Are Salax awards jinxed?

Yvan Buravan (L) was one of the winners of the just-concluded salax awards. Courtesy.

Salax awards were last held three years ago following their collapse in 2016. The awards, that were once mighty in the local showbiz industry, sank into oblivion succumbing to poor organisation, unfairness, lack of sponsorship among other factors.

However, when they made a return this year the public’s expectations were of a bigger and better awards affair. This wasn’t the case unfortunately.

Just like with preceding editions, artistes pulled out of the race even before the competition began, revellers on the other hand complained about the dishonest nominations, and to make matters worse,  the audience had to wait a whooping four hours for the event to start. The event that was supposed to kick off at 6pm, started at 10:30pm instead.

Going by how these recently concluded awards made their grand-rather- bland comeback, little should be anticipated. 

But what could be going wrong?

David Ngabo, a music enthusiast, says these awards mostly need proper planning for them to be successful. What has been killing these awards for all these years is lack of proper planning, he says.

“It’s like the organisers haven’t mastered the art in this area because you cannot be repeating then, same thing and making similar mistakes again and again,” Ngabo says.

Another problem he says is that organisers for the awards could be prioritizing money which he says is a big mistake especially when one is just starting out.

He on the other hand notes that transparency should be a priority because if not, artistes will never trust them enough to be part of these awards, and without artistes, music awards don’t carry meaning,” he says.

Renowned local music manager Alex Muyoboke says he has been observing these awards right from their inception and notes that one of the biggest challenges they have faced is lack of sponsorship, something he says has created a huge gap in the management of these awards.

Muyoboke says it’s a shame that Rwanda is the only country in the region, if not continent, that lacks a steady awards’ platform noting that this too has an effect on the music industry.

“If our artistes are scooping awards outside the country, why don’t we organize our own platform, or even more than one, just like how other countries do?” he wonders.

Having attempted to organise awards himself, Muyoboke stresses the relevance of steady sponsorship if such events are to be consistently successful. 

He says, the fact that organisers brought these awards back while the industry hasn’t had any other awards is something worth appreciating and suggests organizers be given a second chance.

“It was really a big blow for the local music industry that there were no awards platform, something that plays a big role in motivating local artistes and boosting competition among them,” he says.

We should keep in mind that this is the organisers’ first experience in the awards but let’s hope they will rectify the mistakes done in future editions to make the event a more colourful one or even better than the previous editions,” Muyoboke adds.

It goes beyond organisation

It is the blatant unfairness that is eating up the success of these awards, according to Sylvie Mukaneza.

“It doesn’t require too much scrutiny to notice the unfairness in how these awards are organised. This is why most people lost interest, even the musicians,” she says.

Mukaneza is hence of the view that if organisers want to clear the award’s reputation, they should make transparency a priority, for this is the only way these awards will serve their intended purpose.

Local musician Martin Kasirye, aka MC Tino notes that little has been said about whether there has been lack of transparency in the recently concluded awards, however this doesn’t mean that people didn’t notice the unfairness.

“The fact that some decided to keep calm is not an indication that the awards were fairly handled. I know many whom I heard complain saying that they won’t come back to take part in the awards, though they can’t say it publicly,” he says.

“If the awards were given fairly, then who in my category had released an album? If they want to recognize artistes fairly, then they have to consider our work throughout the year. I am going to work hard and I will make sure my work is recognised and that I deserve an award,” Kasirye vows.

What then should be the way forward?

Radio personality Jules Irasubiza, says organizers should look back and do self-evaluation about how successful they can plan these awards.

“I totally support their initiative to bring the awards back. However, we want to see them improving from time management and advertising. For instance, time killed a lot of things as artistes missed the red carpet moment with their fans yet it is this that makes the awards more colourful,” he says.

He blamed the messy management which he says ruined the entire event.

“Artistes got mixed up with revellers in the seating arrangement, this is because organizers lacked proper protocol, which I think is absurd,” a remorseful Irasubiza observed.

He hence notes that going forward; paying attention to these details is the only way to resuscitate these awards.

Ahmed Pacifique, the CEO of AHUPA, the company that organises Salax Awards apologises to the public for the errors in management but remains humbly touched by the patience displayed by the people during the awarding event.

He reveals that the root cause of the delayed and mixed up organisation was as a result of unresolved financial issues.

“The owner of the sound system was demanding payments worth Rwf1, 000, 000 and was only accepting cash before the event started. This required organisers to device means, we had to lend from friends,” he explains.

Pacifique admits that such challenges are hard to escape even though he has been in the music industry for the past 15 years.

“Challenges are inevitable, especially when you are organizing awards of such high calibre for the first time. We apologize to the public and anyone who was affected by the delay of the awards.”

He hence vowed that together with his team, they are going to work on all the observed challenges encountered during the first edition and that he is welcoming suggestions that would help improve the awards.

 “We are confident that the awards can only get better as we are looking for ways to improve them for the following edition because our main objective is to play our part in the development of our music industry,” he says.

Pacifique promises to hold talks with artistes and their management so that they can join the awards in the coming editions and he is positive that they will reach a positive agreement.

“This also goes with the plan to revise categories. The number of categories will increase; we will have categories that will cover producers, diaspora artistes, song (audio and video) of the year among others.”



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