MTV Base, the home base of African youth culture

African youth and pop culture was re-imagined 15 years ago.

With Nigerian-born Alex Okosi at the helm, MTV Base launched in February 2005 to become Africa's new merchant of youth development and coolness.

It was an historic moment for Africa as this marked the American cable platform's 100th TV channel internationally - the first on the continent.

Female empowerment immediately took charge as Nigerian superstar 2Face's smash hit African Queen became the first music video to be played on the newly launched channel.

In 2006, every young person was dying to be featured on the channel and so the channel travelled across SA in search of the next big video jockey with the MTV Base VJ Search competition.

Way before his controversial Twitter commentary, Sizwe Dhlomo became the first winner of the competition.

Over the years the search has gone on to introduce Mzansi to some of the biggest players in showbiz today including Fikile "Fix" Moeti, Nomuzi Mabena, Sandile Ntshingila and Tshego Koke.

"It changed everything. I was able to live my dream and grow in my craft," says Koke, who grew up looking up to Dhlomo.

"It also gave my other aspirations life and it allowed me to get into the music, modelling and fashion spaces too."

Moeti went on to have a successful radio career, while Mabena is now one of the country's leading female rappers.

Did you know before Nomzamo Mbatha hit it big with her Hollywood breakthrough she was a finalist on the reality TV show in 2012 - the year Mabena won?

In 2008, the channel reached another milestone with the launch of the MTV Africa Music Awards (Mamas) - a celebration of contemporary African music.

The first three years the awards took place in Abuja and Lagos, in Nigeria, as well as Nairobi, Kenya.

After a three-year hiatus South Africa hosted the awards in Durban in 2014 and 2015.

The last time the awards took place was in 2015 at the Ticketpro Dome, Johannesburg. It was the most dramatic year as comedian Trevor Noah fell ill a few days before the awards and dropped out as host. This resulted in an all-female trio of Bonang Matheba, Mbatha and Nigerian songbird Yemi Alade taking over at the 11th hour.

Over the years the awards went big, often seen as the party of the year by featuring big international acts such as Wyclef Jean, Eve, Marlon Wayans, Anthony Anderson, Future, Khloe Kardashian and French Montana.

The channel has always created debate, especially with the MTV Base Hottest MCs. Every December since 2014 a panel of industry players gather to decide who is the hottest in local hip-hop. The debate on whether AKA, Cassper Nyovest, Emtee, Nasty C or K.O was the top for that year has always created polarising views.

"What's next for MTV Base is that they have got a responsibility of understanding that they are the ones that lead and narrate culture moving forward," Koke said. "They are the leaders of tomorrow and how they push their own ideology will determine if the masses engage wit it or not.

"They should never be afraid to break boundaries or give themselves to this art," he added.

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