Monday, 9 November 2009

Honour comes home


WHEN Sasha, real name Antonia Yetunde Alabi, was checking in at the Murtala Mohammed Airport Terminal One on the night of Wednesday October, 28; for her flight to South Africa, her attendant had strictly inquired what the short trip was for, “business or pleasure.” With a straight face, she had replied, “Channel O Music Video Awards.” This response immediately elicited a hue of best wishes from the airline staff; “best of luck, please do bring the awards back home for us; Sasha, do us proud; nice one and congratulations in advance.”
With an inner stiffening of resolve that is like a suppressed yawn, the hip-hop act, who was apparently worn out by the immigration procedure, managed to offer “Thanks,” but with a reluctance, ”I hope I win ‘coz I am nominated for just one award.”
Definitely, it was a different Sasha who, as happy as a child who had just learned to walk, jumped on stage at the Carnival City to receive the award for the Most Gifted Female Video.

FOR the winners and organizers of the 2009 Channel O Music Video Awards, the night of October 29, was one that fate shined on Jo’Burg, and brought with it glowing happiness. It was a night Africa’s young and gifted artistes came out in dazzling garb to shine.
From the red carpet, which kicked-off at 7p.m with the spectacle of the cream of Africa’s entertainment scene, to the exquisite dinner at the award venue one hour later, followed by the awards, which climaxed with a groovy after-party that ended in the early hours of the morning, it was a celebration of class and a night not to forget in a long time. Everybody who walked into the award’s venue through the VIP entrance and stepped on the red covering held their heads high for raising the bar in music and video production across Africa.
For Darey Art Alade, one of the award’s trio of double winners, which included Gal Level (Namibia) and Buffalo Souljah (Zimbabwe), he proudly strutted the red carpet with his striking white blazers on a green Naija T-shirt, exuding confidence and giving the artistes’ peculiar hi- five salute. He was not alone, as he led in tow of the contingent of Nigeria’s artistes to the hall, which included J-Martins, Tuface, Sound Sultan, Nneka, Sasha, Naeto C, Bantu, and the nation’s newest entrant to the music scene, winner of Naija Sings, Jon, among many others.
After a plush dinner served with the combination of the continent’s finest cuisine, the awards rolled off when the talented trio of Vuzu VJ Nonhle and Channel O’s own Lungile and KB appeared on stage as the award’s host. In moments, the hall was electrified as men and women who had rocked the entire continent with their forte climbed the stage in turns to either perform or receive an award. Summing it up, everybody, including cheer-leaders, with loud screams of excitement, was on fire.
Darey and his band of double winners, must have been lucky to have climbed the stage twice for the coveted plaque, a further proof of their pulling power with Africa’s music fans and Channel O’s viewers who chose the winners in the 14 categories. Darey was named Best Male and also winner of Best R&B for Not The Girl, a track off his album unDAREYted. His win comes ahead of the third edition of the Nigerian Music Video Awards, where Darey is the leading nominee with six nods.
Darey’s triumph at the event was matched only by the success of both Buffalo Souljah and Gal Level. Their collaboration with Taygrin, for the tune Type of Guy was named Best Duo, proving the unstoppable power of three top African artists working together. Gal Level scored another win on the night when the Namibian duo’s video Touch Me, took the award for Best Afro Pop.
Zimbabwean Buffalo Souljah took home last year’s award for Best Newcomer and the 2009 channel O Music Awards again proved fertile ground when his video Judgment was named Best Dancehall for the second year in a row, knocking off Nigeria’s Bantu and other nominees for the award.
Naeto C brought home the fiercely contested Amarula Video of the Year Award for Ki Ni Big Deal off the album U Know My P. It was a sweet victory for the Nigerian rapper who came on stage twice too, but first to receive for Ikechukwu’s Shoobeedoo the Most Gifted West African Video presented by Big Brother host, IK.
Naeto C played an integral part in Channel O’s Emcee Africa II and features, with winner, Cibil Nyte, and other leading rappers, on the track All Round Africa, specially created for the reality talent search.
Accepting his award, Darey had dedicated his first award to all African children who love African music, but when he came back on stage, words seem to fail him. “I was not expecting this,” he began. “First and foremost, I thank God for making this happen, I say a big hello to all my people on Facebook who voted for me, my South African brothers and sisters, shout out to all the nominees, the entire Storm family and my beautiful wife, Biola.”
Sasha’s first word on stage was ‘oh’. “I have been waiting to exhale forever. I want to say a big ‘Thank you’ to Channel O, my family and friends who voted for me. I love you all and just want to say, work hard, pray hard and you will all see your dreams come true.” At Naeto C’s turn on stage, he said, “I feel humbled to be here and I thank God for giving me the talent to be recognized, Storm Records for giving me the platform to broadcast my talent and MNet Nigeria for supporting our careers all the way.”
Indeed the unsung hero of the night would go to Obi Osika, whose record label, Storms 360, produced most of all the Nigerian videos that were honoured.
But the Naija story at Jo’Burg was not about artists clutching award plaques. The duo of Tuface and Sound Sultan nearly caused a dancehall stampede with Enter The Place. Though nominated for Best R&B Video, which Darey won, Tuface brought his charm on stage, adding value and luster in so many ways to his star-studded audience. In like manner, Nigeria’s newest international performer, Nneka, though failed to grab an award after her Heartbeat nomination in three categories, however got the audience to nod their heads, snap their fingers and tap their feet in response to her dexterity on the guitar.
But the moment that brought the roof down was before the presentation of special recognition award to the late Brenda Fassie, who died in 2004, when her son and younger sister in a tribute, performed the evergreen Vulindlel. The famous song led to the release of emotions, many chanted the song passionately and violently, while others could not hold back tears, remembering the times of the great South African born singer. Her son, Bongani ‘Bongz’ Fassie, who is following in his mother’s footsteps, received the posthumous award for his mother.

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