Awards season is in full swing in Zimbabwe. Sandwiched between the recent National Arts Merit Awards (NAMAs) on 13 February and the upcoming Zim-Dancehall Awards on 3 March, the annual Zimbabwe Music Awards (ZIMA) took place at the Harare International Convention Centre (HICC) on Thursday 25 February.
As was widely anticipated, Jah Prayzah was the biggest winner of the night, scooping four trophies: Album of the Year, Best Traditional Music (both for Jerusarema), Best Male Artiste and Best Collaboration (with Ammara Brown). Swopping his trademark military outfit for a stylish black suit, the high-flying Jah Prayzah, who in September 2015 became the first Zimbabwean artist to tour China, confessed modestly: “Just being nominated, not winning, is more than enough - that recognition is encouraging.”
Ammara Brown, who shared the Best Collaboration trophy with Jah Prayzah and also put on a memorable live performance of ‘Mukuko’ with Tytan, announced on Facebook: “What an unforgettable night! Thank you all for your fierce support! Of course to my incredible co-stars Tytan and Jah Prayzah, bless you both for walking this journey with me! Special thanks to my team behind the scenes!”
Winky D, who shared top honours with Jah Prayzah at the recent NAMAs, won Song of the Year for ‘Disappear’. His rival Killer T, snubbed at the NAMAs but the frontrunner for the upcoming Zim-Dancehall awards this week, won Best Dancehall Music for Ngoma Ndaimba.
Gospel artist Janet Manyowa was named Best Female Artiste and Best Newcomer for her hit album King of Glory, while Cynthia Mare won Best Alternative Music for Moto Ngaubvire. “Thanks to everyone who has supported me,” Mare later announced on Facebook. “Let's keep this fire burning!”
Roki and ExQ were named Best Duo or Group, largely due to the success of their hit ‘Alleluya’, which also earned the Best Video prize for director Andy Cutter.
Other winners on the night included Sulumani Chimbetu (Best Sungura), Mathias Mhere (Best Traditional Gospel Music) and Buffalo Souljah (International Achiever). A Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded posthumously to the late Jamaican legend Bob Marley, who famously performed live at Zimbabwe’s independence celebrations in April 1980. Local reggae veteran Trevor Hall (aka Ras Jabulani) performed some of Marley’s hits.
Though the ZIMAs offer a chance for Zimbabwe’s music industry to celebrate the past year’s successes, the awards were not immune to criticism. Soon after Winky D collected his trophy, local media reported a “mass exodus” from the auditorium by both artists and fans - not in protest but because they were not interested in seeing the remaining winners. As a result, visiting Ghanaian reggae musician Blakk Rasta had to be content with playing to a room of empty seats.
ZIMA Chairman Joseph Nyadzayo also presented Zimbabwe’s long-time ruler Robert Mugabe with a bugle as a token of appreciation. It was accepted by Sports Minister Makhosini Hlongwane. “Some of you may not know that the President was once upon a time a musician. He played in a band and I looked for the instrument which he used to play,” said Nyadzayo, a close friend of the president for over 20 years.
The full list of ZIMA winners is as follows:
- Best Acapella: Nkwali – Nkwali
- Best Alternative Music: Cynthia Mare – Moto Ngaubvire
- Best Choral Music: Sebastian Magacha, African Joy – The Battle Against Evil
- Best Collaboration: Ammara Brown and Jah Prayzah
- Best Contemporary Gospel Music: Takesure Zama – Kuregerera in Advance
- Song of the Year: Winky D – ‘Disappear’
- Best Dancehall Music: Killer T – Ngoma Ndaimba
- Best Hip-Hop: Cal Vin – Bebengakholwa
- Best House Music: Skaiva – Its Love
- Best Producer: Oskid – Kenako Volume 1
- Best RnB/Soul/Afro Pop: Trevor Dongo – Two Steps to go
- Best Single: Shingi Mangoma ft. Reverb7 – ‘Handikusiye’
- Best Sungura: Sulumani Chimbetu – Gunship
- Best Traditional Gospel Music: Mathias Mhere – Glory to Glory
- Best Traditional Music: Jah Prayzah – Jerusarema
- Best Video: Andy Cutter – ‘Alleluya’ (Roki and ExQ)
- Album of the Year: Jah Prayzah – Jerusarema
- Best Duo and Group: Roki and ExQ
- Best Male Artiste: Jah Prayzah
- Best Female Artiste: Janet Manyowa – King of Glory
- Best Newcomer: Janet Manyowa – King of Glory
- Best Print Journalist: Winston Antonio – NewsDay
- Best Online Journalist: Two Broke Twimbos
- International Achiever: Buffalo Souljah
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Bob Marley