Insult or honour: Africa receives 2013 BET award in front of empty seats

I had wanted to stay out of this year’s Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards which came off on June 30 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles and the ‘brouhaha’ that Africa for the first time received her award on stage.

Last year after Sarkodie won Ghana’s first BET Award – Best International (Africa) – with Nigerian musician Wizkid, many cried foul that once again Africa had been relegated to the background.

Why did we say Africa had been relegated to the background? The award was presented ‘backstage’ and many felt African artistes deserved better. Organizers should treat them like other artistes and present their awards to them on stage, it was argued by some pundits!

Rapper D-Black, who was nominated for the 2011 edition of the awards, told in an interview after last year’s edition that “out of all the 20 categories [of the awards], Africa [has] only one [nomination] and they can spare us just three minutes for us to receive the award [on stage]. It is sad that artistes fly to the US just to receive the award backstage.”

Well it seems the huge outcry yielded dividends this year – depending on which angle you are looking at the results from – because Africa received her award on stage!

This year, the award was a competition between Ghanaian duo R2Bees, Ice Prince (Nigeria), 2Face Idibia (Nigeria), Toya Delazy (South Africa), Radio and Weasel (Uganda), and Donald (South Africa). Ice Prince won.

Ghanaian actor, model and presenter Samuel Osei Sarpong presented Ice Prince with his award on stage. In great show of respect, the Nigerian invited the others contenders whom he beat to the award, with the exception of 2Face, who was not at the awards, to join him on stage and share in his glory.

Empty seats behind Ice Prince

Empty seats behind Ice Prince broke the news that he had picked up the award hours before main awards. Whilst writing the story I wondered how and why the organizers presented the award ahead of the main awards. I concluded that as usual the award was presented backstage.

It was a delight to later watch Ice Prince receive the award on stage but interestingly it emerged that the Nigerian had received the award at the Nokia Theatre in front of empty seats! There was virtually nobody in the event hall!

Well, it is the view of some that the move to present Africa with the award on stage alone indicates significant progress and the organizers should be commended. That view does not resonate with everyone, including myself.

Presenting the award in front of empty seats, in my view, is as demeaning as presenting the award backstage. The move clearly still shows that organizers do not really value African music and its artistes and the nomination for the awards is just a PR gimmick.

It is still unclear if the ‘empty seats’ award presentation was aired at the awards venue, although we watched it later as being a part of the main awards.

My passionate appeal to Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET, and organizers of the awards is that, please if you know you have the resources to nominate and fly African artistes to the US for the awards then just present the award to them on stage. Is that too much to ask for? Well I would have wished that on top of that, you allow African acts to also show their talent on stage too.

Personally I think if you cannot present the award to our cherished acts on stage after flying them to the event, please do not even take the initiative to fly them there! After all the pieces you present on the night are dummies of the real award.

BET I strongly believe that African music has come of age and we deserve some respect!

Ice Prince BET

Culled from Myjoyonline

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