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AFRIMA 2016… African stars light up Lagos


Manu Dibango, KSA, Papa Wemba, Wizkid, Others On Winners List

The Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, was beehive of activities recently, as African music stars, celebrities and stakeholders in the entertainment industry, converged at the upscale event venue for this year’s edition of the All Africa Music Award (AFRIMA), which was hosted by the Lagos State Government.

Right from the Ahmadu Bellow Way end, to the Bar Beach Corner, up till Eko Hotel Roundabout on Ademola Adetokumbo Street, traffic was tight, as fun loving Lagosians and international guests struggled to gain access into the venue. Even adjourning streets such as Tiamiyu Savage Street and the rest felt the heat.

While early callers managed to get parking space inside the hotel car park, others had to make do on the streets, though under the watchful eyes of Area Boys, who make brisk money keeping watch. Almost all the bank premises along that stretch were used as parking lot; for sure, night security guards had good smiles. Thanks to security operatives and LASTMA officials, who ensured the roads were not completely blocked.

Though the Eko Hotel is known for hosting major crowd pulling events, the 2016 AFRIMA presented a different scenario; the set up was different from the usual. Unlike the days when you were allowed to drop off guests by the hotel lobby, on this day, it was a ‘no, no.’ In fact, the entire lobby area, including the roundabout within the premises, formed part of the red carpet, where celebrities granted interviews and exhibited their fashion sense. It was a celebration of African culture and heritage.

For hours, guests remained on the red carpet, networking and sharing jokes. However, this night not was not just for the entertainment industry; political leaders and captains of industries were fully represented. Simply put, the red carpet was as rich as it should be.

By the time the Deputy Governor of Lagos State Oluranti Adebule, arrived, the atmosphere was already fully charged. In their usual manner, men of the DSS tried to halt guests from accessing the red carpet to allow madam Deputy go first, but she wouldn’t have any of that.

“Don’t stop them; allow people to go,” she ordered, as she stepped out of the black SUV into and moved straight into the hall. Such simplicity.

Also present at the event was the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who came in the company of his wife; Information And Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Senator Godswill Akpabio, Africa Union officials and a host of other notable dignitaries.

Nigeria’s Ayo Balogun, known globally as WizKid, emerged the Best Artiste in Africa, Diamond Platnumz, the Tanzanian kid dynamite’s song, Utanipenda, won the Song of The Year, while Moroccan star, Ahmed Soultan won the Album of The Year award.

Altogether, Nigeria remains the dominant force in Africa music, carting away nine of the awards, the most by any country, out of which Afropop singer, Flavour, won two. Morocco/Cameroon came a 2nd with four awards each, while South Africa’s Black Coffee, VVIP from Ghana, Uganda’s Cindy Sanyu, Bruna Tatiana of Central Africa, Zainab, Benin Republic and Farz are some of the winners of these prestigious awards.

Hosted by Bonang Matheba, Ahmed Soultan, and Ika Jong, the night also saw ageless Manu Dibango (Cameroon) win the AFRIMA Legendary Award. Juju Music maestro, King Sunny Ade (Nigeria), who clocked 70 years in September 2016, was honored with a tribute song session during the event by star artistes, Sheyi Shay and Brymo. The master guitarist got a special recognition award for his unparalleled contribution to world music.

Meanwhile, Late Papa Wemba, one of Africa’s best artistes from Democratic Republic of Congo, who died while playing on stage in April 2016, was also given a post-humours Honour and Award; his wife Marie Lozolo received the award on his behalf.

In his acceptance speech, Manu Dibango revealed that the Legendary Award conferred on him at AFRIMA 2016, was the first award of any kind in music, to him, from Africa, though he had won nearly all global music laurels.

“I thank AFRIMA for this award because it means so much to me. This is the first award I have ever gotten in Africa,” he enthused.

Dibango stormed the world with an Afro rock hit tune, Soul Makossa, in the mid 1970s and with his characteristics saxophone tones, went on to hold the music world spellbound with the Makossa Rhythm and Dance, in the years following the release of that hit tune. The 83-year-old was completely in his elements on the AFRIMA stage, as he reenacted the fire of yesteryears.

In the same vein, King Sunny Ade is also counting AFRIMA Special Recognition Award as one of his career’s blessings. KSA personally witnessed a Tribute Session, which was headlined by African music acts Brymo and Seyi Shay, while he did a dance medley to the tune. Sheer dexterity of Sunny Ade’s shuffle to the song left guests in awe, especially Africa’s Waka Queen, Salawa Abeni, who joined him on stage for a dance.

However, the tempo of the evening wore a somber look when Africa’s Jules Shungu Wemabadio Pene Kikumba, aka Papa Wemba, was mentioned for a post-humous Special Recognition award. He was honoured for his influence on world music. His wife, Mama-Marie Loxolo and daughter, Orphèe, received the award on behalf of the family.

Papa Wemba, who was called the King of Rumba Rock, long before boxing all time legend, Mohammed Ali, made the name popular in his historic fight Rumble in the Jungle.

The All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) was established, in conjunction with the Africa Union (AU), to celebrate and reward the creative impetus of Musicians in Africa, annually. Started in 2014, this edition, the third, like in the previous, had 30 categories contested for.

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