Why MTV suspended this year’s MAMA awards in Kampala
Popular Music channel MTV Base on Thursday announced that it had indefinitely suspended its prestigious MTV Africa Music Awards also known as the MAMAs which were slated to take place in Kampala this month.
In a statement on twitter, MTV Africa said without giving reasons that the awards would be pushed forward to a later date.
“MTV Base is postponing the 2021 MTV Africa Music Awards. We will keep fans updated as we have more news,” the channel said.
The MTV Africa Music Awards were established in 2008 by MTV Networks Africa to celebrate the most popular contemporary music on the continent and have grown to become prestigious.
Tourism authorities in Uganda through the tourism ministry and its marketing body the Uganda Tourism Board had lobbied and heavily invested in the awards to happen in the country capital Kampala under the official tourism tagline of the country’s tourism promotion known as Visit Uganda.
The move was aimed at pushing forward the country’s new agenda of attracting more visitors from across the continent in the next five years.
Although the channel didn’t give reason for the cancellation, it comes at the backdrop of a nearly month long social media campaign by sections of disgruntled Ugandans against the country hosting the awards as a way of covering up its poor human rights record.
The proponents of the campaign against the awards say that in the past months, security forces have indiscriminately killed, abducted, tortured and illegal arrested several Ugandans and the actors have not been brought to book.
In November, security forces killed 54 people after protests broke out following the arrest of Presidential aspirant Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, a musician who was challenging incumbent Yoweri Museveni.
During the election date on January 14, government shut down the internet for four days and social media in the country is still blocked.
When American rapper and producer DJ Khalid tweeted that he was going to be the host of the awards ceremony, the replies on his tweet were filled with gruesome pictures of killings and calls for him to boycott the awards. He deleted the tweet.
The pressure went to the MTV Base management who largely remained quiet forcing the proponents to turn their guns on announced performers and award nominees to boycott the awards.
It is not clear whether these nominees, performers or even sponsors could have pulled out forcing the channel to cancel the awards all together.
Tourism in Uganda has however lost a great opportunity. Although the awards were going to be virtual because of the corona virus pandemic, they were going to showcase and expose Uganda to so many new audiences.