On Saturday night (October 22), top African stars coalesced at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, South Africa for the 2016 edition of MTV Africa Music Awards.
On an exciting night, Nigeria cleaned up the winning list. Wizkid, from Nigeria, was the most decorated artiste on the night with three major awards: “Artist of the Year”, “Best Male” and “Best Collaboration”. Yemi Alade also from Nigeria beat Ghana's MzVee to cling the “Best Female” award while “Pana” hitmaker Tekno was named “Best Breakthrough Act”.
South Africa also fared quite well. Hip-hop star Cassper Nyovest picked up “Best Live Act” while Emtee won “Best Hip Hop”. Caster Semenya took home the “2016 Person of the Year”. Hugh Masekela was given the “Lifetime Achievement Award”.
Kenya didn’t disappoint either. Afro-pop band Sauti Sol was given the award for “Best Group”.
But on the night, Ghana’s topmost artistes MzVee, E.L, Sarkodie, R2Bees and Stonebwoy who were nominated for awards were missing from the winner' list. Even though Sarkodie had a great night by performing with Patoranking, he still came home empty-handed.
The only question Ghanaians might be asking is, “Where were our top men when Nigerians, South Africans and Kenyans were scoring high on the night?” This question is indispensable because they were the best candidates to represent the country.
But I think I’ve got the answer. The answer is disunity among artistes and the various fan armies. This disunity is even spearheaded by these artistes hence they lose prestigious awards like MTV Africa Music Awards.
Why am I saying this?
We are in a country with a population of 28 million and we are competing with countries like Nigeria whose population is over 188 million. Out of our 28 million population, about 25-40 per cent are actively following music. And out of the 25-40 per cent, each top artiste has about 2 per cent die-hard fans that would do anything they are ordered to do. The other percentage are okay with their lives without hearing Sarkodie’s fast rap or Shatta Wale’s constant yelling on Jamaican beats.
Now, when an artiste receives an international nomination, which may need the votes of the whole country especially music lovers, it never materialises. Why? Because these same artistes incite their fans to go against their rivals. They incite their fan armies to go against each other. We are in an industry where hate, greed, partiality and parochialism become the order of the day. Most Ghanaian artistes are not united, so as their fans.
But here is the case where the MTV Africa Music Awards winning process goes through voting. And, as explained, our little 25-40 percent (of the country's population) who follow musicians are divided. I know Shatta Wale’s fans didn’t vote for Stonebwoy because they see him as a rival instead of a countryman. M.anifest’s fans didn’t vote for Sarkodie because they always see themselves as enemies. Sarkodie and M.anifest’s fans didn’t vote for E.L because he was involved in their recent beef. Kaakie’s fans didn’t vote for MzVee because they are also beefing.
Beef is part of showbiz and beneficial but taking it too personal ruins the prosperous side of the business. Ghanaian Hip-hop (Hiplife) nearly died until the recent Sark-Mani beef revived it. What’s better than that?
But what do we see? Division! How can a divided country with 28 million population win any battle against united countries like Nigeria with 188 million, South Africa with 55 million, and Kenya with its 55 million population?
It doesn’t make sense right? Until we love, support each other and unite, our top artistes will always get international nominations due to their fine talent but will come home empty-handed.