The 2018 edition of the Nyasa Music Awards (NMAs) held last Friday at Comesa Hall in Blantyre exposed some gaps, which need tightening to improve the initiative.
NMAs, a brain child of Chifundo Maganga, James Makunje Jnr and Mathambo Lowole, is designed to complement the growing music industry by creating a platform for promoting local artists.
“We want to make the awards an event that matches BET and MTV awards standards to expose and give local musicians an opportunity to collaborate with international artists,” said Maganga.
Despite offering a colourful event on Friday, this year’s event exposed some room for improvement, especially in terms of organisation. Followers of the competition started to raise eyebrows the day the NMAs announced the nominees list. The major concern was that some inactive artists found themselves on the list.
For instance, fun lovers questioned through their Facebook pages how artists such as Ethel Kamwendo-Banda, who last released an album over five years ago, earned a nomination in the best gospel artist category. Almost forgotten Nyasa Gurus, who have been inactive for over seven years, also got a nomination in the best group category.
In an interview, NMAs organisers admitted the grey areas.
“I believe we gave out a good show, but we can do better on nomination process. Next time we will bring in more people to ensure the process is exhaustive,” said Maganga.
He, however, defended the awards list, saying it portrays the views of those who voted.
“Most people are just good at talking, but they do not participate. We cannot make someone win based on opinions, but through voting and those who voted influenced the results.
“The voting process, in which people had to send an SMS to a code, was done by our aggregators Click Mobile. The link to the results was then sent to the auditors, who did the calculation and verification. We only got to know the results on the same night,” he said.
Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) president the Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango recently said the organisers did not engage his office.
“When they came in last year, we asked them to involve MUM in setting up their structures, but they never did. We could not act further than that as we did not want to appear like we are denying artists a chance to get recognition. Until they formally approach us, there is nothing we can do as a union,” he said.
Long time events manager Emmanuel Maliro said: “These are young guys coming through in the industry. Hiccups will always be there when something is in its infancy.
“However, there are some categories which needs tweaking. I do not know how they came up with the nominees, but I feel we had some artists who were not supposed to be on the list and some deserving were left out,” he said.
The awards will best be remembered for bringing South African socialite Somizi Somgaga Mhlongo who hosted the event. n