Kisima awards on stage after seven years

After a seven-year silence, Kisima Awards bounced back, this time with a continental outlook and more offerings. This week, the outfit unveiled the Pan African Music and Film Awards, which aim to honor artists and filmmakers across Africa.

It’s an ambitious move that will be closely watched by players on the continent’s entertainment scene. The stage is for the inaugural gala to be held on Sunday 13 December at Nairobi’s Carnivore Grounds.

The organizers say that the pursuit of a soaked awards landscape is to create a convergence zone of music and film to harness the vibrant arts, culture and musical talent in Africa.

Music and film synchronization is a new frontier in Africa, and Pan Africa Music and Film Awards hope it can give a head start to the new awards. For the past six months, organizers have been working on developing online portals for public nominations for the candidates. The operations culminated in last Tuesday’s announcement of the start of nominations, which will last until November 27, when the candidates will be announced.

Fred Simiyu, the chairman of the advertising agency IQ Marketing, which acquired the franchise, is the program leader and works with a strong team of brand strategists, IT and financial experts and event organizers.

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Pan Africa Kisima Music and Film Awards collaborates with the Nation Media Group for visibility and music in Africa (communication).

The music editor and journalist Lucy Ilado will be the chief judge, with the task of leading the selection process of the nominees and eventual winners of the awards.

Filmmaker Cathy Gitahi, who consults for the program, says 18 categories (each nine in music and film) will be recognized. These include the best Afrikaans artist of the year, album of the year, Africa’s best film and best director.

The host country will have additional entries, in addition to the main categories where local artists will compete for different awards.

The organizers say that the annual event is hosted on a rotating basis by various cities in Africa, and so far several embassies and missions have expressed an interest in hosting next year’s event.

Kisima Awards, founded in 1994 by Pete Odera and Tedd Josiah, sought to recognize musical talent in Kenya. The program lasts until 1997 before it is folded. The awards were returned in 2003, with more government and corporate sponsorship and entry into local artists.

The awards have been marred by controversy with claims of conflict of interest, skewed nominations and voting processes and improper advantage of Kenyan artists over other regional acts.

There are already several continental music awards such as the All Africa Music Awards and MTV Africa Music Awards, which celebrate music of African origin and popular contemporary music, respectively.

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