How not to run an awards show

Two contrasting views of last night’s first MTV Africa Music Awards, or the Mamas as we’re apparently supposed to call them. According to the BBC “Nigerian duo P-Square… thrilled the crowd with their stage act…” Around 5,000 people were crammed into Abuja’s “stylishly shaped Abuja Velodrome”.

When I was in Abuja earlier this year I saw the velodrome from the outside and, yes, it is indeed stylishly shaped. Those stylish shapes appear to do little for the acoustics though. Naijablog, who braved a “life-threatening crush” and a brush with an overly aggressive security guard just to get in, didn’t get to hear much.

“The concrete curves of the place create the most unsuitable echoey acoustics. It was impossible to hear what the presenters/award givers/winners were saying. Ditto the acceptance speeches.”

So much for P-Square, or anyone, “thrilling the crowd”.

At least most of the acts performing were actually African. MTV has put on a series of concerts around the continent promoting the awards. The headline act for the one in Nairobi was The Game, an American gangsta rapper who sings about women and money and whose videos feature dancing women in bikinis while he drinks champagne and throws money about. (I’m guessing here. I’ve never seen his videos but I’m willing to bet this is right.)

Thankfully, Nairobi’s hip-hop crowd seems to be a little more discerning. Friends who went to the gig said The Game got a fairly lukewarm reception. The warm-up act, Kenya’s very own Jua Cali, was the one who took the roof off.

MTV may have the bigger brand name but they’ve got a long way to go before they can match Channel O. MTV should also take a look at Channel O’s Spirit of Africa for some ideas on how to run a proper awards show.

(By the way, in its coverage of the event why did the Associated Press feel the need the point out that Africa is “the world’s poorest continent“? What has that got to do with the music awards?)


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