By Tosin Ajirire and Josephine Chidebe
For Mike Dada, President/Executive Producer, All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), the award ceremony is a way to communicate Africa and change the way people perceive the continent.
Scheduled to hold on Sunday, November 12, 2017 at Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, AFRIMA will be hosted by Grammy award winning superstar, Akon. In this interview, Dada reveals the excitements and challenges of organising the awards and why he has decided to bring the Senegal-born music star to Nigeria.
What are the objectives of AFRIMA?
The major objective is to create a platform where we can communicate the strength of Africa to the rest of the world, for global competitiveness through culture, arts and entertainment. The idea is to create jobs and make people proud to be Africans. We want to tell the world that something good and great can come out of Africa. We want the world to know that Africa should not be only known for poverty, diseases, wars, homelessness and joblessness.
What’s the theme for this year’s AFRIMA?
The general theme for AFRIMA is ‘For Hope, For Celebration’. But this year, for various events, we have different themes. For instance, we have as themes ‘The Digital Take Over’, ‘Shaping the Future of African Music’ with the sub-theme ‘Music Money Media’. And for the award ceremony, we are focusing on the youth.
What is the feedback from Africans in general, the excitement and all?
The feedback is very encouraging. People are coming from all over Africa, all over the world – Europe, America and even Africans in the Diaspora. We are getting calls every second, everyday; you’ve been around yourself, you see people coming in and going out, so the traffic is heavy. The crew members – our lighting, designers, programmers from different countries have arrived to collaborate with their Nigerian counterparts, so excitement is great, the reception has been very fantastic and encouraging.
How can AFRIMA transform Africa?
It is a movement and it’s moving, and that is why I am calling on people to join the team before it leaves them behind. AFRIMA has all the elements to be the biggest event in the world. The whole world is looking at Africa. Africa is the next frontier. Africa is where we have the biggest opportunities and accomplishments. Africa is the future and AFRIMA has the capacity to play a key role in taking Africa from where it is today to where it ought to be. There is a cultural battle going on in the world. Americans want you to behave like Americans, and even the Chinese want you to learn mandarin. So, we need to take our own message to them, we need to tell our own stories, we need to tell our own narratives.
What informed the decision to bring Akon to host this year’s AFRIMA?
AFRIMA is for the best of Africa, so that’s why we have to choose the best of the continent. You will agree with me that Akon is one of the best in the continent, and the intention basically is to look for people whose ideas align with the philosophy and idea behind AFRIMA, which of course is to love Africa and communicate Africa for global competitiveness. And you will agree that Akon is a lover of Africa.
The Senegal-born superstar has a track record of outstanding success in the global music industry. He has brought immense recognition to Africa’s creative energy and originality. A Grammy award winning singer, songwriter, record producer and actor, Akon has etched his name in the Guinness Book of World Records as the number one selling artiste for master ringtones in the world. Ranked the fifth most powerful celebrity in Forbes’s Africa list of 40, Akon is also a business man and philanthropist who is passionate about the African continent. He provided electricity for 15 African countries through his “Light Africa Project” and supported underprivileged youngsters through his Konfidence Initiative. He is the proprietor of Konvict Music and Kon Live Republic, two successful record labels.
Akon is going to be supported by Sophy Aiida, a prolific broadcaster who is known on radio as Cameroon’s biggest girl-next-door. Sophy was born in Paris and moved to New York where she spent 15 years before returning to Cameroon to contribute to her homeland. The multilingual and multi-talented lady is regarded as one of Central Africa’s biggest show hosts.
Aside being a show host, Sophy is also an actor and musician.
Let’s talk about the Africa Music Business Roundtable and AFRIMA Music Village…
The AFRIMA Music Village is an evening of non-stop open music festival of live performances from African stars and nominees, with an audience of over 40,000 people. It is holding at the Waterfront Bar Beach, Victoria Island, Lagos on Friday, November 10, 2017 from 6pm till dawn. Prominent experiential marketing/production agency, Backstage Pro is producing the event.
However, preceding the concert in the morning is Africa Music Business Roundtable. It is a platform created by AFRIMA for engagement on music, money, media and evolving global business practices as they affect the creative industries in Africa. It’s a roundtable discussion of eminent stakeholders in the African entertainment industry. Scheduled for the Grand Ballroom, Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, the event is being held in association with entertainment cable channel, TRACE with the theme: ‘Digital Takeover: Shaping the Future of African Music’.
The main awards ceremony is taking place on Sunday, November 12 in association with Lagos State, the official Host City. It will be a colourful, performance-packed event graced by music stars, captains of industry, diplomats, government officials, and music lovers from across the continent. The event will be broadcast live across 84 countries in Africa.
What were your challenges from inception?
Life is all about challenges. It is your ability to find solution to these challenges that make you a man. And that is what makes the difference between an ordinary man and an extraordinary man because nothing good comes easy. The challenges we faced the first year were that of funding and people believing in us. Thank God, this year we have grown bigger. Last year, we had participation from over top 300 African artistes under one roof. Now, a lot of people believe in our capability to pull it off. I am happy that many people are catching the vibe and the fever of the vision. It is not just another jamboree. There may be poverty, diseases and wars in Africa but we should not allow such to make us lose sight of our aims and objectives, which is to provide solutions to challenges in Africa. From the very beginning, we saw it as our responsibility for it to succeed and we couldn’t afford to disappoint ourselves. It has been tough but it has also been exciting.
Compared to last edition, what are we expecting to make this year’s AFRIMA different?
One of the surprise elements is bringing Akon and Sophy as the host and hostess for this year’s awards. By that we have raised the bar to another level, so let’s keep it till then.