Entertainment & SocietyWhy African Version of Grammy Award is Necessary – Hannatu Musawa

Why African Version of Grammy Award is Necessary – Hannatu Musawa


March 10, (THEWILL)- The Minister of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, is on a collision course with industry stakeholders over her plan to create an African version of the American Grammy Awards.

The minister’s plan to collaborate with Grammy organisers for an African version is considered to be misguided and capable of undermining the existing pan-African awards.

Musawa, according to stakeholders, is on the verge of finalising a deal with the Grammy organisers to use its platform for the proposed African Grammy Awards, with Nigeria slated to host the inaugural edition.

She claims that the African version of the Grammy Award when it becomes a reality, will strengthen other award bodies in Africa and also reposition them for a global outlook. But stakeholders in the music industry are concerned that the proposed partnership that aims to create an award event tailored to African music could jeopardise the hard-earned progress and unique cultural identity of African music. They are also concerned that the proposed African Grammy Awards could overshadow existing continental music awards and platforms.

They have therefore urged President Bola Tinubu to halt the proposed partnership between the Nigerian and the American Grammy Awards, which aims to establish an African version of the Grammy Awards.

Industry stakeholders, such as the CEO of Trending Musik, Segun Ogunjimi, are kicking against this move, citing the potential risks it poses to the African music industry’s autonomy and growth trajectory.

Ogunjimi highlighted what he called the remarkable strides made by the players in the Nigeria’s music industry, which has achieved global recognition and acceptance without significant government support and foreign back-up.

He expressed apprehension that the proposed partnership with the Grammy Awards could undermine the industry’s progress of over two decades.

Ogunjimi stressed the need to maintain and promote African music on its own terms, rather than adopting foreign models that may not align with the continent’s cultural heritage and artistic direction.

He said, “This is a clear case of misplaced priority. It’s shocking how the minister could endorse the adoption of an award by an entity that doesn’t understand our culture and heritage. It reeks of neo-colonialism and many of us in the industry see it as a perpetuation of a culture of waste that could harm our economy.

“Why bring in an American entity when we have well-established music award institutions that have tirelessly celebrated and honoured our music icons in an authentic African manner, gaining global acceptance in the process? Instead of supporting homegrown initiatives like the Headies, All African Music Awards, AFRIMA, Soundcity MVP Awards, and Trace Awards, among others, the minister has opted to prioritize foreign involvement. This is unacceptable and should be condemned by all those who love this country and the creative industry.

“There is a movement within the music industry to reject this vexatious initiative by Musawa and we are calling on President Tinubu to prevail on the minister to bury this idea forthwith.”

Benjamin Iguebor, a veteran music producer and industry consultant, echoed similar sentiments. He emphasised the importance of preserving Africa’s rich musical heritage and cautioned against prioritising international recognition over the continent’s diverse musical traditions.

Iguebor emphasised the significant role that African music awards institutions, such as the All African Music Awards (AFRIMA), Headies, Ghana Music Awards (GMA),Soundcity MVP Awards, Trace Awards and SAMA, South African Music Awards amongst others, play in promoting the continent’s music industry on a global level.

He argued that supporting these locally grown initiatives is crucial in fostering the growth and sustainability of African music, rather than importing foreign elements that will not align with the continent’s unique cultural identity and context.

But Musawa stated that the African Grammy will not in any way jeopardize the progress and unique cultural identity of African music, adding that the organizers of home award shows would not be alienated.

She confirmed that the Federal Government was already in talks with the organisers of Grammy Awards, adding that such conversation was necessary because Nigeria cannot be left behind in view of the giant steps we have made globally in music.

Musawa noted that other countries that lack the musical strength of Nigeria are willing to participate in the Grammy, adding that it will be disappointing for Nigeria not to be part of the conversation with the Grammy.

The minister said, “We’re in talks with the Grammy, obviously, to see how we can work together. The Grammy Africa is coming to Africa anyway. Three African countries, namely Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa, were already in talks with the organisers of the global Grammy Award to explore the possibility of having its version in Africa.

“And it will be a shame for Nigeria not to be among the African countries making that move because none of those countries is making the kind of waves that Nigeria is making. Afro beats is here in Nigeria, even amapiano has been adopted by Nigeria. Nigeria is at the forefront of music, not only in Africa but in the global music scene.

“So, if a brand like the Grammy is coming to Africa and signing with African countries that do not have the musical strength of Nigeria, I think it will really be disappointing for Nigeria not to have that conversation with the Grammy to see how we can be part of it. The conversation with the Grammy is necessary because Nigeria cannot be left behind. But it does not mean that we are going to alienate our own home bred awards. At the same time, we will continue our conversation with the stakeholders to see how we can come up with an award system that will be able to get the kind of structure that will be able to go global.”

Musawa said that her ministry was ready to work with stakeholders of the industry to see how the government can support them to come up with our own Nigerian awards that will be global.

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