until it was time to head over for the first bands.

Jude and Jon enjoying a cocktail in the pool at Kholle House

Jude and Jon enjoying a cocktail in the pool at Kholle House

Every day they also have some bands playing in the Forodhani Gardens, and as this is a public space, anybody can enjoy this for free. The band playing that day was the Batimbo Percussion Magique from Burundi. They were lively, energetic, and full of great energy. Their drummers are excellent and the dancers fantastic to watch. And then Jon got invited to join them on the dance floor as well…

the drums skins are heated prior to the performance for better sound

the drums skins are heated prior to the performance for better sound

they have female and male dancers, both quite impressive

they have female and male dancers, both quite impressive

the drummers of Batimbo Percussion Magique from Burundi

the drummers of Batimbo Percussion Magique from Burundi

Jon joins the dancers

Jon joins the dancers

In the evening the Forodhani Gardens turn into an open-air restaurant, as always, and we decided to have dinner right there. We love walking around the stalls, looking at all the produce for sale before making a decision on what to eat. Jude opted for the traditional Zanzibar Mix, also known as Urojo locally.

this guy has been making urojo for many years

this guy has been making urojo for many years

The Zanzibar Mix (or urojo) is a sort of soup, a mixture of Indian, Arab and African flavours all blend into this one, delicious concoction. To prepare it from scratch would be quite an undertaking as you need to make a whole variety of toppings to add to the mix.

Ingredients to make the urojo sauce:

  • 4 heaped tablespoons of wheat flour (or 2 of gram flour plus 2 of atta flour)
  • 1 liter of warm water
  • ½ cup of coconut milk
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • dollop of garlic paste
  • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric
  • 2 boiled potatoes, chopped into small chunks

Bring water to a boil. Put the two types of flour in a bowl and add some water to make a thick, smooth paste. Add this paste slowly to the boiling water and mix well. Immediately add the coconut milk, lemon juice, garlic paste and turmeric powder. Slowly simmer for at least 25 minutes, it needs to be a thick sauce which doesn’t taste of raw flour. Add the potato chunks and boil for a few more minutes.

Once the sauce has been made, add the bhajias (deep-fried little balls), coconut chutney, boiled egg and kaukau (cassava chips). Add some chili sauce if you like.

Some people also add nuts, barbecued meat or coleslaw to the mix. It is also sometimes made with daal vada instead of bhajias and sev instead of kaukau. It basically seems a brilliant way of using a bunch of leftovers into one dish, which over the years has become its own dish!

The good thing is that the meat is optional, and so is every ingredient that goes into the sauce, making it a perfect vegetarian option that everybody can design according to their own taste.

Dessert was an unknown dish that just looked interesting. Deep-fried little dough balls that tasted delicious.

our dessert, no idea what it is called, but it was delicious

our dessert, no idea what it is called, but it was delicious

And then it was back to the music. We enjoyed some bands and endured others, but the atmosphere plus the fact that lots of our friends from Dar had also made it across for this weekend made it a fun event.

bands perform inside the Old Fort

bands perform inside the Old Fort

Jon and Jude inside the Old Fort at the Sauti za Busara music festival on Zanzibar

Jon and Jude inside the Old Fort at the Sauti za Busara music festival on Zanzibar

the local Taarab band performs on the other stage, let's just say this is not our favourite African music...

the local Taarab band performs on the other stage, let’s just say this is not our favourite African music…

2 Comments

  1. I would have loved to see Jon dance! Next time you need to make a video! 😉

    • hahahaha, I thought I was already pretty good with getting a picture! Jon dances a lot actually… you’ll need to come back. Every Wednesday night we go dancing 🙂

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