The African Union Commission and the International committee of All Africa Music Awards AFRIMA recently organized a Cameroon Stakeholders’ conference in Douala. The team of three made up of Ernest Ewane, AFRIMA Regional Director, Central Africa; Adenrele Niyi, Associate Producer, AFRIMA and Sola Dada, Media head of AFRIMA met with music and culture industry stakeholders at a conference on Friday, June 28th 2019 at the Las Vegas VIP, Sable, Bonamoussadi, Douala, Cameroon.
The initial intention of the conference from AFRIMA was to reveal details of the 6th AFRIMA entry submission process and other programmes for the annual continental awards to effectively engage music talents and content creators from Cameroon who are key stakeholders and beneficiaries of the awarding process.
Among key attendees where artists like Wax Dey, Mr. Leo, Ewube, Mic Monster, Sango Edi, Wams, Divine Verjika, Awu ; and media persons like Che Che Elvis of Critiqsite, Miss Gina, Fon Felix of Kamerlink, Isabella of Tonda Mag Emmanuel Asafor of Atalaku, journalists from traditional media, event organizer and photographer, Penjo Baba and many other stakeholders in Cameroon’s culture.
The AFRIMA team presented the AFRIMA project rundown including the activities during the AFRIMA weekend, the nomination process, voting and a video projection of their journey through the past years and past winners. They explained that AFRIMA is backed by the African Union which handles most of the financial aspects and sponsors the event while also providing diplomatic assistance to their team in the various countries as concerns Visas and relations with the governments and culture ministries of the various AFRIMA countries.
They answered the questions around the value of the AFRIMA trophy and key innovation of this year’s event by saying that the trophy is not accompanied by an actual cash prize but is very valuable and can be used by the winner to get gigs and tour around many nations. They also promised that they keep working every year trying to get better with new and innovative ideas.
Questions also popped up around what percentage of votes are considered in selecting the winners and actual reason for introducing ‘votes buying’ in some countries last year. They defended by saying that public votes count less than 50% in most categories. There is carefully selected team called the AFRIMA academy of Voters comprising of 527 members spread across the five regions of Africa who scrutinize and apply music knowledge where needed in the key categories to reduce the influence that nominees with more fans have over those with less fans and more talent. This goes in categories like ‘Best producer’, ‘Best Songwriter’, ‘Video of the year’ and many other categories. Also, the ‘buying of votes’ strategy was introduced to also reduce the influence that artists with more fans have over those with less fans. The platform was built in such a way that just a limited number of votes can be bought.
Worth noting that the response to the question in the above paragraph wasn’t clear enough and we couldn’t get more clarifications. There was really no limit to buying of votes in last year’s edition and it attracted a lot of criticisms from the Cameroon audience. We however sensed that the strategy of votes buying was a one-time strategy set out to test the audience. It will be interesting to see if it is still used this year and the explanation that will come from it.
The interesting part of the day came when Mr. Leo took the mic and shared his experiences with AFRIMA over the years. This according to our observations left the AFRIMA team embarrassed. Mr. Leo explained that he was disgraced when he arrived Nigeria in 2017 for the AFRIMA Awards as he was bundled in a small bus with over 20 people. This didn’t end here as through the weekend, he wasn’t informed about rehearsals given he was poised to perform but he saw other artists from different countries posting videos of their rehearsals. He had to move to the rehearsals hall to meet the person in charge who was rude, didn’t give him a chance to express himself and his performance time cut from 8 minutes to 4 minutes for a live performance and he was forced to perform alongside Locko.
Mr. Leo‘s ordeal was received with much shock by the AFRIMA team present and audience as conclusions could be made around the fact that artists from certain countries are better treated during the awards than others and that some artists are considered smaller than others though all nominated for the awards. As explained above, the AFRIMA team were embarrassed by this experiences and quickly apologized and explained how tough it is organizing the event through the whole weekend and acknowledged their fault in it all but pointing out that errors can be made when dealing with humans.
Mr. Leo also gave them a remark about the poor communication for last year’s edition as he couldn’t leave Cameroon to attend the event because his flight and accommodation confirmation came only in the morning of the flight date though he and his team had been pushing for it months behind. Ewube also backed Mr. Leo‘s experience and said she has been treated same way during previous editions. The AFRIMA team tried to convince Mr. Leo and other artists to try to come for next editions as they promise to do better.
The truth is that AFRIMA will need more than one trip to Cameroon to convince the Cameroonian audience of their intentions and for the project to be accepted by most stakeholders. The build up to the conference was slow and the media was made aware just 48 hours before which probably explains the absence of most key members of the media could not be present.
I didn’t have enough time to ask all my questions or follow up on questions asked to get clarifications. The team however explained that they are available to answer any questions via any of the communication platforms and they went ahead to provided their emails and contacts for anybody that will have any particular question.
Meanwhile, AFRIMA Entry submission is still ON. Are you a Musician, Producer, Record Label Owner, Video Director, Dj or Choreographer? Recognition is just one song away – Submit your songs and Videos TODAY with the link below!⠀
See some photos of the conference below captured by Penjo Photography.
KESA as usual will bring you any updates on AFRIMA and her activities from now through till after the event to be held in November. We may elaborate more on the implications of above answers with critical analysis as usual. Stay tuned.