House producer Black Coffee became the first South African artist to win the category 'Best International Act: Africa' at the annual BET Awards in the USA, which took place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday 26 June.
The award is the latest international accolade for the South African artist in the past two years, who is set to play gigs in Spain, Switzerland and the USA in July and August as his latest world tour reaches a conclusion.
Nigerian newcomer Falz, who recently wrapped up his own tour of the UK, meanwhile took home the Viewers' Choice: Best New Act award after fans from around the world cast their votes online. On the back of the success of his album Stories That Touch, Falz beat South Africa’s Emtee, as well as French rapper MHD, who is of Senegalese and Guinean descent; Australian Tkay Maidza, who was born in Zimbabwe; and the UK’s Section Boyz and WSTRN.
Further proof of Africa's growing status in the global music arena, the Best International Act: UK category was won by British-Nigerian artist Skepta, whose real name is Joseph Junior Adenuga.
The star-studded ceremony also saw the presentation of the Global Good Award to Senegelese-American artist Akon, one of music's most influential humanitarians at the moment, particularly for his work in solar electrification.
This year's event was hosted by American actress and model Eva Marcille and Nigerian-American recording artist Jidenna.
Black Coffee beat his fellow nominees in the form of his South African compatriots AKA and Cassper Nyovest, Nigeria’s Wizkid (winner of the award in 2012) and Yemi Alade, Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz, MzVee from Ghana and Ivory Coast’s Serge Beynaud, the only Francophone nominee.
When Black Coffee’s name was announced as the winner, he was greeted with a standing ovation from Nyovest, who later praised his win as ‘inspiring’ and ‘well deserved’. However, news quickly emerged of AKA ‘throwing shade’ on his rival by refusing to be photographed on stage with the other nominees. According to an article in Times Live, organisers were overheard questioning why AKA didn't want to go on stage. After the event, when the other nominees headed to press interviews, AKA apparently left immediately for his hotel with celebrity girlfriend Bonang Matheba.
"As long as a South African artist wins this award. That's fine by me,” AKA tweeted begrudgingly, admitting later: “Look, Black Coffee and me don't really dig each other, but I respect him and his art. I acknowledge him for the pioneer he is.” AKA also later posted a photo of himself with Black Coffee, Akon and Falz, probably to appease angry fans after a twitter backlash.
While AKA may well have been green with envy, upon receiving the award Black Coffee (himself clad in an emerald green suit) was his humble self, saying it was "For every kid in Africa that thinks they cannot stand here. In the words of Lupita Nyong'o, every dream is valid.”
He later told the media of his victory: “It has been amazing, I didn’t expect all of this... winning big things, no speech. I was like really shocked and surprised at the same time. It is really been a good weekend!”
Alex Okosi of Viacom, the operator of BET in Africa, commented shortly after the ceremony: “There will be celebrations in South Africa and Nigeria tonight after this landmark win for African music talent. For two such outstanding and exciting artists to have their talent showcased to the world at a prestigious ceremony like the BET Awards is incredibly gratifying and humbling, and exceeds even our wildest dreams!”
Tune into the BET Awards on BET (DStv channel 129) on Tuesday 28 June at 7pm CAT.