The Nigerian internet space was ablaze with celebration when Rivers State-born Damini “Burna Boy” Ogulu clinched the highly coveted gold-coloured gramophone for the Best Global Album in the 63rd annual Grammy Awards on the night of March 14th. His acceptance speech was indeed epic as he bursted out with chants of “Yes o! Yes o!“, while the rest of his family roared in excitement at the announcement of their own Oluwa Burna as the winner. And just recently he was treated to a real fest at his home city of Port Harcourt for his outstanding global achievement.
But after all the noise of victory has been made, we have to ask ourselves a very sincere question. Why do Nigerian artists chase international clout so much so that they neglect the attention given to them by the local awards? This question arises, as it was a complete eyesore that in the just concluded Headies Awards, only Wizkid was reportedly “convinced” to show up at the event to give it the star presence it needed to draw some traction. Burna Boy (the champion of 2020) and his closest rival, Davido, both ignored what was supposed to be Nigeria’s premier award ceremony.
Last year, British modeling icon, Naomi Campbell, complained of the Grammy organizer’s failure to recognize the buzzing genre of Afrobeats by giving it an award category of its own. Three-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo followed suit by positing that African artists deserve a brighter spotlight at the Grammies for the work they put into their craft.
Two things are certain: the annual Grammy Awards is an American award event and American musicians are its immediate priority. We Africans have the AFRIMA and the MTV African Music Award (MAMA) to hold high, but we always capitulate to the cultural soft power of America. If we don’t value our own award bodies in the country, then we’ll continue to be dependent on the West for validation as a form of global marketing. Global exposure in itself is a praiseworthy goal, but we must borrow a leaf from the Indian entertainment industry and not relegate our entertainment establishments and go lusting for a pat on the back from the Yankees.
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