Stakeholders in the music industry are raising concerns and calling upon President Bola Tinubu to halt the proposed partnership between the Nigerian government, represented by Hannatu Musawa, the minister of Art, culture and creative economy and the American Grammy Awards, which aims to establish an African version of the Grammy Awards.
The initiative, which aims to create an award event tailored for African music, has raised concerns among industry players who fear it could jeopardize the hard-earned progress and unique cultural identity of African music.
Reportedly, Musawa is on the verge of finalising a deal with the American Grammy Awards to use its platform for the proposed African Grammy Awards, with Nigeria slated to host the inaugural edition.
However, many industry insiders, including Segun Ogunjimi, CEO of Trending Musik, are cautioning against this move, citing the potential risks it poses to the African music industry’s autonomy and growth trajectory.
Ogunjimi highlighted the remarkable strides made by Nigeria’s music industry players, which has achieved global recognition and acceptance without significant government support and foreign back-up, expressed apprehension that the proposed partnership with the Grammy Awards could undermine the industry’s progress over the past two decades.
Moreover, stakeholders are concerned that the proposed African Grammy Awards could overshadow existing continental music awards and platforms. Ogunjimi stressed the need to maintain and promote African music on its own terms, rather than adopting foreign models that may not align with the continent’s cultural heritage and artistic direction.
“This is a clear case of misplaced priorities. It’s shocking how the minister could endorse the adoption of an award by an entity that doesn’t understand our culture and heritage. It reeks of neo-colonialism, and many of us in the industry see it as a perpetuation of a culture of waste that could harm our economy.
“Why bring in an American entity when we have well-established music award institutions that have tirelessly celebrated and honoured our music icons in an authentic African manner, gaining global acceptance in the process? Instead of supporting homegrown initiatives like the Headies, All African Music Awards, AFRIMA, Soundcity MVP Awards, and Trace Awards, among others, the minister has opted to prioritize foreign involvement. This is unacceptable and should be condemned by all those who love this country and the burgeoning creative industry.
“There is a movement within the music industry to reject this vexatious initiative by Musawa and we are calling on President Tinubu to prevail on the minister to bury this idea forthwith,” he said.
Benjamin Iguebor, a veteran music producer and industry consultant, echoed similar sentiments. He emphasized the importance of preserving Africa’s rich musical heritage and cautioned against prioritizing international recognition over the continent’s diverse musical traditions.
Iguebor emphasized the significant role that African music awards institutions, such as the All African Music Awards (AFRIMA), Headies, Ghana Music Awards (GMA),Soundcity MVP Awards, Trace Awards and SAMA, South African music Awards amongst others, play in promoting the continent’s music industry on a global level. He argued that supporting these locally-grown initiatives is crucial in fostering the growth and sustainability of African music, rather than importing foreign elements that will not align with the continent’s unique cultural identity and context.
“Obviously, Minister Hanatu Musawa is ignorant of the workings and intricacies of the global music industry where cultural identities and products are protected and promoted for the benefits of national pride and economic security. The stakeholders in the industry are poised to call out and expose the egocentric individuals who are involved in these shenanigans of reversing the gains that have been made in the music industry and sell us out to second slavery, but we will fight it till the end.
“While international recognition and collaboration is indeed valuable, we must not overlook the significance and beauty of Africa’s rich musical traditions; we saw it at the just-concluded Grammys. The individuals being brought in do not grasp the intricacies that define African music. They will merely come here, extract our resources, and organize an award ceremony that fails to resonate with our unique characteristics because they lack an understanding of them.
“We already have established awards institutions that have effectively showcased us to the world. The continent’s music industry enjoys global acclaim today, largely due to the collaborative efforts of these organizations and other stakeholders. Instead of importing foreign elements that are not only unfamiliar but also detrimental to our progress, why not continue nurturing our own by providing support to these entities?”