For young innovative, industrious Nigerians working across politics, entertainment, fashion and business, the Future Africa Awards has become the annual thanksgiving event.
The 13th edition on Sunday was no different. If there is any competition among industry professionals, it was not evident. Everyone who turned out, whether nominated for an award or not, had the spark of joy. Adherence to the dress code – “glam with a touch of culture” – was exuberant and gorgeous.
There were rousing performances by artistes, Timi Dakolo’s alternative national anthem and Teni the Entertainer causing goosebumps and joyous gyration respectively. Before them, Caleb Adebayo opened the evening with a gripping piece of poetry. Three presidential candidates (guess who?) had brief opportunities to speak/pitch to the audience. For the top 5 moments of the night, we might as well begin with what the latter group did.
Preview of Presidential Debate
The Future Project, organizer’s of the awards, is particular about promoting civic engagement. In keeping with previous editions, a host of politicians occupied the front row: Rotimi Amaechi accompanied by his anointed, Tonye Cole, Senator Adeleke Mamorah, Jimi Agbaje, and Minister of Trade Okey Enelamah. Cue awkward hugs and half-hearted handshakes.
Kingsley Moghalu, Obiageli Ezekwesili and Fela Durotoye were also there. They must have been invited before their running mates’ sub-par outings on live TV . In the order above, each had few minutes to (indirectly) provide subtle reminders that they were the key names on their parties’ tickets.
We will see them together again soon, on stage at the same time. The keywords in their remarks felt like teasers, even if, bar Durotoye, they sounded somewhat subdued.
Kenny Blaq Channels Buhari
One name resonates with fans who love to digest their comedy with music. Kenny Blaq’s 2017 Future Awards routine, with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in attendance, was a Tope-Alabi-themed cover on Big Shaq’s ‘Mans Not Hot’.
On Sunday, his roast of President Buhari – who turns 76 today – was just as witty, inventive but exceptionally daring. With the president’s accent as weapon, Kenny devised a campaign jingle that the Buhari Media Centre, on a mission to re-connect Buhari to young audiences, can do no wrong creating a message around.
Nigerian artistes often tip-toe on political figures; Kenny Blaq, leveraging his firm grip on music-comedy, puts himself in good stead to be a lead host of late night talk shows.
Instagram Is Not All of Nigeria
Do I understand every word of Kenny Blaq’s comedy? A lot is in Yoruba and I’ve barely had two Christmas holidays here. I know how I make up for the gaps in understanding, but language is one of possible reasons why not everyone will find Kenny Blaq funny.
Was it a surprise, then, that the successor to Kenny in the comedy category was Mark Angel? For perspective, other nominees were Lasisi Elenu, Maraji, Broda Shaggi and Omo Ibadan. Yours sincerely was confident (also means “had a bias”) for either of the first two of these four. After all, they regularly get the most views on Instagram and are charging dream six-figures to create content for and promote brands.
Mark Angel won and, by his and Emmanuella’s frankly insane numbers on YouTube subscriptions and views, deservedly so.
Focus on a section of social media and hurriedly conclude the best things are happening there, at your peril. This is a message that applies to everything, politics especially.
A Shining Light In Taraba
The night’s biggest prize, Young Person of the Year, went to Samson Itodo. He led the efforts that created the historic constitutional amendments popularly known as ‘Not Too Young To Run’.
But the under-dog impression from the night, making the case for relevance in one’s state of origin, was from Daniel Philemon Saradau, winner of the prize in Public Service.
“Daniel first became an academic superstar when he was awarded the Best Overall Matriculations Examinations Score in Nigeria in 2005” according to his profile in the event brochure. In the thirteen years following that stunning feat, he has graduated “best in class” at University of Abuja, University of Ibadan, and “returned to Taraba State University to help found the University’s Faculty of Law”.
That is greatness, for someone from a state with a population one-tenth of Lagos, and low development indices. The legal profession in Taraba will be better because of Daniel; that impact is as good as anything a citizen can achieve professionally or patriotically.
Nowadays, he is ‘The Style Infidel’ but memories of an Ibadan boy arriving Lagos with a dream must have burst Tosin Ogundadegbe’s tear glands as he walked to the stage, in disbelief that he had won the prize for fashion. Award presenters Mercy Johnson and foremost designer Deola Sagoe gave him space and he used it; he cried like a grateful man could.
Hard work, consistency, validation; let there be more tears like Tosin’s.
Find a full list of the winners here
Opinions: Part formed, Part undergoing reform