Most entertainment pundits and critics usually say that African artistes are ungrateful.
That we can’t ascertain but the right phrase would be, “hardly satisfied”. The African music industry is one of the most disorganized industries yet the artistes are never pleased when an impact is made.
BET started awarding African artistes about 4 years ago and so far, some few artistes like Sarkodie, 2Face Idibia, D’Banj, Wizkid, Stonebwoy, Ice Prince have emerged winners whilst acts like R2Bees, D-Black, Yemi Alade, The Soil, Mafikizolo etc have bagged nominations. This, added to their CV’s, gives them upper-hand over their fellow African acts.
But it seems the good gesture BET made to give African acts the spotlight backfires at them every year as they keep complaining about being rewarded backstage, something which has been debunked by organizers. The reality is that, BET cannot give all the awards on stage like they do in Ghana, where award shows are dragged to as late as 4am because they have to give all awards out and allow all sorts of performances.
Here are some good reasons why we believe BET gives less priority to African artistes and per common sense they make perfect sense.
Most African artistes are one-man-band men.
Very few African (especially Ghanaian) artistes are signed to proper record labels, most of them have their own labels which have no structure or anything of that sort to give right details and data to organizers when needed. For international acts in UK, it’s unexplainable since they have everything in place.
We must respect BET for being able to select the right African artistes for their award show every year, reason being that, as music doesn’t sell down here, most artistes release their songs for free on pirate sites. No data of number of songs, albums, singles sold. Very few artistes get a million and above views on YouTube. Data is irrelevant to Ghanaian artistes.
I still wonder why they want to be on the big stage being it as even in Africa, only a handful of artistes can wow audiences during performances from nation to nation. Most African artistes are local champions and only big in their own countries. Ice Prince, Wizkid, Yemi Alade etc. do not impress much whenever they perform here in Ghana and vice versa for Ghanaian artistes. Some Ghanaian artistes are only big in Accra and Tema only, South African rapper AKA and Burna Boy couldn’t make a 100 people show up at an event in Ghana. So why should they give you a platform to perform to an audience where 99.9% of them may not have a single clue who you are and what you are about??
Singing in the local dialect
This may not be tangible enough but most African musicians, especially the Ghanaian musicians, rap and sing in their local languages. Ghanaian artistes sing or rap in Twi, nobody understands Twi except for Ghanaians. In Nigeria, they try with the pidgin language but still mix their local dialects. Then again, most songs from Africa have a single theme, it’s always about sex, women and nonsensical subjects or terms or plain copying of Hip Hop and Dancehall genres from abroad.
The way you brand yourself is everything, here is a case where most Africans are not branding themselves well, doing things that doesn’t make them sell big, some are faking patois, English accent and rap styles. We don’t represent Africa, we tend to represent America where they have enough of what you are copying and pasting. That’s why Angelique Kidjoe, Fela Kuti etc have won the prestigious Grammy awards and the so-called popular African artistes we have now have won anything on the big stage.
Click next for what social media critics are saying about African artistes’ complaints about BET’s backstage awards.
Kojo Awudey wrote on Facebook
First, BET is a huge American brand whose main audience is African-Americans living in the United States as well as nations around the world where they partner with networks for their transmission to be received. Like all broadcast networks, they are constantly in a fierce battle for eyeballs and will do what they can to retain their audience as well as attract new viewers.They have a responsibility to their audience, to generate income, pay taxes to the government of their home nation, the US, create employment, promote artistes or performers within their culture, and to be competitive in their market.
Whilst the African media and entertainment markets are more excited about foreign artistes, the American and, to a lesser extent, the Indian, British, German, French, Japanese and Chinese markets are more interested in their own performers and cultural products. For such a devoted audience that is fascinated by their homegrown talent, any ‘unknown face’ that seeks the spotlight on their national platform must have made the effort to capture the imagination and attention of the people in a profound way.
An unknown or previously not well promoted person on any major screen is likely to cause the network to lose in the battle for eyeballs, and by extension battle in ratings and advertising income. Sad to note but the reverse seems to be the case in Africa where networks and event promoters still believe that the audience is sure to be larger with an imported act than a homegrown star.The battle for eyeballs is clear and present on a minute-by-minute basis: Programme makers and content producers are well aware of this and are guided by this to keep some of their Awards on stage and others offstage so the limited broadcast time may be used to gratify the needs of their key audience.
So BET is doing us good by giving us (Africans) nominations or awards in their award scheme. BET may create opportunities for Africans by giving us nominations or awards, recognize us for our culture or learn from them, but, they do not see us as superior over theirs! They give recognition and praise to their best thinkers, creators, manufacturers, etc. Already, we don’t see our artistes or musicians as big! We see artistes in UK or America as bigger than our own, so the point is, inasmuch as we don’t see the greatness in our own; we shouldn’t expect others to see them as great!