The Observer (Kampala)

5 February 2013

Uganda: Hipipo.com Set to Revive Music Awards

The prestigious Pearl of Africa Music (PAM) awards that started in 2003 and enjoyed popularity until 2010 and have since waned.

This laid ground for the likes of Diva, Golden, Swanma, Olive and Vision awards, among others. Last year though, only the Olive awards - recognising gospel music - were organised. Amidst this confusion, HiPipo.com, arguably East Africa's reigning social entertainment website, was preparing to fill this vacuum.

In what they dubbed the HiPipo Music awards (HMA) under the theme, The Online Music Excellence, organisers are planning to give a new lease of life to Uganda's music awards that were losing trust and meaning. Slated for February 9 at Theatre La Bonita, HMA will recognise and reward Uganda's finest talent in 24 categories as voted by fans.

"These are popularity awards. The winner of each category will be that person with the highest number of votes," says Innocent Kawooya, chief marketing officer HiPipo.com.

Kawooya says the HMA are the most transparent and systematic awards that the country will ever experience.

"When HiPipo was started back in 2006, we had a strategic plan to expand to greater heights. We have grown from news uploads, audio-video uploads, audio and video charts to the monthly HiPipo celebrity night - and now, the HiPipo Music awards," he says.

Kawooya says this is an indicator of systematic growth.

"Unlike most lucrative individuals that just join the industry without a history of music, we believe that we are working with experience," he adds.

With over 7,500 daily unique visitors and close to 21,000 daily hits - HiPipo is among the top five most visited Ugandan websites - this is a baseline for ensuring continuity of the awards. The voting system is also clear.

"We have three voting platforms. If someone fails to vote via SMS, they can at least vote through a developed Facebook application or go to the HMA website," Kawooya says.

Just days to go, this year's HMA are a tight race for glory between top artistes and young talent. The likes of Young Mulo, Rema, Hajjati Madina, Gravity, Lary Chary, Ekky, Diana Nalubega, and Young Zee, among others, had some stunning productions - putting the so-called big artistes on the edge for this year's top accolades.

For instance, in the Best Dancehall/Ragga song category, it's uncertain whether established artistes such as Jose Chameleone, Bebe Cool and Bobi Wine will beat Young Mulo with his Tebakusobola hit. On the other hand, no one is sure who will be victorious when new girl on the block Rema tussles it out with Grace Nakimera, Keko, Irene Namubiru, and Julianna Kanyomozi for best female artiste.

"HMA is a bit balanced with both young talent and established artistes competing for top accolades," says Richard Mulema, a music fan.

HMA has also introduced unique categories: best video producer and best young artiste. Emmanuel Mulondo, the chairman Uganda Talents Managers Association (UTAMA) notes that HMA is a well-timed innovation which must stay free and fair for all musicians.

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