A day after the third edition of the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) which took place at Eko Hotels in Lagos, Nigeria, I got a call from a friend who writes for a Ghanaian based Nigerian newspaper.
He called to find out my opinion about the just ended awards.
He also wanted to find out if I shared in the opinion that, the AMVCA is sort of biased especially in the awards organisation. I disagree with such an opinion. I will come to that briefly.
During the first edition of what has become an annual award to reward excellence in the movie industry on the African continent, I had the privilege to be present at the ceremony in Lagos with another Ghanaian journalist.
In the second year, I watched on television while other journalists were flown to the event. In the just ended third edition, I joined the staff of MultiChoice Ghana, some subscribers of DStv and GOtv and some other media personalities at the Labadi Beach Hotel as MultiChoice Ghana held live viewing of the awards.
As we gazed our eyes on the large screens watching the red carpet followed by the main awards, one would be tempted to ask if the AMVCA is biased against non-Nigerians and was instituted to benefit only the Nigerian movie industry.
I want to believe that the Ghanaian contingent made up of Shirley Frimpong-Manso, Joselyn Dumas, Adjetey Anang, Zynnell Zuh, Ophelia Crossland and others made their way to the 2015 edition of the awards in Lagos hoping to return home with some awards in the following categories;
Best actress in a comedy – Lydia Forson in A Letter From Adam, Best Actor in a Drama – Adjetey Anang in Devil In The Detail, Best Actress in a Drama – Joselyn Dumas in Love or Something Like that, Best Comedy Writer – Zynnell Zuh and David Amah for When Love Comes Around and Lydia Forson in ‘A Letter From Adam.
The rest included Best Costume Designer – Nana Akua Manso for the movie, Love or Something Like That, Best Drama Writer – Shirley Frimpong-Manso, for Devil In The Detail, Best Movie (Comedy) – A Letter From Adam, by Lydia Forson, Best Movie (Drama) – Devil In the Detail, by Shirley Frimpong Manso, Best Movie Director – Shirley Frimpong-Manso, Best Sound Editor – Kofi Boachie-Ansah for Love or Something Like That and Best Video Editor – Nana Akua Manso for Devil In The Detail.
However, the team returned without a single award to show for all the numerous nominations. No awards simply mean that, the votes garnered by the Ghanaian nominees during the voting process were inadequate to win them any awards on the night.
Since the way of determining winners were left in the hands of the viewers, Ghanaian nominees couldn’t make a case for themselves by way of voting, that resulted in the no show recorded by Ghana at the annual awards.
For one to win any award, the person must acquire enough votes – something which is as simple as it sounds. All the awards on the night ended up in the hands of movie makers, actors, actresses, editors, make-up artistes, directors in the Nigerian movie industry. This is why I don’t share in the sentiment of the awards being biased, until the voting pattern is changed.
For an awards that prides itself as rewarding excellence in the African movie industry, the outcome appeared more of a Nigerian awards than an African awards.
My worry itself is not about the outcome of the voting, which resulted in all the awards going to Nollywood practitioners. Having been part of the awards in the first edition, I can say that, I fully appreciate and understand the concept of the awards. Apart from that, I thought every other thing about the awards was unduly centred on Nigeria.
What happened at the AMVCA was not different from the Nollywood Movie Awards or Nigerian Movie Awards. Both presenters, awardees, performers were all Nigerians. How then does Southern, Northern, Central, Eastern and Western Africans relate to the awards?
My observation of the red carpet ceremony was that, the only Ghanaians at the awards were the nominees who graced the red carpet. Not good at all. However, virtually every Nollywood star including those who had not been nominated were interviewed on the red carpet.
This is where I bring in the prestigious Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) where they invite many industry players from a particular country, provided the country gets nominations in any category of the awards.
In my four years of attending the AMAAs in Bayelsa, I can appreciate the all-inclusiveness of the awards since it brings together industry players from all parts of the continent. I stand to be corrected if indeed some Ghanaians without nominations were invited to the awards and had a chance to grace the red carpet.
Last year, when Ghanaian music duo, Keche, were announced to perform at the AMAAs, as replacement for music duo, 4X4, I was skeptical because they were not well known in Nigeria. However, I believe this action by the AMAA organisers was evident of their resolve to make the show and all-inclusive African event.
Clearly, apart from the Nigerian productions that got the majority of nominations prior to the awards, Ghana followed closely. This means, there is some level of interest from Ghanaians back home. But what did African see?
Africans saw only non-Ghanaian performers on the night – Osas Ighodaro, the Mavins Crew, Tuface Idibia, Lola Rae, Diamond Platinumz and P-Square. AfricaMagic can do better than this.
I believe its time that the awards is really made African and performances picked across board. African viewers want to feel the “Africanness” in the awards and not only the Nigerian aspect.
In advocating for other movie personalities to be invited to the awards aside the nominees, some of them should actually get the opportunity to present awards to some categories. I think Africa was tired of 99 percent of the awards presentation being done by Nollywood practitioners.
AfricaMagic and its partners must think outside the box and make the awards an African one in every aspect and not only in name.
By Ebenezer Anangfio / Graphic Showbiz