By Benjamin Njoku
Although the show was scheduled to commence at 7.30 p.m. after a three-hour red carpet session, it didn’t until almost 9.00 p.m and even at that the guests were not complaining. However, when it finally did, the first performance, a beautiful choreography championing African unity and growth, compensated for the nearly two hours late start.
Thereafter, Ethiopia’s Betty G, who won Africa’s Best album of the Year, thrilled the crowd with her sonorous voice, followed by Nigeria’s 2Baba, Fally Ipula, Mr Real, Ghana’s King Promise, Wiyaala, Morocco’s Hamza El Fadly, Uganda’s Bebe and Togo’s Too Fan.
Ghana’s young disc jockey, DJ Switch, also thrilled patrons to good sounds from her turntables at the event, which was hosted by Ghanaian-born US comedian, Michael Blackson, South Africa’s TV personality, Pearl Thusi and Ghana’s media personality, Anita Erskine.
The 11-year-old DJ, was bold on stage. She could not mince words when she was jokingly asked to name what she would go for if she had the opportunity. She went on to say:“I want to buy Land Rover Sport.”
The auditorium erupted in laughter as her exit paved the way for the South African pop legend, Yvonne Chaka Chaka to warm the stage once again. Looking gorgeous in her outfit, Chaka Chaka, who also received the 5th AFRIMA Legendary awards, which ironically was presented to her by her first son, stepped onto the stage and reeled out some old numbers that relived memories of her anti-apartheid struggle in her home country.
Performing one of her evergreen songs, “Free Mandela”, the music star, who’s “dubbed Princess of Africa” held the audience spellbound, with many standing and cheering her up. It was an emotional moment for the music legend who’s popular for her evergreen songs like ‘I’m Burning Up’, ‘Thank You Mr Dj’, ‘I Cry For Freedom’, ‘Motherland’ and the ever-popular ‘Umqombothi and Bobi Wine.’
Meanwhile, another emotional moment was when a special recognition award was given to one of Ghana’s ace musicians, Teddy Osei, leader of the famous Osibisa group, an Afropop band created in 1969. The veteran who was helped to the stage in a wheelchair had been suffering from a mild stroke, but was overwhelmed by such great honour.
Ovation greeted him on stage. It was emotional seeing the legend. Also, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State was awarded a special recognition for his contributions towards the growth and development of the Arts and Tourism sector of Lagos state, most importantly the role Lagos state played as official host of AFRIMA in its last 4 years from 2014 – 2017.
The glamorous event was graced by the Second Lady of Ghana, Mrs Samira Bawumia, Mrs Catherine Afeku, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, government officials,music stars and delegates, African Union officials, members of the International Committee of AFRIMA, the media, among others.