By Yinka Akanbi
Stakeholders in the music industry have called on President Bola Tinubu to stop a proposed partnership between Nigeria and the Recording Academy in the United States allegedly being spearheaded by the minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa.
The Minister, with the backing of a senior Presidency chief, is allegedly bidding for the franchise to set up an African version of the Grammy Awards in Nigeria, just like the Latin America Grammys.
The purported move has raised concerns among industry players who fear it could jeopardize the hard-earned progress and unique cultural identity of African music.
Unconfirmed reports say that Ms. Musawa who attended the just-concluded Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, is on the verge of finalising the deal with the organisers of the Grammy Awards to use its platform for the proposed African Awards, with Nigeria slated to host the inaugural edition.
Cautioning against the move, Segun Ogunjimi, CEO of Trending Musik, expressed worry 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 and stifle the existing continental music awards like the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), The Headies, Sound City Awards and Trace Africa Nusic Awards among others.
He 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, 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.
Music Producer and Industry Consultant, Benjamin Iguebor, emphasized the importance of preserving Africa’s rich musical heritage and cautioned against prioritizing international recognition over the continent’s diverse musical traditions.
He argued that supporting locally-grown initiatives is crucial in fostering the growth and sustainability of African music, rather than importing foreign elements.
Iguebor said: “Obviously, the 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 exposed 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?”
Musawa had before bow been embroiled in a major controversy over her status as a serving national youth Corps member.
The Nigerian Bar Association had last month sued her and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) over what it termed the illegality of a serving youth Corps member at 50 years also retaining a full time job of a minister.
By Yinka Akanbi