Originally published in
June 2014
Dazed touched down in Durban, South Africa for the biggest music show on the continent. Here's what went down.
Dazed always has a blast at the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs). First launched in 2008 as a global celebration of artists from across the continent, the MAMAs last touched down in Lagos, Nigeria in 2010 but this year Durban, South Africa was the destination for the biggest, most badass MAMAs yet. Around half a billion viewers tuned in watch the live show on 7 June, which saw the who’s who of the African urban music scene sing and mingle with US stars Miguel, Trey Songz and French Montana. Big winners included Nigeria’s Davido, Ghana’s Sarkodie and South Africa’s Mafikozolo.
The MAMAs is about collaborations and bringing artists together
Photography: Chris Saunders

"The MAMAs is about collaborations and bringing artists together,” said Alex Okosi, senior vice president of Viacom. “It’s a true testament to the passion, commitment and creativity of contemporary music, youth culture and achievement in Africa.” It’s also an excuse to party hard. But what happens in Durban does not stay in Durban, so here’s some things we found out at the 2014 MAMAs.

How to do the skelewu

African pop stars are the best at creating dance crazes to accompany their songs. Right now Skelewu rules. Naijapop wunderkind Davido released the song last year alongside a dance competition. Since then it has been supported by Emmanuel Adebayor and Samuel Eto'o, remixed by Major Lazer and reduced clubs everywhere to sweaty masses of gyrating limbs. Tanzanian bongo flavour artist Diamond Platnumz joined Davido at the MAMAs to teach us how it’s done: 1. Move your palms like you’re turning the wheel of a car. Look up the sky. 3. Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce.

Host Marlon Wayans didn't do his homework

MAMAs host Marlon Wayans made a marvellous entrance to the stage on a rickshaw but it was downhill from there as he mispronounced a number of African artists’ names as well as the province of South Africa he was standing in, KwaZulu-Natal. The broadcast was interspersed with pre-recorded skits of Wayans playing the role of an ignorant American asking nominees questions like “How many lions do you own?” When the jokes fell flat, he resorted to blaming “The white man on my lips.” The local press wondered why South African funny man Trevor Noah, who in recent months has slam-dunked every TV show from David Letterman to QI, didn’t get the gig.

Mafikizolo are the comeback kids

Big news was the return to form of Mafikizolo, who won Best Group and Song of the Year. The kwaito house group formed in 1997 and were originally a trio - Nhlanhla, Theo and Tebogo. They survived a car crash in 2001 only for Tebogo to be shot dead in a road rage incident in 2004. The duo soldiered on but took a break in 2008. Last year they came back strong with the hit song "Khona" featuring Uhuru and have just collaborated with Davido on "Tchelete (Good Life)", too.

Don jazzy is a god

When the queen of naijapop Tiwa Savage walked past super producer Don Jazzy in the lobby of the artists’ hotel, she fell to the floor at his feet. “That’s what you do when you see him. You get on your hands and knees and prey,” she told Dazed. Jazzy has been integral to the Nigerian music industry for over a decade. He launched D’Banj’s career as CEO of Mo’Hits Records and now fronts Mavin Records where he fosters the likes of D’Prince and dentist-turned-pop star Dr Sid. He joined Sid and Savage for a performance of Surulere, during which MAMA dollar bills miraculously floated down from the heavens onto the audience below.

Trey Songz might be a sex addict

Trey Songz played up to his ladies man image in Durban. At the press conference the crooner addressed female journalists as "boo" and "pretty" while summing up the secret to his considerable success. “My music all about love, sex and relationships. It alludes to fantasy. I give you what you want,” he mused. “My new album Trigga will take my fans through the emotional valleys and peaks of my party and sex life.” At the show he elicited screams for flashing his pecs and then retired to the afterparty, where groupies vied for VIP entry. “Shit goin’ buck in Durban!!!!!” he tweeted from the club. Bottoms up.

Dressing like a cowboy is ace

Trevor Stuurman of street style blog Stuurman Style Diary was on patrol at the MAMAs while cutting a dash wearing local designers from head to toe. Stetson by Simon & Mary, blanket coat by Maxhosa and bag by Urban Mosadi, his look had the air of the urban cowboy, in a good way. “South African streetwear is fearless and timeless,” he said. “It draws on historical references and the uniforms of different style and ethnic tribes to take our culture forward.” Alongside the likes of I See A Different You and The Expressionist, SA street stylers are making waves.

Sauti Sol are all grown up

Kenyan boy band Sauti Sol used to be sweetness and light. The popular acapella foursome made their debut in 2008 with ballads about unrequited love and how nice the Nairobi sunshine was. Fast forward to 2014 and it’s clear these church boys have been hitting the gym. A month before the MAMAs they released a video to the song "Nishike" (meaning "touch me" in Swahili), showing them flex their muscles while they caress various fine females. They opened the MAMAs wearing impeccable suits and looking swag. Obviously.

Khloe Kardashian rolls deep

French Montana’s plus one at the MAMAs was Khloé Kardashian. Wherever the new couple went, the reality TV star was flanked by three mountainous bodyguards and stole the limelight her boo completely. Are they the new KimYe? Is it love? Why does anyone give a fuck?

Ladysmith Black Mambazo are the biggest band in Africa

It wasn’t all about bling at the MAMAs. Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the male choral choir who formed in the 1960s and found fame on Paul Simon’s 1987 album Gracelands, are still firm favourites. Their zulu harmonies have won them multiple Grammys and accolades and at the MAMAs they delighted the young crowd with a mash up of afrobeat hits including Uhuru’s "Y-tjukutja" and D’banj’s "Oliver Twist". Plus, their music makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.