Kisima Reward Kenya's Finest
For many years, Kenyan musicians have been referred to as ‘idlers’, ‘school drop outs’ and ‘wannabes’. Those who’ve swam through miles of ridicule, player hating and pull-them-downs in the past year and came out strong with fine music that silenced their critics were finally rewarded at the 2006 Kisima Music Awards, held Saturday 15th July at the Carnivore Gardens in Nairobi.
Established in 1996, gone under in 1998 and resurrected in 2003, the Kisima Music Awards seek, filter out and reward the finest musicians in Kenya, giving special note to equally great performers from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania.
The Kisima Music Awards organizers, led by Victor Mayeya, had fine details intricately woven to stage an event that is now firmly engraved in the minds of those who attended. From the wide-chested bouncers with biceps threatening to tear their black T-shirts, to the awards podium decorated like a tribal chief’s kraal, and the sound system tuned to acoustic perfection.
Kisima’s red carpet was trod upon by musicians exchanging the usual niceties, yet it was obvious deep down there was some sort of rivalry among those who’d received nominations in the same categories. Inside the Kisima Dome Tent, each table in the VIP section had the pleasure of hosting the who's who in Kenya's music industry: from the great David Amunga, a pioneer in indigenous Kenyan music, to the young but not to be undermined Jimw@t, all showing their support for the Kisima Music Awards and Kenyan music in general.
The main event started at 9.30pm, just as the event’s souvenir programmed had predicted. The event’s emcees, Pinky, Seanice, Marcus and Didge, shrugged off early hiccups in their coordination to finely steer the awards to a glorious conclusion. Backstage, musicians could be seen wiping sweat off their brows after they’d kept the event’s electricity at full wattage, with acts that sent the one thousand plus crowd off their seats and onto their feet cheering wildly. Being Kenya’s winter season, temperatures might have been at only 9 degrees outside the Kisima Dome, but inside, it was definitely high summer.
When the curtain came down at the end of the night, the brother duo of Longombas took home the most awards: Boomba Group, Social Responsibility, Best Group and Song of the Year for their hotly popular anti HIV/AIDS stigma song ‘Vuta Pumz’, which also scooped them a coveted Kora in 2005. They will make a guest appearance and performance at the Channel O Awards in South Africa later this year. Nameless followed closely with accolades in Afro Fusion, Best Male and the MTV Base sponsored Best Video for his ‘Nasinzia’ single, currently a hot favourite with many DJs and VJs. Amani, who launched her music career collaborating with Nameless in 1999, went home with three trophies for Boomba Female, Best Female and Best Collaboration for ‘Bad Boy’ which she performed with Nyashinski of the Kleptomaniax. Uganda’s Chameleon and Tanzania’s Langa were voted best in their respective countries.
The Kisima Music Awards ended at about 3am Sunday morning, with a guest performance by Juma Nature, Mheshimiwa Temba and Chege from Tanzania. They made the audience summon the little energy they had left to keep up with an energetic performance that left many gasping for breath in exhaustion.
The 2006 Kisima Music Awards had once again achieved their goal of recognizing and rewarding Kenya’s finest. The event’s organizers however know they need to start planning for next year’s now, after promising an even more colourful event.