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The 5 African Acts who took home awards at the 2017 BET Awards

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No longer is African music customized to African ears. African songs have matured getting well distilled to be alcoholically consumed by a global audience. Major hits from the continent have turned worldwide sound-storms.

Most notorious among the pack of African artists who have perfumed the global audience with the aroma of African music is the Nigerian mega-act Wizkid (real name Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun). And to firmly reinstate his chieftaincy in Africa music, he scooped home the recently held Best International Act: Africa at the 2017 BET Awards.

The announcement comes from the special ceremony which convened on in the United States, Los Angeles.

“Congrats to #BETAwards17 ‘Best International Act: Africa’ winner @wizkidayo ”.

The BET event was hosted by regular face Eva Marcille (this time marking her second appearance as a BET host). She was accompanied in her hosting by co-host South African TV actress and model Nomzamo Mbatha. Nomzamo Mbatha as we know is a popular face of South Africa TV.  Nomzamo Mbatha crept into international fame for her performance in the romantic comedy film, Tell Me Sweet Something. For that she bagged an Africa Movie Academy Award in the category of Best Actress at the 12th Africa Movie Academy Awards

Actress Nomzamo Mbatha arrives at the 2017 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)

This latest achievement from Wizkid sees the serial winner kidnap the award for the second time. The first time he had won it was some five years  ago in 2012.

The highly coveted award pits Wizkid against his eminent musical colleagues with fierce competition coming from the Nigerian duo Tekno, Davido, Ghanian Mr Eazi as well as the South African trio of AKA, Nasty C and Babes Wodumo.

For Tekno and Mr Eazi, this happened to being their debut nomination. This is a testimony to the great works they did last year with ear-rattling singles.

Well for Wizkid, it is all about consolidating his place in the international sphere with major collaborations like One Dance and Come Closer with Drake cycling his name around earth. The One Dance he wrote with Drake was eminently a world banger nicking seven nominations and bagging three.

20 year South African Nasty C, frenetically excited with his nomination, was beaming with praise for Wizkid:

“Wizkid congratulations, it’s for Africa, you took it home man, I’m proud of you, everyone that’s coming up you just got to keep your head up, thick skin, just keep working, keep on your toes, keep it up.”

At the moment, he has his hand filled with his sophomore album, “Sounds from the Other Side” which he dropped in July spiced deliciously with major collaborations like “African Bad Girl” where he colluded criminally with American superstar, Chris Brown, “Daddy Yo” as well  “Sweet Love”.

GLOBAL GOOD: POWER AWARD

Yvonne Chaka Chaka (South Africa)

Taking a moment off Wizkid and his exploits, Yvonne Chaka Chaka also earned a lovely night winning the Global Good Power award as a meritorious reward for her immortal strides in African humanitarianism.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka at the BET Awards

Chaka has carved her philanthropic mark on history. She deploys her fame in combating health concerns in Africa. Her notable Princess of Africa Foundation commendably makes giant efforts in tackling HIV, malaria, tuberculosis in vulnerable African communities challenged with paucity of infrastructure.

VIEWER’S CHOICE “BEST INTERNATIONAL ACT”

Rayvanny (Tanzania)

Rayvanny from Tanzania also went home with the Viewer’s Choice Best International Act. Previous winners in this categories spreads across the enigmatic Falz, Kenzo and others. Rayvanny is popularly a musical descendant of super Tanzanian singer Diamond Platnumz.

Rayvanny at the BET Awards

And in befitting gratitude he pays plaudits to Diamond Platnumz. Yo guys, we did it,” he proudly crested on social media. “Thanks everybody who voted for me. My brother Diamond Platnumz, I know you are waiting for this. This is not mine bro, this is yours because you sacrificed yourself for me. Yo my brother. This one is for you. Thanks a lot BET Awards, this means a lot to me.”

GLOBAL GOOD: STAR AWARD

Ilwad Elman (Somalia/Canada)

Another winner that night was Canadian Somalian Ilwad Elman who deservedly takes home the Global Good Star Award.

Ilwad Elman at the BET Awards

Ilwad Elman has made her mark in getting Somalia back on track after the destabilizing war which ravaged Somalia. A war which also took her father peace activist and entrepreneur Ahmed Ilwad. She energetically works with the UNICEF in championing the protection of children and women from the violence Somalia is experiencing.

BEST INTERNATIONAL: EUROPE

Stormzy (UK)

As said, it was not entirely Wizkid’s day, UK based Ghanaian Stormzy still had a very memorable day to remember. Stormzy bagged the ‘Best International Act: UK.

This was one fiery category contested by the cream of black artistes featuring the intimidating likes of Craig David, Emeli Sande, Skepta, and Giggs. This would be the second time Stormzy is repeating this feat. Two years back in 2015, Stormzy also won the BET award for ‘Best International Act: UK’. This was a strong reminder of how well his music has been globally absorbed and a rewarding testament to the hardwork he has been exerting behind the scenes.

International BET Award Winners 2017:

BEST INTERNATIONAL: AFRICA

Wizkid (Nigeria)

BEST INTERNATIONAL: EUROPE

Stormzy (Ghana/UK)

VIEWER’S CHOICE “BEST INTERNATIONAL ACT”

Rayvanny (Tanzania)

GLOBAL GOOD: STAR AWARD

Ilwad Elman (Somalia/Canada)

GLOBAL GOOD: POWER AWARD

Yvonne Chaka Chaka (South Africa)

 

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TV and Movies

Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman To Play Yasuke, The First Black Samurai

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The popular opinion is that only Asians become samurai. Apparently, there were a few non-Asian samurais in history. However, the person that started it all was Yasuke, the first black samurai. The story of Yasuke has been a secret for a long time. However, that is about to change. Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman, will play the role of Yasuke. According to a report on Deadline, Boseman said,

“The legend of Yasuke is one of history’s best-kept secrets. That’s not just an action movie… That’s a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it.”

Yasuke’s biography

Perhaps, one of the best insights into the personality of Yasuke is through the book by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard. The book is titled “African Samurai: The True Story, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan”. According to the book, Yasuke was taken from his village. Subsequently, he was sent to India to work for the Portuguese. However, he came to Japan in 1579 working as the bodyguard of Alessandro Valignano, a powerful Portuguese Jesuit missionary.

Furthermore, to get favor from warlord Oda Nobunaga, Valignano offered Yasuke as “a weapon bearer and novelty” to Nobunaga. Impressed by Yasuke’s loyalty, Nobunaga gave him a prestigious samurai status. Consequently, as a samurai, he was revered by everyone around him. According to the biographers, “People in the streets did not only gape at him. They bowed, heads to the earth, as they addressed him.” However, there is a slightly different version of the biography according to Deadline.

“Yasuke was a native of Portuguese Mozambique who was brought to Japan as a slave to Jesuit missionaries. [Consequently] the first black man to set foot on Japanese soil, Yasuke’s arrival aroused the interest of Nobunaga, a ruthless warlord seeking to unite the fractured country under his banner. [However] a complex relationship developed between the two men as Yasuke earned Nobunaga’s friendship, respect—and ultimately, the honour, swords, and title of samurai.”

Movie development

Yasuke is a 16th-century Japanese samurai. However, the talk about the STX film dates back to 2017. Stephen L’Heureux and Mike De Luca were co-producing a movie on Yasuke’s story at that time. According to Deadline, Doug Miro (‘Narcos’ co-creator) was in charge of the script writing.

However, this is not the first time Boseman will be starring in biographical movies. He featured in ‘Get On Up’ (as James Brown), ‘42’ (as Jackie Robinson), and ‘Marshall’ (as Thurgood Marshall). However, fingers are already pointing at Boseman’s next project, ’21 Bridges’. He will be playing a detective hunting down a pair of cop killers. The Black Panther star is already becoming a fan’s favourite.

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TV and Movies

Mama K’s Team 4 Becomes Netflix’s First African Animation Series

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Mama K Team 4

Netflix, the largest streaming network, is working hard to expand its African content. The latest of this drive was announcing ‘Mama K’s Team 4’ as its first original African animated series. Consequently, in a matter of time, the audience around the world will be able to stream the all-girl team of African spies.

Mama K’s Team 4 is an initiative born from Triggerfish Animation Studios’ 2015 Story Lab. The initiative called for the submission of uniquely African animation stories. There were lots of entries to that effect. However, it was Malenga Mulendema and seven others that were winners. Speaking to Quartz Africa, Mulendema said,

“Cartoons were an exciting part of my childhood in Zambia. But, regardless of whether it was the scheduled one hour of cartoon on the local broadcaster or multiple hours, later, on international channels, representational characters were very few and far between.”

Increase in demand for equal representation

On one half, women are calling for equal representation in superhero movies. On the other hand, black superheroes also remain underrepresented. Mulendema recalled how she and her friends would create their own cartoons as kids to fill the gap. Consequently, this became the motivation for her all-women spy team, Mama K’s Team 4.

“Now, like never before, it is so important to have strong female lead characters who are emotionally connected to their world and who can choose to change their world. So to me, selecting an all-female writing team was a natural fit. Because who better to create and connect to those characters than females themselves. In creating a superhero show set in Lusaka, I hope to introduce the world to four strong African girls who save the day in their own fun and crazy way. Most importantly, I want to illustrate that anyone from anywhere can be a superhero.”

A peek into Mama K’s Team 4

The series is a joint production of CAKE (a London-based kids and family entertainment specialist) and Triggerfish Animation (award-winning South Africa-based studio). Mama K’s Team 4 tells the story of fourteen girls living their normal life in neo-futuristic Lusaka, Zambia. A retired secret agent called Mama K with a commitment to save the world recruits them and turns them into spies. Tom van Waveren, CAKE’s CEO and Creative Director said,

“We are [happy] to be partnering with Triggerfish and Netflix on Mama K’s Team 4. A uniquely empowering, but most of all fun project, which brings a fresh perspective to a classic cartoon genre.”

Mama K’s Team 4 on hero duty

Malcolm Wope, a Cape-Town based Cameroonian artist is behind the design of the characters and their world. Perhaps, their outfits draw inspiration from the hip hop and R&B girl group of the ‘90s. Further explaining the impact of the animated series was the vice president of original animation at Netflix, Melissa Cobb. Cobb said,

“In addition to giving African writers a global platform on which to be heard, we are excited to present this powerful and entertaining new animated series that brings Malenga’s incredible and unique vision to life on Netflix. Mama K’s Team 4 has the potential to give a whole new generation of African children the opportunity to see themselves on-screen in the powerful, aspirational characters they look up to.”

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Music

Tiwa Savage Joins Growing Number Of African Artist Signed To Universal Music Group

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There is a popular saying that the end of one journey is the beginning of another. That appears to be the story of the Nigerian music sensation, Tiwa Savage. Earlier this month, she announced she will not be renewing her 7 years contract with Mavin Records. Don Jazzy, the Mavin CEO and record producer confirmed her exit. Consequently, Don Jazzy took to his Instagram page to pen a sensational farewell.

https://www.instagram.com/donjazzy/?utm_source=ig_embed

“Our darling Tiwatope. We at Mavin would like to say a very big thank you for being such an inspiration to all of us, a friend, a sister. It’s been an epic journey with you and we are very proud of what we have achieved together. As you start this new chapter in your life we want you to know that we are solidly behind you and can’t wait for the world to see what we have always believed you can be. Your jersey as the first lady of Mavin will forever be yours as we do not intend to fill that position with anyone else. We love you from the bottom of our hearts and pray God’s blessings to continue to follow you.”

A new beginning for Tiwa Savage?

Tiwa Savage is undoubtedly one of the finest female act in Africa. At the MTV European Music Awards (EMA) in 2018, she became the first African female act to win the Best African Act. In the same year, she also became the first African female musician to sell out London’s Indig02. Few days after her departure from Mavin Records, Tiwa Savage signed a recording deal with Universal Music Group (UMG). Universal Music Group is one of the leading music groups in the world. The exclusive recording agreement gives the Nigerian songstress access to UMG’s distribution tools and infrastructure. Subsequently, her music will reach a wider audience through UMG’s operations in 60 countries around the world.

https://www.instagram.com/tiwasavage/?utm_source=ig_embed

In 2018, UMG acquired one of the largest record labels in East Africa, AI Records. Consequently, they opened an office in Nigeria and Ivory Coast. UMG also has a multi-year licensing agreement with Boomplay, a platform with 5.6 million active users. The Executive Vice President, Market Development, Universal Music Group, Adam Granite said,

“We are looking forward to partnering with Tiwa and her team to help her music reach new audiences around the world. As one of Africa’s most successful, influential and dynamic singer-songwriters, Tiwa has truly global ambitions and UMG is committed to helping her in achieving them.”

Some of the facilitators present at the signing of the new recording agreement between Tiwa Savage and UMG include Efe Ogbeni, Joel Katz, Sir Lucian Grainge (Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group Worldwide), Vanessa Amadi (Stealth Management), Adam Granite (Executive Vice President, Market Development at Universal Worldwide), and Sipho Dlamini (Managing Director of Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa).

Tiwa Savage signs with UMG in the presence of facilitators

What next?

UMG is an American music company that boasts of artists like Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, and Rihanna. In Africa, the list of musicians signed to UMG includes TXT, Nasty C, and Nadia Nakai. While expressing her excitement, Tiwa Savage revealed her next plan.

“My biggest goal is to make Africa proud. I’m so excited for this moment, and I’m thankful to (UMG CEO|) Sir Lucian Grainge and my new UMG family for their belief in my dreams. I’m looking forward to this next chapter in my career, and I’m more ready than I have ever been.”

Before bringing her act to the center stage, Tiwa Savage has performed as a backup singer for artists like the late George Michael and Mary J. Blige. There is a growing interest of American record labels in Africa. However, Tiwa Savage is the latest to enjoy the accolade.

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