Good work deserves recognition, through both awards and rewards. Surprisingly, in Malawi music awards do not last years.
For many years, Malawian artists basked in the glory of mother of all awards, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation’s (MBC) Entertainers of the Year Awards. Since its introduction in the 1970s Entertainers of the Year Awards stood the test of time until in 2008 when it was put on ice.
Since then, other awards came on the scene and went under in a matter of years. Industry pundits say awards survive on the goodwill of the corporate world.
So, don’t Malawi’s corporate bodies—who in most cases sponsor such events to promote their products and services—see the potential in local music industry to help grow their sales.
Industry insiders say that if an award ceremony is marred by negative press and controversy —either before or after the event —most corporate bodies shy away from putting their money into such awards.
Local artists, however, cry for the return of these awards. They say awards are important as they are a mark of excellence and act like rewards that can help artists build solid foundation by investing in their talent.
Hip hop star Tay Grin says music awards should be viewed as motivation factor and a mark of a relevance in the music industry.
“To be recognised or win an award gives you a hundred reasons to work hard because they act as motivation.
“On the other hand, awards attach relevance to what you are doing and make one’s efforts appreciated in one way or the other,” says Tay Grin, who has won a Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts (Beffta) award for Best International African Act, the 2016 WatsUp TV Africa Music Video Awards and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation’s (MBC) Entertainers of the Year Awards, among many awards both on the local and international scene.
Gospel musician Lloyd Phiri also attests to the significance of awards such as Entertainers of the Year Award.
Phiri says will live to remember 2002 as a year he was given a huge career boost when one of his songs Afuna Ulape, taken from his 2001 debut album Usagwedezeke, was voted the best song of the year in MBC’s Entertainers of the Year Awards. Since winning the award, Phiri became a household name and one of the hottest artist on the country’s gospel scene.
“I still cherish those memories because it was an honour to be recognised in the MBC Entertainers of the Year Awards, rewards aside,” says Phiri.
Being first of its kind and popular, Phiri said Entertainers of the Year Awards were classic because they helped to raise the status of many artists.
“Entertainers of the Year Awards won people’s confidence because they were in its own class,” he said.
Since Entertainers of the Year Awards were put on ice in 2008, MBC has swapped the awards with other award shows including Entertainers of the Year ‘The Return’ in 2015. But none of the shows have lived up to the billing of the original award show.
Then most recently, MBC introduced the Innovations Awards that seek to inspire innovations and promote virtues of national character namely; patriotism, integrity and hard work. Pundits say the show is yet to prove doubters wrong.
Some individuals have tried to introduce numerous awards to reward excellence. Most of the awards have not lasted five years. For example, the Malawi Music Awards only took place in 2010 while Musicians Union of Malawi (Muma) Awards which were organized by MUM alongside MediaCorp Limited and Urban Music Party (UMP) Awards by Nde’feyo Entertainment were only held in 2014.
Today, the future of music awards in the country looks hazy.
The most promising and surviving award show, Urban Music Party Awards (UMP) is keeping artists hearts pounding; will its last, will it survive the test of time?
According to Tay Grin most of these awards are unattainable and face natural death due to lack of resources and poor organisation.
“Organisers must clean up their act,” he suggests.
While MUM president Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango defended his Muma Awards recently by saying the awards will not die.
He says Muma Awards have failed to take place for the past two years due to minor challenges.
Mhango told our sister paper The Nation MUM wants to rectify the flaws registered in the 2014 season which affected preparation for the 2015 awards.
On their part, Nde’feyo, the UMP Awards organisers say they want to up their game so that the awards are bigger and better in years to come.
“We are focused on urban industry that’s why we are still standing today and we are looking forward to up our game this year because we have a bigger room for improvement,” said Nde’feyo manager Ken Zizwa Limamwe.
And there is hope. Fresh awards are on the cards. Some music-lovers have ganged up to bring what are called Nyasa Music Awards mid this year.
The awards are being run by four members: Mathambo Lowole, Kennedy Chitedze, Chifundo Maganga and James Makunje.
The inaugural Nyasa Music Awards are slated for May 5 at Comesa Hall in Blantyre and the event will focus on all genres of music.
However, the question remains: Will these new awards last a year?