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Highs and lows of Maso Awards

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UP AND COMING MALE ARTIST — Zonke in green suit receives his award

Awards are a necessity and they will always play a crucial role, especially in rewarding outstanding work and at the same time motivating players to do well in their different disciplines.

The creative sector has not been left out when it comes to these accolades and the country has witnessed artists being recognised for their outstanding work, with music taking centre stage.

When we talk about awards that have rewarded creativity in the country, then Malawi cannot skip MBC Entertainers of the Year that used to recognise outstanding stars in the different art disciplines including music and drama.

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Every year on December 31, the country used to wait with abated breath to hear the winners in different categories and it was all exciting to see sons and daughters of Malawi being rewarded with trophies and motivated to continue serving the best.

But today MBC Entertainers of the Year is no longer in the picture as the state broadcaster moved on to create what it calls Innovation Awards.

And over the years, other awards have been created to reward talent and they include Malawi Gin Music Trophy, Kuchekuche Music Trophy and Urban Music People (UMP).

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While the other awards only run for a short time, UMP which used to be known as Urban Music Party raced for years and built itself a reputation and won trust of the people such that every year the country used to look up to these awards. But UMP awards have also disappeared from the scene.

Exit UMP and enter Maso Awards which in 2022 run for the fourth time and at a bigger venue in Blantyre.

The awards saw artists being recognised in different categories, with musicians Driemo and Suffix among the big winners.

Having collected the up and coming male artist of the year last year during the same awards where people came to know him, Driemo underlined his strength once again when he collected the Male Artist of the Year, outclassing other nominees such as Eli Njuchi, Gwamba, Piksy and Onesimus.

“I never saw this coming but glory be to God for this award. I worked very hard and I will continue doing so,” the artist, who also claimed Music Video of the Year for the track ‘Mojo’, said.

Driemo also performed at the very end of the event and his manager Van Ngongo also bagged the Manager of the Year Award.

Suffix (in absentia) collected the Best Gospel Act and Best Gospel Song for ‘Mwandikondera’.

“This means more. I dedicate it to all my fans out there. I will keep working hard,” the Lilongwe-based artist said in a video.

Tuno, who also performed during the event, claimed the Female Artist of the Year beating other nominees Toriah, Temwa, Leslie and Keturah.

The other awards were Tay Grin ( Best Live Act), Njuchi (Best Album for Red Flag), Priscilla Kayira ( Media Personality of the Year), Viny Visuals ( Videographer of the Year), Fighters Dance Group ( Best Dance Group), Flap (Best Set Design), Joy Nathu ( DJ of the Year), Piksy ( Song of the Year for ‘Anana’), Phyzix and various artists for ‘Legends’ ( Best Collabo), Tik Tak ( Producer of the Year), S Gizy and BJ ( Best Duo), John Nthakomwa (Best Sound Engineer), Zonke (Best Male Up and Coming Artist), Kellie Divine ( Best Female Up and Coming Artist), Flora Suya (Best Actor), Spiral (Best Graphic Designer), The Last Fishing Boat (Best Film), Raphael Sitima (Best Poet) and Che Mandota (Best Comedian) and Roy View Designs (Best Fashion Designer).

Old-timer Giddes Chalamanda also received the Lifetime Achievement Award, which last year was given to Soldier Lucius Banda whereas Monsoor Karim of K Motors collected the Humanitarian Award.

“Much as the awards were voted for by people online, I think they could have done better in scruitinising every category. I feel they still needed to have judges to do the final work. Next time they also need to put up a proper team that should look critically in all the categories and the names nominated,” an artist, who patronised the awards but did not want to be named, said.

Some quarters also questioned the winning film – The Last Fishing Boat which they indicated was produced a long time ago and thus it was not supposed to be nominated this time.

“This film is good but I should be frank that it was produced long time ago and then it was competing with films released recently such as Fatsani and Highbrow. I think organisers need to seriously look at the period in this and it encompasses all categories,” Agness Paul, a theatre lover, said.

However, others felt The Last Fishing Boat came to the limelight following its clip of ‘Mustafa Sindinamfunse’ trending recently.

The awards have been running online the past two years before going physical at Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) in Blantyre in 2021.

The awards, driven by Augustine Mukisi, have shown growth firstly by moving from online to physical and then secondly from a small venue to a bigger venue in 2022.

Maso Awards have also shown tremendous progress in 2022 by expanding awards to 30 in 30 categories and also moving from focusing on music only and extending to other artistic disciplines such as visual arts, comedy, photography, film, poetry, graphic design, theatre and fashion design.

For a long time other artistic disciplines have not been recognised when it comes to awards and for Maso to consider decorating them is worth commending.

“This is good of course they still need to do more but for a start, I love the fact that they have created a platform for awards targeting almost all the artistic disciplines. They just have to do them better, prepare well and do lots of consultations otherwise working in isolation will not help them. Again, I feel they did not do themselves justice in adding more awards at the same time, they could have done the additions gradually,” Prince Chikweba, who is Eli Njuchi’s manager said.

The event was truly red carpet and people experienced it at a hotel that has offered its tremendous support to the creative sector.

The awards also attracted a huge audience that, apart from seeing different artists walk away with awards, also sampled performances.

But having 30 awards in 30 categories, the organisers failed to start on time and this led to the event going all the way to the early hours of the following day.

“This is a biggest challenge with many events in the country, they don’t keep time. They wait for people and this compromises on work at times. For instance, if they had started on time they would also have managed to do things perfectly,” one of the patrons Gray Tembo said.

And true to Tembo’s words, the delay in starting the event led to them cutting out some of the activities.

“Awards are supposed to be programmed and people are at times supposed to rehearse but it seems this was not part of the script. This is why we saw some people who were giving the awards announcing the winner without opening the envelopes and this diluted the surprise factor,” Tembo added.

There was no proper time assigned to performers as noticed by a performance from The Daredevils, who made a stage comeback after a long time.

There were also technical glitches in terms of sound and organisers would have done better.

Mukisi admitted they have a long way to go with the awards but was happy with the strides they have made so far.

“We are happy with the fact that we have managed to hold the awards for the fourth time and at a bigger venue. We know we can do better and going forward we will strive to do that,” he said.

During the event which focused on youth and arts, Mukisi called upon the government and the corporate world to support the creative sector saying they have potential to help in the development of the country.

“We have talent here but it is not rewarded. The creative sector is sidelined. Look at other countries like Nigeria, the creative sector is supported and its contribution to the economy is huge,” he said.

Despite the shortfalls, Maso Awards has shown it has what it takes to excel and all what is needed now is to perfect it.

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