AFRIMA: Giving Africa something to dance to

Olumide Iyanda

Email: Twitter: @mightyng

Former Lagos State Governor, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will receive the prestigious award as Pillar of Art and Culture in Africa to be conferred on him by the African Union Commission (AUC) at the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) on Sunday, November 15, 2015 at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

According to organisers of the award, the National Leader of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was selected among “a pool of hundreds of illustrious sons and daughters of Africa considered for the award, who are lovers of arts and culture for social change”.

Tinubu, who ran the affairs in Nigeria’s commercial capital from 1999 to 2007, is known to have stimulated conversations among Africans and between Africa and the rest of the globe. His administration turned the annual Eyo Festival into an artistic showpiece attracting thousands of visitors from home and abroad. Out of office, Tinubu supported the staging of Fela on Broadway for the first time in Africa in Lagos in 2011. He also supported projects like Umoja and Saro the Musical.

From Nigeria to the United States, Ghana to the United Kingdom, Tinubu has championed the potential of African culture and artistic legacy for the purpose of creating jobs, reducing poverty and inspiring social change and development; calling the attention of world leaders to Africa and promoting the positive image of the continent to the world for global competitiveness.

That is what AFRIMA is about. Little wonder the politician is honoured at the recognition to be personally bestowed on him on November 15. He communicated his acceptance via a letter that reads: “I accept this honour and look forward to the award. I identify with the mandate of AFRIMA working through the instrumentality of the African Union to showcase, preserve and globalise Africa’s rich heritage in the aspects of music and culture.”

Joining Tinubu at Eko Hotels for the event expected to be broadcast to 84 countries and 190 television stations across the world are Ladysmith Black Mambazo, arguably the most decorated male group in Africa. They will lead 162 African superstars who have confirmed attendance at AFRIMA 2015.

Yemi Alade from Nigeria and Cameroon’s Charlotte Dipanda will also grace the AFRIMA stage. The duo of Diamond Platnumz, a Bongo Flava recording artist and dancer from Tanzania and Olamide from Nigeria will also be performing.

Artistes and nominees that that have confirmed attendance from Eastern Africa include Vanessa Mdee, Bebe Cool, Tsedenia, Alikiba, H_Art the Band, Dr. Jose Chameleone, Danny Kalima, Makadem, Lilian Mbabazi, Sauti Sol, Cindy, Lulu & the Zakaleo Band, Liron, Suzanna Owiyo, Ben Pol, THT and Teddy Afro.

From Southern Africa are top acts like AKA, Busiswa, Amantle, Cindy Munyavi, Gazza, Blade Deep/Delura, The Soil, Kunle Ayo, Cassper Nyovest, and KO while representing Central Africa are Awilo Longomba, Stanley Enow, NG Bling, Jovi, Daphne, M’vula, Betty Akna, Mani Bella, Featurist, Vumomse, Missy BK, and DJ Malvado.

Confirming attendance from West Africa region are Sarkodie, Stoneboy, Toofan, Kiff No Beat, Dark Suburb “The Skeleton”, DJ Arafat, Wiyaala, Sekou Kouyate and Gangbe Brass Band.

Flying the Nigerian flag are Davido, Wizkid, P-Square, Timaya, Nneka, Flavour, Darey, Brymo, Seyi Shay, Wande Coal, Praiz, Niyola, Patoranking, Adekunle Gold, Kiss Daniel, Aramide, Timi Dakolo and J. Martins.

A combined effort of passionate professionals across the country, AFRIMA began with 44 countries vying for hosting right. Nigeria won the right to host the first three editions from 2014 to 2016 after a keenly contested competition. The first edition held in Lagos last year had the theme “For Hope, For Celebration”. The three-day programme brought stakeholders together at the AFRIMA Village. There was also the AFRIMA Music Summit and the award ceremony proper.

A total of 31 awards were presented at the 2014 edition. Twenty-one went out in continental categories while two were presented in each of the five regional categories.

The coming together of artistes across the continent is breaking boundaries long erected along political lines. Diamond Platnumz feels at home in Nigeria the way P-Square does in Gambia. When they step on AFRIMA stage, Kwaito, Highlife, Soukous and Juju find expression in contemporary music. Africa’s cultural diversity is celebrated in one voice built on the threefold union of art, economy and global peace.

One man who should know is Irish rock star and co-founder of ONE Campaign International, Bono, who said during a visit to Nigeria that “AFRIMA has a tune that will resonate around the world. It is an excellent initiative”.

AFRIMA recognises that Africa’s stories are best told through the art. The continent hardly comes up in terms of global political and economic stability. Where oil, gas, agriculture and other natural resources have failed to yield the returns the people wanted, non-traditional sectors like music and films have contributed to the continents GDP.

AFRIMA is making traditional and contemporary music an integral part of economic development and social progress. The 23.9 karat gold plated trophy designed inspired by Mali’s Djembe drum and the microphone bears testimony to that.

The journey has taken organisers to Uganda, Morocco, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria for stakeholders’ and media summits. Entries rose from 2,025 in 2014 to 2,558 this year. A total of 32 awards divided into regional and continental categories will be given out on Sunday November 15.

All is set. The artistes will get on stage, speak with one voice and the world will listen. It’s time for Africa to party.