Burna Boy and Sha Sha made headlines (and in the Zimbabwean’s case, history) as they walked away with an award each from the recently concluded BET Awards. Meanwhile, Anatii and Wizkid also shared an award with Beyonce. With all four of them competing with artists from across the globe, the wins served to confirm something we’ve believed for a long time – that the time for Africa as the pinnacle for global arts and entertainment has truly arrived.
There’s been no shortage African musicians on the international scene over the past few decades. The likes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo (South Africa), Oliver Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe), Fela Kuti (Nigeria and Miriam Makeba (SA) are renowned across the globe and at the height of their careers, their toured and collaborated with international artists of the highest calibre. Even in more recent times, one needs not look too far at the Billboard charts to spot some local influence – Tinashe (Zimbabwean Heritage) and Doja Cat (South African) are both everpresents.
But something has been brewing in the motherland for some time. Our entertainment and music industries have swollen gradually to the point where the world has no choice but to stand up and take notice. If this wasn’t already clear enough, it was re-emphasized last week as Burna Boy and Sha Sha edged competition from some of the world’s biggest new acts to win their respective prizes.
Burna Boy walked away with the “Best International Act” prize, while Sha Sha won the “Viewers Choice Best New International Act” at the virtual ceremony. Burna Boy is no stranger to the BET stage, having won the same category last year (the previous year was won by another Nigerian, Davido) but for Sha Sha it was not only first international victory, but the first win at the BET Awards for a Zimbabwean musician.
While all of this makes for some great reading during the age of the pandemic, where good news has been hard to come by, it should be mentioned that this should only serve as the beginning of the modern African music rennaisance.
True victory would be to see the likes of Burna Boy, Sha Sha, Sho Madjozi (another nominee at this year’s ceremony) and more of Africa’s biggest talents competing head for head against their American counterparts for their rightful prizes.
There’s still plenty of work to be done before that becomes a year-on-year reality but the groundwork has definitely been paved by recent years of success at the prestigious ceremony.
What will it take to see Burna Boy winning an award in the same category as Drake next time around?