Buffalo Souljah and Pah Chihera were nominated in the Dancehall Act of the Year and Best Female Southern Africa categories, respectively.
The names of the nominees were made public on Wednesday 20 July via the Awards website. The AFRIMMA awards is considered on of the biggest event in the diaspora and this year hosts its third edition, following the success of previous editions in 2014 and 2015.
Zimbabwe's Buffalo Souljah (real name Thabani Ndlovu) will be competing against Nigerian artists Timaya, Burna Boy and Patoranking; and Ghanaians Stonebwoy, Samini and Shatta Wale. Like Zimbabwe, Uganda is represented by one artist: MC Norman Ganja.
Buffalo Souljah is of course not a new name in Zimbabwean music circles, after making a name for himself with albums such as The Chosen Ones and Indlovu Yangena. Born to the late Zimbabwean saxophonist Unity Ndlovu (who played alongside Thomas Mapfumo in the 70s and early 80s), the artist has won a number of accolades, including Channel O Africa Music Video Awards for Most Gifted Dancehall (three times) and Best Dancehall Video (2008), as well as the Best Artist Diaspora category at the Zim Dancehall Awards in 2014. At last year's AFRIMMAs Buffalo Souljah was nominated in the same category and lost to Ghana’s Stonebwoy.
Pah Chihera (real name Pamhidzai Mbirimi) has meanwhile been nominated in the Best Female Southern Africa category, where she is up against South African artists Zonke, Lira and Busiswa, Zambia’s Ice Queen Cleo, Lizha James from Mozambique, Namibia’s Chikune and Nnunu Ramo Gotsy from Botswana.
Pah Chihera became popular three years ago through a song called ‘Runonzi Rudo’, which featured Prince Musarurwa. This was followed by ‘Musavadadire Varume’, a song that landed her a nomination at the 2016 Kora All Africa Music Awards (which have still not taken place). Now an established star, Chihera has also performed in Dubai.
This is of course not the first year that Zimbabwean artists have enjoyed some attention at the American awards. Back in 2014, Zimbabwean artist Cindy Munyavi won the Best Female Southern Africa category, although no Zimbabwean artist featured last year, when it was won by Ice Queen Cleo. In 2015, top Zimbabwean rapper Stunner was nominated in the Best Male Southern Africa category at the AFRIMMAs, alongside AKA, Cassper, Slap Dee, The Dogg, Donald and Vee.
For the full list of the 2016 AFRIMMA nominees, see here.