So Jah Prayzah made history yesterday by being the first Zimbabwean to win an MTV MAMA award. He won the listeners choice award which is quite huge as he was up against a number of great African contenders. He was able to beat South Africa’s Prince Kaybee and Nigerian Burna Boy among other big names. In fact today Uganda is headlining “Bebe Cool loses award to Jah Prayzah”. Uganda was expecting Bebe Cool to win it. But Prayzah did. It was the most competitive and biggest category of the MTV MAMA Awards 2016.
Even though I am not a huge fan of Jah Prayzah’s music I have to congratulate him. He has done extremely well to get this international recognition. Zimbabwe as a nation is not known for making such a mark on the international music stage, so this is truly historical. Awards like this are important, not just for Prayzah personally, but for making Zimbabwe recognizable among other African counties. Jah Prayzah, you nailed it and this is coming from probably your biggest online critic. Sometimes in life when you do well, even the people who criticize you will congratulate you, that is the beauty of success. In shona we have a proverb, “chakanaka chakanaka, mukaka haurungwe”. Today that proverb is very fitting for Prayzah. Well done Jah Prayzah.
With social media, we are now living in an era where the word ‘Award ‘is slowly losing its value and meaning. I am noticing this growing trend in the Zimbabwean and some African circles on social media. People are just creating so many awards shows every year that the whole thing is becoming rather ridiculous. I cant keep track. Its like every month there are some random awards created by random people who have not contributed anything to their community apart from creating the so called awards. In the categories of nominees will be their circle of friends and cheerleaders. I am up for innovation and lifting one another in the community, but now its like one in every 5 people on Facebook has some sort of award given to them by their friends or inner circles. Lets go back to the quality of awards and what they really mean.
This is why for this moment I really applaud Jah Prayzah because he has received a true award that is recognized on an international level, putting Zimbabwe on the map. He was not nominated because of his social circles neither was he given this award by a best friend, he was simply honored for his work.
Now that said, I am truly disappointed by the way Jah Prayzah handled this nomination and award. He has robbed himself the international recognition of winning this important MTV award. Oh Jah Prayzah I may not know much but today I wish I was your marketing consultant and PR. I also sense that Zimbabweans are not fully celebrating with him, considering it is a historical moment. Maybe it’s because of the recent sexual scandals that he has been entangled with former dancer Gonyeti (Pamela Zulu). People are still in a state of confusion about the recent making up he did with his estranged former dancer. I believe the reason why he is not being celebrated to the level he should is because Jah Prayzah himself has no idea how to handle such a moment. Like I have said before, Zimbabwean celebrities lack good PR and management. They have no idea how to market themselves. This maybe the very reason why Zimbabwe legs behind when it comes to music and entertainment.
Where on earth was Jah Prayzah yesterday? Somebody tell me why he was not at the MTV MAMA Awards 2016? How could he miss attending a prestigious award event that has the whole Africa and the world watching? How could he miss attending an event where he made history by just being nominated? Did he think there was no point going because he thought he would never win? Where is the pride and self belief? Did he not have the finances to attend? Did he have a cold or sore throat? I mean why? Why didn’t he go?
Today there should be headlines of his acceptance speech not only in the Zimbabwean media, but all over Africa. Whatever he would have said as he accepted his award would have been his mark that he would have been known for on an international level. This was now his new territory, like a lion, he needed to mark it. I have seen people’s acceptance speeches on big awards getting them talked about for weeks, creating discussions and changing perceptions on issues affecting the society.
Remember Halle Berry when she became the first black female Oscar winner. Remember Viola Davies when she became the first black Emmy winner. Most people did not even know who these people were until they won those awards and made those acceptance speeches that got every media focusing on them for weeks, even gaining them knew opportunities. This was Jah Prayzah chance to get the voice of the Zimbabwe music industry out there. That was his chance to win a host of new fans outside Zimbabwe. To achieve that, he had to be there in person. Posting videos on his Facebook page thanking his fans and asking people to celebrate with him is robbing himself. That is why there isn’t much hype about him winning this award nationally and internationally. If you can’t take yourself seriously, no one will.
Jah Prayzah and other Zimbabwean upcoming musicians should learn how other African artists market themselves and increase their fan base. For example, Nigerian Yemi Alade, a self-acclaimed Mama Africa who beat Tiwa Savage to win the ‘best female artiste’ award at the MTV Africa Music Awards yesterday used this opportunity as branding strategy. Today she is dominating the headlines of the MTV MAMA awards because she took the opportunity to market herself and gain a whole new international fan base. Everyone was expecting Tiwa Savage to win but she did. So she went up there to receive her award and spoke out about something that the world was already talking about. I did not know Yemi Alade, but today I do simply because she made a positive statement yesterday. I will now go and listen to her music to understand who she actually is. She believed she was able to beat Tiwa Savage and all the other big contenders.
Now she went on that stage and decided not just to accept an award but encourage all African women. She went out there and took it as an opportunity to market herself not only as a singer, but a gender advocate, something that all women will relate to. It is simply called branding. Zimbabwean musicians, please watch and learn. You have to go beyond the music and be a brand.
While delivering her acceptance speech, Yemi Alade reacted to president Muhammadu Buhari’s controversial comments that his wife, Aisha, belongs to the kitchen and the other room.
“Women, don’t forget that we are not only good in the kitchen, living room and the other room — we are also good at anywhere we want to be”, she said.
Now Zimbabwean celebrities, that is called marketing and branding. Learn to enlarge the tent of your territories. You do not accept such an award in your living room via Facebook video, especially if it’s the first time to be nominated for such an award, not just for yourself but for your country. Facebook is for the fans you already have. Yemi Alade has won a number of prestigious awards, from Mobo awards to BET awards, but she still saw it as an important part of her career to attend the MTV MAMA awards. Opportunities like this come once in a life time. All I know is that very important acceptance speech could have taken Jah Prayzah to the next level. What a shame. What a wasted opportunity.