Monday, November 24, 2008

Wahu wins MTV Award, controversy over "live" Award

Kenyan singer Wahu Mathenge won the best female artist prize at the inaugural MTV Africa Music Awards.

Wahu, who was nominated in two categories for her song Sweet Love, fought off stiff competition from Nigerians Asa and Sasha, Dama Do Bling from Mozambique and South African Zonke to claim the award last Saturday night at The Velodrome, in Abuja, Nigeria. The best male award went to Nigerian DJiban, who trounced our own Jua Cali, among others, in the Zain sponsored event.

For Wahu, this was probably the sweetest victory in her career, and as expected, she dedicated the award to her musician husband Nameless and their daughter Tamiso, who the song is all about. Sweet Love has been Wahu’s biggest song. It has received two nominations — the British Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards and Kora Awards. The MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) focused on contemporary African and international genres chosen by the MTV audience in sub-Saharan Africa.

Nigerian artists dominated the the Mamas on their own turf in the capital city Abuja, scooping six of the 10 awards. Kenyan singer Wahu, tearfully dedicated the award to her husband, fellow musician Nameless, and to her daughter who, she said, “is too young to understand how much she inspires me”. D’banj won both the artist of the year award and the best male award, crowning a successful year for the self-proclaimed “entertainer”. Fellow Nigerian rapper Naeto C won best new act, while 9ice won the best Hip-hop award.

The live award went to a “group that plays CDs and mimes”.

BBC 1Xtra’s Trevor Nelson hosted the show in front of a crowd of 5,000 fans in the stylishly shaped Abuja Velodrome. Nigerian duo P-Square, who had five nominations, only managed to take home one prize for best group. Despite not winning, the disappointed twin brothers thrilled the crowd with their stage act. South Africa hip-hoppers Jozi won the award for the best live performers. However, Ghanaian artist Samini revealed he was not happy the live award had gone to a “group that plays CDs and mimes”. He added: “If you say ‘live’ then the music has to be with a band. I’m not picking names, but I think that the best live performer should go to a live band artist. I’m sorry if I’m being harsh here but I’m trying to be straightforward. If I watch you on TV and I see you with a live band, then you better do it on stage for me.”

There was a also cameo appearance by US rapper The Game, who gave a brief medley of his hit songs. There were also performances by the rapper’s compatriots Flo-rida, and Kelly Rowland. Other live acts included Seun Kuti, 9ice, as well as HHP from South Africa, but it was the assortment collaborations that stole the show. HHP came back on stage to join Nigerian singing sensation Asa on her song Jailer, and Rowland performed alongside D’banj.

But the biggest fusion was that of South African rockers Cassette, Kenyan rapper Jua Cali, and Ikechukwu and Naeto C. American R&B singer Alicia Keys gave a video acceptance speech for winning the best R&B award, as did South African band Seether, who won the best alternative award. The legend gong went to the late Fela Kuti, the Nigerian pioneer of Afrobeat. The award was received by the star’s children, Yemi and Seun. Speaking of Kuti, Nelson said: “He was the first man I ever heard, all the way from the UK, when I heard African music for the first time it came from this man.”

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