In the 21st century, music festivals are an important cultural and tourist events throughout the continent as it helps to keep traditions alive. Festival is now a sector which is are fast developing sector as the society tries to take advantage of their positive impacts. This is as a result of the fact that the nature of festivals revolves around culture and each specific element which is celebrated during a festival constitutes a part of the culture of a people.
Festivals as a means of promoting tourism
It is believed that the most important impact of a festival is the increase in media coverage generated by the event. Hence, this wide exposure helps to promote the country at regional, national and at global levels.
Most countries have today understood the importance of festivals as a means to attract tourism. The frequent organization of a festival is a good way to attract visitors and thereby increase the number of tourists.
When a country becomes a tourism destination, the economic impact is also felt. It has been noted that revenues from festivals continues to increase greatly as research indicated that festivals can provide financial injections. For instance, annual Wacky Wine festival in Robertson, Western Cape brought in an additional income of close to R20 million (about 1.3 million dollars) to the budget of the area.
Furthermore, according to an impact study carried out by TREES, the 2013 Cape Town International Jazz festival organized which brought in about 35 000 visitors from all over the world, contributed R522 million (36 million dollars) to the Western Cape economy and created 2,721 jobs as well.
Some well-known music festivals in the continent
- Sauti za Busara – Zanzibar
Sauti za Busara which means “sounds of wisdom” is a festival which brings people together to celebrate African music. The annual festival held every February in Zanzibar, Tanzania is considered as one of the largest music festivals in East Africa and brings to light exclusively African music. The festival which started in 2003, brings together musicians from all over the continent and gives priority to culturally significant music. The festival also has other aspects such as capacity building sessions and workshops which serves as a platform for the exchange of best practices and knowledge sharing among music professionals from all over the world. Taking place for over 4 days, the East African festival brings live music to all participants.
- Cape Town Jazz Festival – South Africa
Recognized as the fourth largest jazz festival in the world and the largest jazz festival in Africa, it is an annual music festival held in Cape Town, South Africa. It is a two days event which takes place in March and features global Jazz stars. Events during the gathering include a concert held at the Green Market, the Duotone photographic exhibition held at the Duotone Gallery which gives the possibility for artists to display their works and the jazz gala dinner which takes place at the Westlake Golf Club. It has also developed over the years since its first edition in 2000 to host various capacity building workshop sessions for artists. Although Jazz is the main focus of the festival, they equally host artists from other genres as well.
- Bushfire – Swaziland
The festival is usually a 3 days event that highlights Swati music, arts, culture, crafts and, foods. Bringing together close to 25 000 music and art lovers, the MTN Bushfire Festival which earned the title of “Africa’s Top Festival” by the BBC not only celebrates music but equally promotes social responsibility with all profits accrued donated to Swaziland charities.
- Lake of Stars – Malawi
The three-day international festival which takes place yearly is held on the shores of Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa. The event brings together performers from all over Africa and the world and features activities such as bands, taking a dip in the lake or participating in one of the projects of the event. Aimed at attracting international audiences to local arts and culture of the country, the festival showcases talents from Malawi through live music, film, theatre and, exhibitions.
- Fez Festival of World Sacred Music – Morocco
Fez Festival of World Sacred Music takes place every year in the Moroccan city of Fez and is characterized by open-air performances held in the scenic Jnan Sbil Gardens and at the Bab al Makina, during the day and in the evening respectively. The 10 days festival features art, entertainment, spiritual energy and intellectual challenges that all together gives an incredible experience.
African music is revolutionizing and still remains one of the means to assemble the masses. In the past, it was used to show solidarity and transmit vital messages in the society, but today, it mostly serves as a means of leisure and relaxation bearing very little cultural significance.
Article from AFRIC editorial.
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