I spent my evening attending the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) 2016 vicariously through (a bad) livestream, Snapchat, my Twitter timeline and Instagram stories. I have many thoughts. Here they are.
Stylish Red Carpet Moments
I love a clean, classic look, exemplified here by Sarkodie in this simple button down shirt and black cape.
No-one does eccentric menswear like my Instagram Crush, Trevor Stuurman! Yum.
I love this velvet black Marchesa dress on Bonang- she’s always fly.
Sizwe Dhlomo giving us serious Mobutu vibes. Fire emoji(s).
Sauti Sol’s Win
Congratulations to our fave boy band on clinching the coveted Best Group award!
Yemi Alade’s Clapback to President Buhari
A week ago we heard Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari saying his wife “belonged to his kitchen and his living room and his other room” after she criticised his political judgment in an interview with the BBC. There’s been widespread condemnation of his remarks from across the continent and Yemi Alade added her voice to the conversation during her speech for Best Female Artist.
“And women don’t forget, we are not only good in the kitchen, good in the living room and good in the other room; we are also good at anything we want to be.”
Yaass Yemi. Yaaass!
Domez (a sheng word; short for the english word ‘domestics’; synonymous with problems/issues)
No Papa Wemba tribute?!
The show also featured a beautiful tribute to Kwaito legend Mandoza, who passed way in mid-September following a long battle with cancer. As I watched the tribute, I couldn’t help but recall Papa Wemba’s death earlier this year and wonder- no Papa Wemba tribute?! They could surely have flown in DRC’s finest Fally Ipupa or organised for a group of artists from across the continent to sing a medley. At the very least, a slideshow or video montage! Papa Wemba is indisputably one of our continent’s most iconic artists. What a shame that a platform of this magnitude had no semblance of honour for his legacy.
In 2009, I accompanied my Mom and sisters to the MAMAs when it came to Nairobi. The show was in its’ second year and was seemingly making its way to a new location somewhere on the continent every year. But from 2014, the show has remained within South Africa’s borders. Clearly if Africa was a country, that country would be South Africa (or Nigeria, to be honest). There are probably valid reasons for this- South Africa’s entertainment scene (and economy, in general) has been one of the biggest on the continent. Both the breadth and depth of the industry (not just musicians, but producers, media personalities, designers, models) far exceeds most of the continent. It’s also probably cheaper for Viacom Networks (MTV’s holding company) to host in South Africa, because they won’t have to keep shuttling their staff up and down the continent.
Still, a brand that prides itself in celebrating contemporary music from across Africa shouldn’t be firmly rooted in one region of the continent. MTV Base should lend it itself to broader calls for cross-continental collaboration by using the award show as a platform for celebrating travel, music, fashion and tech in different regions of the continent. And although this would be an expensive endeavour a) MTV’s probably got the money, b) If they don’t, there are big brands who I’m sure would jump at the opportunity to use the appeal of entertainment as an entry point to other markets on the continent.
If we can host the World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali (2016) and Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi (2015), then we know that there are venues across the continent that have the capacity to host a couple hundred entertainers and a few thousand fans.
Local (Band$) Brands
Looking at the list of this year’s sponsors, I wish there were more homegrown African brands investing in platforms like the MAMAs. Money is not a problem (Hi Aliko Dangote, Strive Masiyiwa, Mohammed Dewji, Tony Elumelu & friends). I would love to see Elumelu’s Africapitalism embrace underserved but promising sectors such as entertainment. The private sector too often overlook the entertainment industry by failing to recognise and understand how pop culture shape Africans’ current and future imaginations.
Nonetheless, the brilliant Alex Okosi and his team at Viacom Networks do a phenomenal job putting this show together. Well done!
© Tessy Maritim