AFRIMA 2021… Day African Stars Came To Town
It was nearly 9:00 p.m. and the screams nearly threw one off the seat. In a flash, the entire auditorium was agog with excitement as the Rexxie-produced groove anthem, Ko Por Ke, rented the air.
The stage swarmed with multiple dancing troupes chaperoning the energetic performances of South Africa’s superstar Makhadi, and the Mozambique heavyweight DJ Tarico. From the swift footwork, to the loud lyrical chants of ‘Yaba Buluku’, the entire ambience pulsated with life.
From that Eko Convention Centre to the rest of the continent, the eight edition of the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) unfolded, with enough pomp, panache and prestige to last a lifetime.
Before talking about the winners, it is worth saying that AFRIMA deserves a nod for creating dramatic intros for its hosts. Watching the Egyptian caravan escort the screen goddess Pearl Thusi in a grand procession, instantly made one forget the 120 minutes spent waiting while the award was running behind schedule.
And now the winners are… sadly, not much from Nigeria. While Naija’s musicdom reigns supreme as the most commercially viable in Africa, the AFRIMA show helped to showcase all the other musical gems on the continent. It became another global export of music from across other entertainment hotspots in the continent, as they clinched most of the major categories.
Before the announcement of the awards was an intriguing performance from the Kizomba music maverick from Sao Tome and Principe called Calema. The duo also reeled out an enigmatic performance of their hits. Their performance was drenched in a soothing Calypso vibe, with the ballerina display becoming a perfect icing on the cake.
With Fireboy DML winning the first award for the home front that night, the auditorium lit up with excitement. The YBNL frontliner clinched the award for the African Fans Favourite category.
Fanning the embers of excitement that night was the 13-year-old chanteuse, Shanah Manjeru, becoming the youngest ever AFRIMA winner. The Kenyan singer clinched the award for the Best African Female Artiste in Inspirational Music.
Africa’s starboy, Wizkid, netted a nice hat trick with his wins that night. After clinching the acclaimed Artiste of the Year award, he also bagged the Song of the Year award, as well as the Best African Collaboration for his smash hit with Tems dubbed, Essence.
Closing the curtains for Team Nigeria that night was the iconic producer duo, Legendary Beatz, who clinched the Best Producer of the Year award, for his work on Wizkid’s Essence, as well as Superboy Cheque and Flavour, for the Best Artiste in African Hip Hop, and Best Artiste in African Dance respectively.
Meanwhile, one was left mouth agape as the Malian singer, Iba One, secured five wins that night in sensitive categories. He was awarded for the Album of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Best Artiste in African Pop, Best Male West African Artiste, as well as Best Male Artiste in African Inspirational Music.
Kenya’s Nikita Kering also pulled a major With more performances from Ruger, who brought on a natural sensual vibe on stage, with his choreography and energy, to Olakira activating the crowd with his heartfelt rendition of In My Maserati, to Patoranking whose live performance backed up by a choir uplifted the euphoria in the crowd.
The show also paid homage to the late Afro-fusion legend, Sound Sultan, with an emotive performance of his hits such as Motherland among others, by Nigerian Soul queen, Aramide.
One major takeout from the 2021 AFRIMA award is the necessity for African artistes to support homegrown award platforms. During the award show, a plethora of nominated Nigerian acts were absent; some were represented. Even those who won were not present to receive their awards.
Another thing that Nigerian artistes need to improve upon is their lateness to events. Apparently, ‘African Time’ is not so African after all; it’s a Nigerian thing, as all other African acts were already present for the red carpet as at when due.
With the 2022 AFRIMA awards in view, much hope abounds for Nigerian artistes to clinch more awards for their deserving works. Considering the international exposure that Nigerian music has received, these are indeed exciting times. And it will become even more exciting if we also learn to give ourselves our own roses!