The All Africa Music Awards excited many music lovers on Sunday when it held another edition in Lagos. It again drew attention not only to what represents the best of music that recently came out of the continent, but also a glimpse of what is to come.
Within the about three years of its existence, AFRIMA has been able to penetrate every part of the continent. The steady achievement of its tall ambition is evident in the high quality of entries that it was able to attract from far and near, as well as in the diversity of the crowd it was able to garner at the event held at The Eko Hotel and Suites. With Akon as the lead host and with Tuface, as well as many other Nigerian musicians, attending the event, the biggest winner at the award may just be AFRIMA itself. It proved that it has all it takes to rally the continent. And many who attended the show also gave it a pass mark in terms of organisation.
But AFRIMA is not for AFRIMA. It is for the musicians who entered their best, their fans and general lovers of music who are now conscious of its existence, thanks to the Lagos State Government that is currently its pillar of support. As many would have expected, the star winner is Ayodeji Balogun, popularly called Wizkid, who seems to have broken the jinx of the fatal failure that often becomes the lot of Nigerian singers who move abroad after breaking into the limelight at home. He won the Song of the Year, Best West African Male and the Artiste of the Year awards, courtesy of his Come Closer, in which he features Drake.
If you call it the international banana peel, you may not be wrong. Majek Fashek stepped on it, he fell. Lagbaja, Adewale Ayuba and others did, they came out wet in the ambition rain. Perhaps kudos should be given to D’Banj who, after suffering a big blow following his adventure abroad, confessed that it was unwise and too dangerous to leave Nigeria when one’s star was shining. According to him, the market an artiste needs is still the one at home.
But with Wizkid’s recent victories and AFRIMA’s verdict that anointed him, it shows that he may have smashed the jinx.
It is inspiring that Tiwa Savage, YCee, Wande Coal, 2baba, Simi and Orezi also won in different categories on Sunday. Tuface, indeed, appears to need the crest to assure his fans globally that he is still the king. Yet, AFRIMA also showed that it is capable of springing surprises.
This, for instance, happened in the Best African Pop category where Togolese group, Toofan defeated Nigeria’s Yemi Alade and Tiwa Savage with their (Toofan’s) TereTere. Experts and other people who have ears and eyes for good music surely needs to take another look at the winning video, to come to terms with what really makes it unbeatable for the leading stars.
The controversies that AFRIMA generated, including the one sparked by Davido, who is unhappy that the jury placed Wizkid’s Come Closer above his acclaimed If, are also going to be part of the story for long. Seyi Shay’s fall on stage, the tongue-wagging that greeted Tiwa Savage’s bare-footed show, all are now part of the awards’ legacy. The large crowd that attended it will, however, also not forget the beautiful performances that punctuated the awards inspired by Mike Dada, which also enjoys the partnership of the African Union.