By BASHIR ADIGUN
The Associated Press
Saturday, November 22, 2008; 5:44 PM
ABUJA, Nigeria -- Two Nigerian singers won top awards Saturday as MTV
held its first-ever music award program for Africa, with acts from
across the world's poorest continent being nominated for prizes.
Nigerian singer D'banj won the artist of the year award, while his
compatriot, Naeto C, took the laurels for the best new African act, it
was announced at the ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria's capital.
Winners were selected by fans sending text messages, said Alison Reid, a
spokeswoman for MTV Networks Africa.
Africa has long featured a vibrant music scene, but artists have had
difficulties breaking into overseas markets. Famous African artists
include Senegal's Youssou N'dour, Nigerian legend Fela Kuti and South
African impresario Miriam Makeba, who died this month.
MTV hopes the awards can offer the artists more exposure and celebrate
the continent's artistry.
Performers from South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Gabon and others also were
nominated. Songs by D'banj and Naeto C, both male, are all but
ubiquitous on the radio in Nigeria, Africa's most-populous nation of 140
African music is highly varied, reflecting myriad tastes in the vast
continent. Included across the many genres are call-and-response
chanting and heavy drumming, drawing on pre-colonial modes of
communication among villages.
Since independence movements swept the continent in the 1960s, African
music also has increasingly been open to outside influence,
incorporating salsa rhythms, rock beats and, increasingly, hip hop and
Many of the new Nigerian acts nominated Saturday feature heavy beats
pioneered by American rappers and hip-hop artists. The lyrics often
reflect the desire of many Nigerians to escape poverty and corrupt
MTV's regional music channel MTV Base now reaches almost 50 million
African viewers in 48 countries through a network of pay-per-view
services and partnerships with domestic channels.