I left Accra last Sunday night and arrived in Johannesburg in the morning of Monday and by afternoon, I had arrived together with a 25-member team from Ghana and Nigeria, in Durban. We are here to take part in the annual tourism event organised by South African Tourism known as INDABA.
INDABA 2017 will end this evening, but the team, made up of tour operators, regulators and media, will stay on till Tuesday to enjoy some experiences across the KwaZulu Natal Province (kingdom of the Zulus) as put together by our host.
While I have been here though, I have been following events from home, especially on the entertainment front and there is no bigger issue in that regard back in Ghana than the brouhaha that has emerged following the nomination of Stonebwoy in the Best International Act – Africa category for the 2017 BET Awards.
Out of the eight nominees in this category, Stonebwoy is the only Ghanaian along with three from South Africa namely Babes Wodumo, Nasty C and AKA as well as a quartet from Nigeria namely Wizkid Dayo, Mr Eazi, Tekno and Davido.
Since the release of the nominations on Monday, there have been a massive debate on three fronts and my piece today is to try and make some sense out of what has been happening. Let me first put it on record that I am as ignorant about what goes into nominating an artiste for any of the categories of BET Awards as the next guy, not least the African category.
The arguments about the nominations arose mainly because the person, only person that is, nominated from Ghana was Stonebwoy. Let’s face it, it has been so because Shatta Wale’s name was conspicuously missing from the list.
There were reports last week that Mark had been appointed as part of the team to select artistes from Ghana to be nominated for the BET this year. The reports named Mark as the source when he spoke on Peace FM’s Entertainment Review show and mentioned same.
Mark, however, came out to deny that he ever said that and that what he said was that he had been chosen as part of the panel of voters for those who would eventually be nominated in the Best International Act – Africa category.
It would be recalled that Shatta Wale made a video earlier this year in which he practically insulted Okraku Mantey in a very vile and merciless manner. Mark refused to comment on it or take any action that would make him any more popular than he was.
It is in view of this that some of the fans and other observers of the industry thought ahead of the release of nominees’ name that Shatta would miss out. However, as I have indcated, Mark had nothing to do with the nominations, he will only vote on those who have been nominated.
The next target for those who felt that Shatta Wale was hard done by for not getting a nomination is the VGMA board and Charterhouse together. To these people, this is the mafia that is bent on ensuring that Shatta Wale won’t get a BET nomination.
I, honestly, don’t know about Charterhouse and I cannot hold brief for them, but I can say on authority as a member of the VGMA board that we have absolutely nothing to do with BET. I’d rather be a part of a group of people whose activities will bring success to humanity than one that would have as sabotaging others its main objective.
So I am saying it for the records (of course this will definitely fly over the head of many) that if there is any cartel that is bent on ensuring that Shatta Wale never gets a BET nomination, it is definitely not the VGMA board, that is, if such a cartel even exists. We have better things to do with our time, I can assure you.
The third issue that has come up very strongly and championed by a die-hard Shatta Wale fan, Willi Roi, is the issue of how that particular award at the BET is inferior and a sham. Come on, do you rubbish something only because the man you support and root for didn’t get a shout?
This debate about whether the BET respects African artistes in the manner that it presents the award to them has been done and dusted since the days Sarkodie picked it. The primary audience of BET Awards is American. If you feel the platform is inferior all you say is “do not nominate me.” Not when you are expectant, but wait until after the fact, when your artiste misses out, before you realise how shambolic the award is.
Thankfully many, including KKD, have told Willi Roi in the face that his stance is rather what is the sham and not the awards that his many Facebook posts, since the nominations came out, seem to suggest. It smacks of jealousy and pettiness to do this after the fact.
This is an award that has gone to some of the contemporary luminaries of music in Africa since 2011: 2Face Idibia & D’banj (2011), Sarkodie and Wizkid (2012), Ice Prince (2013), Davido (2014), Stonebwoy (2015) and Black Coffee (2016).
Shatta Wale himself got into the fray when he tweeted about why he should bother about BET when he could not find his BECE results. This happened when other artistes, like Sarkodie, who could have been nominated came out to congratulate Stonebwoy on his nomination.
Shatta Wale is the biggest artiste in Ghana at the moment and he has shown himself to be a big beat maker. His songs are currently burning the airwaves and so it is proper that his fans would expect him to be nominated. However, awards producers have criteria for selecting nominees and we should find out how we can get on to their list, if we want to.
Let me touch on the issue of Mr. Eazi and why I think some people are just being argumentative for its sake. Some have said Ghana has not laid claim to him by not nominating him for VGMA and now he has been nominated for Nigeria in the BET.
That’s hogwash! He could be nominated for the VGMA and that would not change his nationality. That aside, can you imagine the mindless and bogus attacks that would be aimed at Charterhouse and the VGMA board should Mr. Eazi be nominated and he goes on to win multiple awards at the VGMA? Well, it doesn’t matter how it goes, there will be a casualty, anyway.
It is important to commend Stonebwoy on his nomination and to wish him well in the coming days. He surprised many, including me, when he won in 2015 and hope he would do same again. Let us rally behind him to win it for us all. Jah bless!