Dar es Salaam — It has been a long way but finally the black entertainment television award jinx for Tanzania was finally broken.
Rayvanny finally joined Uganda’s Eddy Kenzo as the only artist from East Africa to have won the prestigious award that defines black entertainment.
As usual, the award came a bit earlier than the main ceremony in a week when BET came under criticism for the supposed leaks of winners on their website.
He beat well-established artists in the International Viewers’ Choice Dave (United Kingdom), Amanda Black (South Africa), Changmo (South Korea), Daniel Caesar, Remi and Skip Marley all from Jamaica.
“Hey guys, we did it. Thanks everybody who voted for me. My brother Diamond Platnumz, I know you are waiting for this. This is not mine bro, this is yours because you sacrificed yourself for me. Yo my brother. This one is for you. Thanks a lot BET Awards, this means a lot to me,” Rayvanny wrote on his page.
His reception at the Julius Nyerere International Airport was a celebrity affair as thousands of youthful fans turned up to receive the artiste.
The convoy later made its way through the streets of Dar es Salaam at a snail’s pace as fans always brought the procession to a stop.
This came after several years of false starts for artist whose names are now synonymous with Bongo Flava itself such as Diamond, Vanessa Mdee and even Alikiba.
And it was from a very unlikely source, from an artist who only made a breakthrough over a year ago.
His win reverberated across the region as congratulatory messages flood his social network page from fellow musicians to socialites like Wema Sepetu and Jokate Mwegelo.
Kenya’s Jua Cali was all praise for the artist saying it was positive for East Africa’s music and especially for those who sing in Kiswahili.
“It has always been a dream for each one of us to take East Africa’s music to the rest of the world. As you know there is plenty of competition out there, we are up against Americans, West Africans, Europe and several others, so a win like this one is worth celebrating,” wrote rapper Jua Cali.
If you were to ask anyone, Rayvanny was not a favorite choice for this breakthrough, in fact, many would have vouched for his mentor Diamond or the other so called Bongo Flava bigwigs.
And he is a man on a mission as he immediately connected with Jason Derullo for a recording session which had been rumoured after the two artists met at the Coke Studio Africa session in Nairobi a couple of weeks ago.
There was always a silver lining for this young man especially after his nomination at the Mamas in 2016, though he came home empty handed it laid down the marker that the world noticed him.
To some pundits, there is a deep-seated story to Rayvanny’s win than what we see on the surface for there is an indication that his star is on the rise.
“Today when you ask anyone of the stars of our music they will point at obvious names such as Diamond, AliKiba, Navy Kenzo and the sort but it seems the music is somewhere else,” says the pundit who preferred anonymity.
In his view the recent years has seen the rise of some very talented artists who by all means look destined to take over the mantle from the established order.
“There are some fresh sounds in someone like Nandy, Malaika, Barnaba and even Dogo Asley which is worth noticing but the problem is that we are glued on the obvious,” he says.
As the good word seemed to sooth Rayvanny’s fans Basata were at it again stirring controversy instead of rejoicing in the new found harmony.
For some reason on his arrival, the Julius Nyerere International Airport the national arts council officials were suspiciously absent.
In an earlier briefing the Basata chief Godfrey Mungereza said though it was a commendable win, the artist didn’t inform them of his travels leaving them with no choice.
“We always advise artists to bring a formal notification to the council when traveling to such events. As of now we don’t have any grounds of organizing an official reception for him,” he said.
But even as we ask multiple questions and WCB lays claim of being the first record label to reach that feat in the region, there is one question, why does BET matter?
Watching televised awards shows can be a torturous experience. We spend most of the time trying to figure out who’s who among the nominees while waiting on a familiar face, song, or show to be mentioned in the nominees.
Black popular culture is vast. It is not monolithic. We have carved out our own unique space in every aspect of pop culture while the rest watched and sometimes imitated.
It is a fact that the five or six nominees that make it to the Grammys’ Best Rap category aren’t always reflective of the music that is soundtracking the culture. The winners certainly aren’t.
During the BET Awards, you can sing along to nearly every song and identify nearly every entertainer on their red carpet. It’s a refreshing submergence into the best of Black pop culture.
Not to mention the fact that BET Awards are a rite of passage for Black musical artists. While the biggest names in Black Hollywood are known for skipping the event, attending and performing there has been vital to their career at one point or another.
BET offers a massive platform to Black entertainers who would normally be overlooked by the other outlets promoting the music industry.
This is why artists like Nicki Minaj are shaded by fans when they decide to bail on the ceremony. To borrow a familiar proverb, they’ve “forgotten where they came from.”
On the flip side, Black entertainers who haven’t targeted the Black market can utilize the event as a way to stake their claim to a seat at Black culture’s table.
This year’s presenters included Trevor Noah and Leslie Jones, two figures who have recently blossomed in popularity but haven’t necessarily connected to Black audiences exclusively.
For them, showing up at the BET Awards is the entertainment industry equivalent of affirming their “street creed” and authenticity.
Despite the network’s shortcomings — like giving misogynists a platform to be horrible, trying to stiff actors out of money, and policing the gender of hired talent — BET is one of the strongest pillars of Black entertainment.
Their annual awards show honors the Black people making waves in not only music, but sports, television, and film as well.
– Paul Owere I The Citizen