It was an evening ceremony that kept many on the edge of their seats as they waited for the action to kick off.
For the over 2,000 guests in attendance at the Diamond Jubilee Hall in Dar es Salaam, and thousands glued to their TV screens at home, it was rendezvous to behold, as the best in the music industry came out to be crowned. The 12th edition of the Kilimanjaro Tanzania Music Awards night was a show rich in style and elegance, the celebrities rubbed shoulders with their equals and admirers to make it an evening to remember.
The show hosted by Cloud FM presenters Penny Mwingilwa and Millard Ayo was in the end a veritable gathering of movie stars, former beauty queens, soccer stars, comedians, fashion designers, radio and TV presenters, and hordes of their adoring fans.
They were there either as invited guests or had dug deep into their pockets to buy the tickets. Unlike last year, which was an invite-only event, this time around, the organisers chose to use the full width of the expansive arena to accommodate more people. And some of the tickets went for Sh25, 000. But this did not dampen the glamour, as some tongues had wagged before the day. The interior décor for the event and in-house services matched the entry fee.
Just like last year, male dominance continued in the awards in many aspects, including the stage performances, as only two women, Linah Sanga and Lady Jaydee, were awarded.Leading in the medal haul was singer Abbas Hamis aka 20%, who lit up the night at the premier venue with a unprecedented victory, taking home five major awards. He set a record, leaving most of last year's winners licking their wounds.
The star, who, strangely enough, was not there to savour the accolades, had led the nomination race with five nods.
He made a clean sweep in all the categories in which he was nominated. Blazing the trail were his two chart topping songs, 'Tamaa Mbaya' and 'Ya Nini Malumbano'. He also bagged the night's top award of the Song of the Year. Tanzania House of Talent (THT) graduate Linah Sanga shone with two awards in her first season after her stint at the talent house. She took home the Best Up and Coming Artiste of the Year and the Best Female Artiste.
The shock victories continued with another R&B sensation, Ben Paul, bagging the Best R&B Song for his effort in 'Nikikupata'.
But the shock of the night was when comedian Mpoki was announced as the winner of the Best Traditional Song of the Year for his composition, Shangazi, beating off competition from last year's winner, renowned poet Mrisho Mpoto.Other big winners of the night were king of Bongo crank Cpwaa and JCB, who both took home two gongs.
Cpwaa went home with the Best Ragga Song award for Action, a collabo with Jamaica's Trinity. The same song, which features Mangwair and Dully Sykes, also swept the Best Video award. The Arusha-based JCB took two awards. One was for the Best Collabo effort featuring Fid Q, Chid Benz and Jay MO, with their song, 'Ukisikia Paah'. He also won the Best hip-hop category, with the same song.
THT kicked off the evening with scintillating choreography, with the band playing instrumentals.
Little did we know that this was going to be the trend, as for the first time, all the artistes at the awards performed live, giving the show class and another first in putting aside the usual playbacks.
However, two performances carried the night. One was Banana Zorro, Ali Kiba and Diamond's rendition of Msondo Ngoma's 'Tunatoana Roho', which drove the audience in a frenzy, especially after the band's legendary solo guitarist, Said Mabere, rose from his VIP seat to join the instrumentalists. He, of course, grabbed his favourite lead guitar, providing an authentic feel.
The second performance was a collabo by Linah Sanga and Taarab great Mzee Yusuph, who redid Patricia Hillary's 'Njiwa', with creativity and aplomb..
Such occasions are known for glamour and fashion sense, and the Kili show did not disappoint. As the Swahili saying goes, revelers break the wardrobes for such occasions and they certainly did.
The dress sense was more pronounced, especially amongst the fairer sex, who outdid their male counterparts in this department.
Though there were some skimpy outfits with paisley getups, many went for the flowing gowns, which came in all types of designs and colours.
Show hostess Penny led with a kitenge print. TV personality Maimatha Jesse turned up in an extra flowing pink gown, which required some help as she off the stage after presenting an award. Twanga Pepeta's Louisa Mbutu, former beauty queen K-Lynn, and singer Shaa were not left far behind.
The clothes couldn't have served the purpose without the creative hairstyles. Linah turned out like a certain Willow Smith, the daughter of actor and singer Will Smith, as she whipped her hair into all sorts of colours. Jacqueline Wolper opted for the Sharobaro mawhawk style to spice up the night.However, many kept it modest, settling for formal attire, especially the men.
Though there was a slight change this time around, as most guests called upon to announce the winners avoided verbosity, most of the winners, with the exception of Cpwaa, had nothing meaningful to tell the audience.
Some mumbled stuff that was barely audible, as others, such as comedian Mpoki, uttered what bordered on obscenity. The three-minute time limit set by the organisers saved us the audience unnecessary rants from ill-prepared stars.
Much as the stage was well decorated in the theme colours of the day, it was such a distant and monotonous affair compared to last year's. Not even the LED TV screens could help the situation since most people wanted to watch the proceedings live on stage. The props were just nowhere to make things work out, as the same stage was maintained from beginning to the end.
However, as the event after Mapacha Watatu's performance, some were puzzled as to which Lady Jaydee had snubbed the awards, yet word hard it that she was in town!