Last week, Black Entertainment Television commonly known as BET, announced the nominees for this year’s BET Awards.
As imagined, Africans were looking out for Best International act Africa category that has been around since2011. It should be noted that when the category was first introduced in 2010 though then, it was a
But it was in 2011, that independent categories were created for the two blocks, the debutant nominees for Africa were more of mentions of famous acts whether they had trending music at the time or not. The cast included Fally Ipupa from DRC, Nigerians D’Banj and 2Face, South Africa’s Teargas, Ghana’s D-Black and Benin’s legend Angelique Kidjo. D’Banj and 2Face were announced winners.
The controversy at that time was about the award being a tie between two Nigerians. Later on controversy would move to giving out awards backstage, then in an empty auditorium before cleaners and caterers and today, it’s no longer about Africa as a whole but East Africans that feel like baits for the Viacom network.
Since 2012, when Camp Mulla from Kenya became the first East Africans to be nominated for the Best International Act Africa, an artiste from the region has been nominated for the years that followed, alongside two or more Nigerians, one or two Ghanaians or South Africans.
Complaint is that much as the numbers of Nigerians, Ghanaians or South Africans has been changing, two things at the awards have remained constant, one East African nominee and a west African winner; for instance in 2012 it was Kenya’s Camp Mulla followed by Radio & Weasel, then Tanzania’s Diamond Platinumz and Sauti Sol from Kenya and in the same way, Nigerians have won five of the awards, with the other two going to Ghanaians.
This year, Diamond holds the East African community flag again alongside two Nigerians, three South Africans, a Ghanaian and Serge Beynaud from Cote d’Ivoire.
Unlike the past where the news was welcomed with pomp, East Africans are actually not that amused this time round, they hate the fact that once again, the headlines have to read that ‘so and so, is the only East African at the BET Awards’.
“I just wonder, which criteria BET uses, how comes that whenever they asses African artistes for nominations, they land on one East African, three Nigerians and two Ghanaians?” one Wangech wondered on Facebook.
He argued that maybe the channel is using East Africa as a market gimmick even when they are only serving a West African agenda and thus, the single nomination that has been fairly distributed between Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania over the years is a token to keep us at bay.
“It’s like we are not their target audience but they somehow have to keep us around,” he added.
But Wangech is not all wrong considering a fact that East Africans have had a relatively good year, it’s rather shocking that they can only a manage a single nomination even in 2016, for instance Eddy Kenzo and Niniola are running airwaves with a remix of Mbilo Mbilo just like Sauti Sol, Victoria Kimani, Vanessa Mdee and Diamond Platinumz are enjoying continental airplay with different projects.
In fact, Sauti Sol since their nomination last year has had a tremendous time that included the release of Live and Die in Africa album, various nominations, collaborations and festival performances across the continent.
Some believe they were more deserved nominees than Yemi Alade and Mzvee, who’s already receiving a backlash for the nomination in Ghana.
It’s not known whether this time the African award will be handed out before empty seats as the show organizers received much more than they bargained for last year, notably though, the Best New International Act Viewers’ Choice Award category won by Eddy Kenzo is missing from the list of nominations.