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For the first time, the MTV Africa Music Awards (Mamas) will be held in South Africa.
Scheduled to take place at Durban’s International Convention Centre on June 7, the Mamas are one of the biggest music events on the continent.
“The Mamas are a great platform for African musicians as they are shown on all our MTV channels around the world,” said Alex Okosi, the senior vice- president and managing director of Viacom International Media Networks, Africa.
Okosi explained that this exposure would give the world insight into South African and African music and in some cases encourage artists to collaborate.
The Mamas have previously been held in Nigeria and Kenya but took a break because of the harsh economic conditions. Now that the awards are back, Okosi explained the criteria behind the decision to choose South Africa to host the event.
“It is obviously about looking for a place that has a strong music culture,” he said.
“South Africa’s music talent is unmatched and Durban as a location is great. The Mamas should showcase great locations and Durban can stage any global event with no problem at all. Great talent and a great location - that is what is important to us,” he said.
For many artists like Mi Casa and Nigeria’s Flavour who were also in attendance, the previous Mamas took place before they were popular, so the question these musos posed is what the ultimate Mamas experience would be like?
“It is one of those shows we make sure is the best from the continent. We want to make sure we don’t patronise Africa to say ‘we have an MTV show in Africa’.
“Every year we have had it we have had incredible African talent and we sprinkle it with some international talent since we are an international brand. We have done this before where we had incredible collaborations where Kelly Rowland would collaborate with D’Banj,” explained Okosi.
Rapper Da Les, who was also present at the launch, reflected on his past performances with international acts at the Mamas.
“I did a performance with Rick Ross and T-Pain once at the Mamas and this is one thing I would have probably not been able to do by myself. The experience was great and I felt that it did a lot of positive things for my career in showcasing what I can do beyond our borders,” he said.
Mi Casa, who have now become a household name since the 2010 showcase, expressed excitement at the Mamas finally coming to South Africa.
“Our strategy has always been to conquer the African continent through our music. We have just come off a 16-country African tour just to see how much impact we can make and that’s been really amazing. It’s the first time we can now be part of this and we are really excited to be part of it. Hopefully we will pick up an award,” said Mi Casa’s singer, J Something.
Durban’s king of house music, DJ Tira, said he was happy the huge event was coming to his home town and planned to take advantage of it.
“They don’t like it when they say, ‘Fact: Durban rocks’, so thank you to MTV for bringing these awards, I am sure they are going to be the best yet. I am happy that at least Big Nuz has scooped a Mama before so them coming here will inspire a lot of up-and-coming young people.
“We hope that the international acts coming through make time to make some music with local artists. It would be nice to have foreign artists on the Durban beats,” he said.
• The MTV Africa Music Awards will premiere on MTV Base (DStv channel 322), MTV (DStv channel 130) and other partner channels around the continent in June.