What next for showbiz awards?

Yvan Buravan led the nomination pack at this year’s Salax Awards with three nominations. / File

For some years now, the quality of local showbiz awards has been on the decline –whether it is in terms of organisation, or prizes given to the winners. No glamour, no hype, nothing worth writing home about. So what could have gone wrong?

Following revelations that winners of revamped SALAX Awards and Groove Awards 2018 winners are yet to get their prize money or accolades, the verdict is an implicating one on the side of award organisers, who are now facing accusations of taking the winners ‘for a ride’ and failing to honour their promise.

It has emerged that winners of gospel music awards Groove Rwanda Awards 2018, including artiste of the year Aline Gahongayire, choirs Ambassadors of Christ, Alarm Ministries and Trinity Worship Centre, among others, never got their accolades.

Dr Fidele Masengo of Foursquare Gospel Church and his wife (left) give an award to Goshen Choir members at last year’s Groove Awards. / File

Organisers are said to have got a few accolades, which the winning artistes posed for photos with upon being announced before handing them back to the organisers behind the scenes for the next winners.

“We were told that the awards are still being worked on in Kenya but it is more than six months now and we are still waiting. It doesn’t make sense because our names were announced as winners but we have nothing to show for it,” an artiste who spoke to The New Times on condition of anonymity said.

The organiser of the Rwandan version of Groove Awards, which started in Kenya, Evans Mwenda, said recently that the awards were sent to Kenya to be written on but they took so long to come back, promising that they should be in the country by the end of June.

He said, the winners have been given information, but admits that they have delayed longer than expected.

“We admit the awards delayed but they are being worked on as we speak. They will be here soon,” Mwenda told local media.

But for some observers, the delay and failure to honour promises goes to show how the state of showbiz awards in Rwanda is a worrying one, with many blaming organisers for failing to do their work ahead of time and taking the participants for granted.

Radio personality and singer MC Tino, who was among the nominees of Salax Awards 2019, blames organisers of showbiz awards for failing to do their homework, even when they have sponsors.

“It is a total mess. You know you are going to give awards, you make announcements, you get sponsors but you do everything last minute. Everything is embarrassing most times. Award organisers need to get serious and stop taking people for granted,” said MC Tino.

“Awards in Rwanda will never be successful if organisers don’t do their work. Otherwise most of us will be shunning these awards if organisers don’t get their house in order. How do you tell me that you reach the point of awarding when the prizes are not ready?” he added.

The former TBB member said apart from the awards and prizes, there are challenges with voting systems which are openly rigged or poorly conducted. He said sometimes winners are known ahead of time due to the corruption in the industry.

“You tell people you will be given Rwf1m but you present a cheque of Rwf700, 000. Where did the Rwf300, 000 go? If you say taxes, why don’t you do your calculations before and deduct? Look at the events themselves, very embarrassing scenes. The sound person refuses to switch on sound because they haven’t been paid. What is that? We need to get serious,” he adds.

Aline Gahongayire won Female Artiste of the Year at the 2018 Groove Awards. / File

For someone who has been in the entertainment industry for long, MC Tino believes that sometimes it is a case of disrespect for artistes, as is the case with Groove Awards, which he says the excuse that ‘the awards come from Kenya’ is one that is disrespectful for the winning nominees.

“If you set the date for the awards and go ahead to award people, it means you are ready to give what you promised the winners but it is not the case in our showbiz industry. Either the organisers pocket what is meant for winners or simply don’t have the resources due to lack of sponsorship,” argues Arlette Majyambere, a showbiz observer.

Veejay Nano, who also juggles his music work with organising shows, partly blames lack of sponsorship on one part and poor organisation.

“Were there sponsors for these events? If so did they honour their promises? If not then the organisers are to be blamed because you can’t plan an event without knowing its budget,” he says, but adds that mostly event organisers struggle to get sponsorship.

For Salax Awards, Tino says that next time, organisers should get their act together or more artistes will pull out. Salax Awards returned this year after a three-year hiatus and ownership controversy.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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