Salax Awards were once ‘the event’ in Rwanda’s showbiz industry. Having come at a time when the music industry needed them most, the award show was welcomed by many celebrities.
However, when artistes accused the organisers of being unfair and started shunning them, nothing was left to make of the once prestigious and only award show in the music industry.
Although music awards have for so long held a big place in the showbiz industry, critics in recent years have decried their significance citing major issues such as unfairness, arguing that organisers simply want to get quick money out of the business.
Be it world major award shows such as the Grammys or American Music Awards, most award shows have been subjected to intense criticism to a point of being rendered pointless.
However, music enthusiasts claim that the role these events have to play is outstanding, arguing that without them, the music industry could go down the drain.
What do artistes and supporters of the music industry have to make of this then?
Rhythm and blues singer Allioni, real name Aline Buzindu, says music awards play a very significant role when it comes to boosting the music industry.
She says awards are one way of recognising and appreciating the hard work of an artiste, adding that such a gesture gives morale to musicians to work even harder.
“We need this as musicians and the music industry at large. More awards in fact should come up and you will see how the industry grows. For us to achieve this, organisers need to work closely with artistes to identify the gaps missing,” Buzindu says.
Kizito Hategekimana, a former artiste, argues that there’s no doubt that awards are important to the music industry. Once they are well organised, awards are like the entire picture of the music industry, he says.
“Awards, in the first place, are a competition and yes, they do bring artistes together. This is why many successful music industries have evolved because of such awards.”
Hategekimana says with the presence of awards, artistes work hard to see their songs nominated which improves the quality of music.
“I really believe awards are a good thing to the music industry, but I also emphasise that they must be professional and well organised. When not, awards instead become a dangerous virus to the entire industry where you see corruption, injustice and misunderstanding between stakeholders,” he says.
Female rapper Grace Abayizera, known by her stage name Young Grace, also approves the relevance of these awards, citing their ability to motivate and encourage musicians to work hard and produce quality music.
She also notes that the cash prizes that at times come with the awards boost musicians in terms of expanding their careers.
The case with unjust nominations
Musician Thomas Muyombo aka Tom Close says that music awards are what make a well-functioning industry, arguing that it is only normal for musicians who have worked so hard to be recognised for their work.
However, the artiste says in most cases, this platform has been used by some people as a means of milking money out of the music industry.
“At times you find the value of the awards being next to zero, therefore, nominations in most categories and the awarding system are unfair to the point where they give no value to the artistes participating in the awards and minimise their status instead,” Muyombo says.
He is, hence, of the view that organisers should learn to appreciate the talent and work of the musicians they want to award, and put in place a fair nomination and awarding system that will not favour undeserving artistes and instead award real winners.
Sandra Kirenga, a huge supporter of Rwandan music, says the local industry has a long way to go and still has a lot to do in terms of promoting the music industry.
She agrees with Muyombo saying that what is killing the essence of music awards is the unfairness that comes with how these awards are organised sometimes.
“This is what discourages artistes from taking part and on the other hand, makes people lose trust and interest. But if they are to be done in a fair manner, I am sure we will see our music industry grow because these awards play a very important role in developing our music industry,” Kirenga says.
Abayizere on the other hand begs to differ, arguing that one can never know what really goes down during these awarding processes, and this is why she chooses to have faith in the system and only hopes for the best for the industry.
“It is impossible to make everyone happy because one can say awards are not fair because they were not the winners. This is why it is important to look on the bright side, work hard, do the right thing and see that our industry continues growing,” she says.
Knowless gives a speech during an award show. Net photos
What can be done to make this work?
Hip-hop artiste Prime Mazimpaka is of the view that Rwanda’s music awards are very inconsistent, something he says has a serious effect on the growth of the industry.
“I don’t know what really happens behind the scenes but our industry still lacks a lot. One thing I know is that these awards lift artistes; they push them to work even harder, organisers should hence put in more effort to make this work and see to it that we have as many awards as possible,” he says.
Mazimpaka calls unto all responsible parties to step up their game, let the whole process run fair and square by letting people decide.
“But most importantly, award ceremonies need to be consistent, if they are annual let them be annual,” he says.
R&B singer Bruce Itahiwacu alias Bruce Melodie wonders why award shows in Rwanda are inconsistent.
These award shows used to have an impact, winners held a strong reputation and served as an inspiration to other artistes, he says.
According to him, it is the conflict of interest between sponsors and organisers that has so far been the cause of failed award shows in Rwanda.
“I think sponsors should step up; organisers should explain to sponsors the relevance of all this, after all, if our music industry grows, we all benefit,” Itahiwacu says.
Emma Claudine Ntirenganya, the chairperson and the brains behind Salax Awards, says that at times, the challenges that come up during the organisation of music awards are associated with the musicians themselves.
She says they at times don’t attach enough value to these awards just because they don’t come with a lot of money. Ntirenganya faults this kind of behaviour, saying that any award is very important towards building the profile of any artiste.
The other issue she points out is where musicians turn awards into a competition, which eventually results into conflict that affects the entire industry.
“Funds are still a problem and this is why it is hard to be consistent when it comes to organising these awards. This is why I think it is important to have more sponsors on board. I believe with enough funding we can have many award shows organised in Rwanda,” she says.
Ntirenganya also calls to the Ministry of Sports and Culture to be supportive of modern music seeing that it is also part of modern-day culture.
“We should all support each other because when our music industry gains momentum we all benefit in one way or another.”
She also hopes that players in the industry dream and plan bigger, and, for instance, strategise to organise awards that can encompass the whole of East Africa for this will be one sure way of putting Rwanda’s music on the map.
Do music awards have an impact on the entertainment industry?
Awards add value to the industry itself, plus, they give a different kind of motivation to the artistes in the industry. The industry in Rwanda just needs to improve on the level of professionalism when organising the awards.
Yvan Buravan, Musician
Awards are helpful in a way that they promote competition, creativity and hard work because it makes people want to do better and also take a trophy home. I think we still have a long way to go with this in our music industry; we just need to be focused and work harder.
Nina Umuhoza, Artiste
Yes, music awards have a great impact on the music industry. Just like it is with any other business, without competition, less can be achieved. Awards create healthy competition among artistes, which leads to quality production in the industry. Besides, recognising the effort of our artistes is one way of respecting them.
Winnie Umuhoza, Businesswoman