By Jonathan Mbiriyamveka & Sharon Kavhu
HARARE-ZIMBABWE’S Jah Prayzah, who was a no-show at last week’s MTV Africa Music Awards in South Africa, threw away an opportunity to walk the Africa stage in order to attend a low-key private function at a hotel in Harare.
The ‘Watora Mari’ hit maker wrote his own piece of history after scooping the coveted MAMAs Listeners Choice Award. He accepted the award in a pre-recorded video message played during the live broadcast of the awards show.
“It’s an honour to have won that award and when my manager came to break the news to me, I was so excited. Even our performance changed,” he told The Herald.
“Unfortunately, we could not afford to cancel the four shows we had on the day to go and attend the awards ceremony.”
The 2016 MAMAs were marred by absenteeism including by the host of the show, Trevor Noah, who pulled out at the eleventh hour citing a throat infection.
But Noah has already made it and does not need MTV’s help – which cannot be said about Jah Prayzah, for whom the three minutes on that stage would have been the biggest advert for his music to date.
There were mutterings and murmurings in music circles that the Listeners Choice category was an afterthought, considering that the nominees were only announced just a week or two before the awards show.
This was confirmed by Jah Prayzah’s manager, Keen Mushapaidze, who told H-Metro that their invitation came late.
“Not that we were not confident of winning, we could have attended because we were nominated,” he said. “The issue is that the last batch of the nominees was informed late and we had already organised events on the weekend of the awards.”
Critics say MTV Base, the organisers of the event, wanted the awards show to be inclusive by hand-picking nominees from small markets like Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Egypt and Namibia, among others.
Born Mukudzei Mukombe, Jah Prayzah’s MAMA was the first for a Zimbabwean artiste.
“It’s a blessing for our country to be recognised at the MAMAs for the first time in history. I’m honoured to be the first artiste to bring the award home,” he told The Southern Times.
The Zimbabwean talent had been nominated alongside 19 others – Adiouza (Senegal), Bebe Cool (Uganda), Burna Boy (Nigeria), Den G (Liberia), EL (Ghana), Jay Rox (Zambia), Kansoul (Kenya), Kiss Daniel (Nigeria), Lij Michael (Ethiopia), LXG (Sierra Leone), Meddy (Rwanda), Messias Marioca (Mozambique), Prince Kaybee (South Africa), Reda Taliani (Algeria), Saad Lamjaad (Morocco), Sabri Mosbar (Tunisia), Sidiki Diabate (Mali), Tamer Hosny (Egypt), The Dogg (Namibia) and Yamoto Band (Tanzania).
Jah Prayzah credits his collaboration with Diamond Platnumz of Tanzania on ‘Watora Mari’ for his breakthrough.
“The impact of my song ‘Watora Mari’ certainly widened my fan base in other African countries, and I’m grateful to Diamond for this outcome,” Jah Prayzah said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria scooped five awards for Artist of the Year and Best Male through Wizkid; Best Female, Yemi Alade; Best Collaboration, Wizkid with Maphorisa and DJ Buckz; Song of the Year, Patoranking featuring Wande Coal (‘My Woman My Everything’). Kenya’s Sauti Sol scooped Best Group while the Democratic Republic of Congo won Video of the Year for ‘Niquer Ma Vie’ by Youssoupha.
South Africa won five awards: Best Live Act, Best Hip-Hop, Best Pop and Alternative, Personality of the Year and Legend Award, which were won by Cassper Nyovest, Emtee, Shekhinah and Kyle Deutsch, Caster Semenya and Hugh Masekela, respectively.
Best Francophone went to Ivory Coast through Serge Beynaud and Best Lusophone went to Angola.