By BENJAMIN NJOKU
Arguably the most prestigious music awards on the continent, the All Africa Music Awards, AFRIMA, pulled out all the stops last Sunday night to reunite music superstars across Africa after the pandemic.
This year’s AFRIMA, which held amid gaiety in Lagos, kicked off on the 19th of November and climaxed on Sunday, November 21, with the award night. But it was not without surprises.
After more than six years of gracing the continental music event, the surprising wins, spectacular performances, and head-turning red-carpet outfits that marked this year’s AFRIMA were something out of the ordinary.
The music’s hottest stars still managed to find a way to shock. Just as the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, venue of the biggest music event in Africa suddenly came back to life after being deserted following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Those who were expecting the big stars in Africa to win big on the night were disappointed.
From Malian rapper Ibaone who won five awards to Guinean singer, Steven Awuku and Flavour who won Best Artiste, Duo or Group in African Dance or Choreography’ this year’s AFRIMA was a glittering night of music, fashion and surprises.
Malian rapper, Ibaone stunned!
The surprise of the night was Malian singer, Iba One who emerged the top winner in five categories including ‘Best Male Artiste in Western Africa’, ‘Album of the Year’ and ‘Best Artiste, Duo, or Group in African Pop’. He also won in the ‘Best Male Artiste in African Inspirational Music’ and ‘Songwriter of the Year’ categories.
When he mounted the stage to receive his awards, the crowd scratched their heads, wondering who he was and how he could possibly have triumphed over the likes of Burna Boy, Davido, Fally Ipupa, Wizkid and Tiwa Savage. Little did they know that Ibaone is one of the formidable forces to be reckoned with when it comes to the Mali music sector. Displaying his intimidating five awards, Ibaone was indirectly telling who cares to listen that Mali’s music scene has come of age, and therefore, ready to overtake Nigeria as the leading music nation in Africa.
While Nigeria’s Wizkid who was nominated in six categories followed closely, winning in the ‘Best African Collaboration’, ‘Song of the Year’, and ‘Artiste of the Year’ categories with his hit song, ‘Essence’ featuring Tems. But many felt disappointed that Wizkid as usual was not present at the event to pick his awards.
Another surprise of the night was Kenyan teenage singer, Nikita Kering who bagged two awards in ‘Best Female Artiste in Eastern Africa’ and “Best Artiste, Duo, or Group in African RnB’ categories.
AFRIMA 2021 youngest nominee, 13-year-old Shanah Manjeru from Kenya emerged as the winner in the ‘Best African Female Artiste in Inspirational Music’ category.
Makhadzi on stage
South African songstress, Makhadzi’s dream came true when she won her first AFRIMA award and her joy knew no bounds. But her happiness almost turned to embarrassment as her boobs pulled out from her topless dress, while rushing to the stage to receive her award. But for her smartness to grab them immediately, it would have become the embarrassment of the night. She later gave an electrifying performance on night.
According to her, she has tried for seven years to be recognized by the AFRIMA to no avail.
“This is a dream come true. I have been trying my luck to be part of Afrima for the past seven years, God finally answered my prayers at the right time.”
D’banj falls in love with Rwandan damsel
Music heavyweight, D’banj has a way of keeping his audience on their toes whenever he’s performing on stage. And last Sunday night’s outing wasn’t different. The O’liver Twist’ crooner took the floor after Patoranking’s performance and the whole place erupted with applause. The audience resorted to singing along with him while performing some of his ever green songs. Soon, the Koko master in his tradition strayed into the crowd and dragged a Rwandan actress, Alliah Cool to the stage, where he began to dig it out with her. He would neither let her return to her seat nor end his performance when his time elapsed. He kept dancing and admiring the Rwandan beauty on stage. Unable to resist her beauty even when one of his Nigerian female admirers joined them on stage, D’banj quickly whispered to his manager to endeavour to collect her mobile number so that ” we can take her round the town.” Indeed, the Koko master’s epic performance was the talk of the night.
For her role in the movement to make Juneteenth a national holiday in commemoration of the June 19, 1865 announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army general, Gordon Granger, proclaiming freedom for slaves in Texas, African-American 95-year-old activist, Opal Lee was given AFRIMA Lifetime achievement award. The award was received by her granddaughter who flew into Lagos from the United States. Receiving the award on behalf of her 95 year old mother, she said ” my mother would have loved to be here to pick the award but for her age.”
In the same manner, Congolese Soukus singer, dancer, producer, and composer, Antoine Christophe Agbepa Mumba, known professionally as Koffi Olomide received AFRIMA 2021 Legend Award.
The award ceremony which was preceded by red carpet was electrified by many artistes with performances from Shanah, Patoranking, Makhadzi, Ruger, Zuchu, Ladipoe, Olakira, Chike, Blaq Diamond, Platini P, Calema, Remy Adan, Nomcebo of the Jerusalema fame, Zoe Modiga, Sorais Ramos, D’Banj, Cavemen and Aramide who rendered a song in honour of the late Sound Sultan and other music super stars that died in the year under review and during COVID-19 pandemic.
The President and Executive Producer of AFRIMA, Mike Dada, said: “AFRIMA was created to tell a positive African story through music rather than complain and lament about the negative perception of the continent by others.”
Since 2014, AFRIMA in conjunction with the African Union Commission has been regarded as the ultimate celebration of African talent in the continent and the diaspora.