Samas accused of tribalism

Emmanuel Tjiya S Mag Editor-in-chief
Master KG is not in the mix.
Master KG is not in the mix.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The South African Music Awards (Samas) has broken its silence following public outcry over lack of gender and cultural diversity.

This comes after Makhadzi's Matorokisi, Master KG's Jerusalema and Sho Madjozi's John Cena were absent when nominations for the public-voted Record of the Year (ROTY) and Music Video of the Year (MVOTY) were revealed last week.

Many critics said these artists were snubbed because they are from Limpopo.

Yesterday, Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) CEO Nhlanhla Sibisi gave his explanation for eligibility.

"Let me explain that the period for SAMA26 ROTY extends from March 1 2019 to February 29 2020," Sibisi said.

"The songs that enjoyed higher rotation on radio stations during this time stand to be shortlisted for the top 20.

"Radio is still the most reliable barometer to gauge music consumption patterns because it is scientific and measurable."

But Lionel Jamela, co-owner of independent record label Open Mic Productions that represents Makhadzi and Master KG, told Sowetan that numbers don't lie.

Jamela said Master KG's Jerusalema music video released last December is one the most watched on YouTube, having reached over 37 million viewers.

He said Master KG suffered the same fate last year when his smash hit Skeleton Move was overlooked.

"This year it showed me that people that are running the Samas don't love South African music to the fullest.

Makhadzi's Matorokisi missed out on a nomination
Makhadzi's Matorokisi missed out on a nomination
Image: Veli Nhlapo

"I mean, how come the biggest video in the country such as Jerusalema is not a nominee? All the people nominated don't match the Jerusalema YouTube numbers.

"It shows that whoever is running the Samas has their own agenda and they don't want to recognise good talent from Limpopo."

Tsonga disco pioneer Penny Penny accused the awards of tribalism. He said it's for that reason that he has never been recognised in the 26 years of the awards.

"I was one of the best artists in the '90s and I never received any Samas. I was a bestseller, most-popular and best male of that generation. But because of the Tsonga language and the side that I come from, I never received anything from the Samas," Penny Penny said. "There is tribalism and they are just using people."

Limpopo Artists Awards (LAM) chairperson Mphoza Mashabela said the Samas also have a history of snubbing ZCC gospel music.

Sibisi said following recent criticism "issues of inclusion, transparency and gender parity can no longer be overlooked".

Only three female musicians (DJ Zinhle, Lady Zamar and Holly Rey) are nodded as main acts for ROTY while the other 17 nominees are all male.

Last year Rey, with Deeper, made history as the first woman in 20 years to scoop the highly sought-after honour after Brenda Fassie with Vulindlela in 1999.

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