Some of the biggest news in Uganda’s entertainment industry yesterday was the coming alive of the fantasy of Uganda hosting the 2019 edition of the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA).
The MAMA awards were established in 2008 by MTV Networks Africa to celebrate the most popular contemporary music in Africa. They lasted six editions with South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya hosting the awards thrice, twice, and once respectively.
In 2017 the popular awards weren’t held and Alex Okosi, Executive Vice President of Viacom International Media Network Africa, said that the company was working to reinvent them to create a deeper music experience for the 2018 edition. In 2018, they were a no show as well.
One of the most exciting editions of the MAMA awards (in a Ugandan perspective) happened in 2015 at a ceremony that was held at the Durban International Convention Centre, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on July 18th in commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
In that year, several Ugandan artistes were proud to share the limelight with some making it on the nominations list as others were invited to make celebrity appearances.
Jose Chameleone was pitted against the likes of Samini, Asa, Black Coffee, 2Face Idibia, Anselmo Ralph, Fally Ipupa, HHP, and D’Banj – who won the award – in the MAMA Evolution Award category.
Bebe Cool’s ‘Love You Everyday’ was nominated in the Video of the Year category something which raised arguments on who should keep the award, between the singer and the videographer, if it’s won.
The following year, 2016, the awards were a shadow of their former self with less publicity towards the main event. The nominations and eventual winners as well were not convincing enough for several music fans and critics.
That was the last year they were held and despite a negative reception generally, Uganda went ahead to prove that its entertainment industry was improving as Eddy Kenzo, Sheebah Karungi and Bebe Cool achieved nominations.
The MAMA awards are such a big stage for any Ugandan artiste and that was witnessed in the efforts that the nominated artistes invested to ensure that their fans voted for them in the last two editions of the awards.
The Ugandan cabinet approved the bid to have the 2019 MAMA awards hosted in Uganda – the very first time that the country will host awards of such a magnitude if the bid is accepted.
The expectations are that the awards act as a platform to showcase what Uganda, as a nation, possesses in terms of Arts and Film. It could be the perfect timing because Ugandans have waited too long for this opportunity.