A week ago, on Sunday 12 November to be more precise, I was in Lagos for the third edition of the All Africa Music Awards. For those not familiar with this awards ceremony, the AFRIMA is considered as the equivalent of the Grammys. With thirty-three continental and regional categories altogether, about 700 artistes from all over the continent were expected to attend the prestigious adjudication. The ceremony which was hosted by Senegalese-American singer and producer Akon, and by French-Cameroonian actress and producer Sophy Aiida aired on 109 television channels across the continent.
From my seasonal playlists, it is obvious that I am a huge fan of Nigerian music. As an Afropop music blogger, this opportunity was a dream come true for me as it gave me the chance to visit Africa’s creative arts capital Lagos, and meet its actors. Thanks to connections I managed to get a backstage access for the show, the most important for me given that my main objective was to approach the A-listers present at the ceremony for future content on the blog. So, I did not follow the entire ceremony as I spent most of my time backstage, my logic also being “why would you fly to Lagos just to watch a show you could also watch on TV?”. During the awards night, I was obviously a fan boy but tried to contain myself as I met some of Africa’s finest artistes, from Seyi Shay to Tiwa Savage, Falz to Wizkid and Akon.
For those who are curious, behind the blinds there was nothing bling bling or glamorous, apart from performers in their stage costumes. Talking about that, for me Harrisong and his dancers win the award of best costumes and maybe even best performance, they killed it on stage. The performance was so vibrant that Akon, Sophy Aiida and I found ourselves dancing behind the stage. Still backstage, dancers filled up the corridors, doing their last adjustments before climbing up on stage. While waiting artistes expected to perform did their last make up touchups, photoshoots for the grammers or just chilled in a greenroom. Interactions between artistes ranged from cordial to very casual.
That Sunday night, I got to talk to Akon, Ycee, Locko, Mr Leo, Salif Keita, Tiwa Savage, Seyi Shay, Becca, Falz and Toofan. I’m one of these people that believe that prior to taking a photo with an artiste, it’s important to exchange a few words. So I was fortunate enough to chat with the artistes cited above before taking souvenir photos from our encounter. Wizkid and Akon are the only exceptions though. I spent most of the time backstage around Akon – but your boy had to hold it together in order to be taken seriously – and did not manage to get a picture with him. As for Wizkid, we took a selfie together but I did not have the opportunity to exchange a few words with him as backstage got hectic with people getting ecstatic each time he received an award (three in total including Act of the Year; and Song of the Year). The selfie I took with him is a stolen photo as he was posing with a dancer and I inserted my face in the frame (so yes, I don’t know the girl between Starboy and me). Hopefully, Wiz and I will get to meet and take a proper photo sometime soon.
To cut it short, below are some of the photos and videos taken backstage during AFRIMA 2017 with a brief note on the circumstances under which they were taken.
I took this photo with Salif Keita one of the fathers of African music, a few minutes before he received his Legends Awards from the AFRIMA committee.
I was sitting backstage in a greenroom when the door opened and group of around 10 people entered. I raised my head and who do I see? Tiwa Savage, recipient of the Best Female Artiste in Western Africa award and Falz, one the realest and hottest Nigerian rappers at the moment. I was in awe but had to behave.
I first approached Falz, talked to him about his latest album #27 then took a selfie with him. He is funny and down-to-earth. As for Tiwa Savage, I approached her in between two poses — as she was doing a photoshoot prior to her performance – but she seemed very focused. It’s only later on, when watching the ceremony from the greenroom’s screen that I got to know her better and realized how humble she is.
I met the Togolese group Toofan a few minutes after they’d been announced as winners of the Best Artiste in African Pop category. Cracked some jokes with them before they climbed up on stage to kill it with their medley of ‘Gweta’ and ‘Téré’. By the way, no wonder they won this award, they are the only Francophone African artistes after Magic System played in clubs here in Ghana. They have an important followership across the African continent and worldwide.
This video was taken after her performance on stage. Look at how happy she is on the video, who can imagine that she slipped on stage during her performance? Meeting her and singing her hit single ‘Jangilova’ with her was a dream come true. She has an amazing voice and is really kind!
I actually took videos with him prior to taking this selfie but they didn’t save because I had no more space. So I managed to take this photo an hour later after he’d won the award of Best African Hip Hop. By the way, you should check out his performance of ‘Juice’ at the AFRIMA, clearly different from the original version as he added some soul touches to it.
Last month, I wasn’t able to make it to Becca’s 10th anniversary concert in Accra but I managed to meet her in Lagos. We took this selfie after her performance. Roger (her manager) and her are really cool people (proudly representing Ghanaians!).
The cherry on the cake: this selfie with my Cameroonian homie Locko! He won Best Male Artiste in Central Africa, an award well deserved given how talented he is and how dope his songs are. The photo was taken a few moments before he went on stage to perform ‘Supporter’ with the other homie Mr Leo.
I’m doing what I love and meeting people who in one way or another influenced my life was a dream come true, as I live to make my dreams come true. The AFRIMA 2017 was by far the best night of this year for me. I can’t wait to get all these foreign degrees and come back home to my continent and put them to work. Africa is my playground and in African music I trust.
Initially this article was supposed to be brief but I’am talkative. Thank you for reading and don’t forget to subscribe, more juicy things coming up.