KENYA best represented East African Community in the sixth edition of the Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards in the biggest movie night gala held here over the weekend.
East African community member states were well presented by Kenyans who glittered in the night having scooped more awards than the previous event (in 2016) that saw Tanzania actress Elizabeth Michael 'Lulu' (Lulu) and Single Mtambalike (Rich) making East Africa and Tanzania proud in movie industry.
In this year's event, four Kenyans beat the odds and scooped five award, on the Saturday night gala.
The Kenyans out boxed a competitive list of nominees that consisted notable actors from Nigerian's Nollywood to bring the trophies back to East Africa. Mark Maina beat a stiff competition to win the Best Picture Editor award for the movie "18 Hours".
Also it was a double for Phoebe Ruguru who scooped the Best Overall Movie award and the Best Movie award in East Africa for the same movie. "This is a clear indication that even with all our diversity we can all speak one language and we can understand that language to be film.
"So congratulations to all the other nominees, may we continue telling our own stories and sharing them and using them as a way of honouring our history," Ruguru said in her acceptance speech.
In the Best Movie award East Africa category, Ruguru was nominated alongside Hassan Mageye (Devil's Chest ), Kizito Samuel Saviour (The Forbidden), Mathew and Eleanor Nabwiso (Rain) and Math Bish (Bella).
East Africans fourth award came through Dennis Wanjohi Maina who emerged top in the Best Documentary category for the documentary 'The Flesh Business'.
This is a one-hour documentary that sheds light on the rampant underage prostitution in Mombasa and the Coast region. The documentary follows the story of three ladies who take the audience through the challenges of their profession.
Nyce Wanjeri from Kenya as well won the Best Actress in a comedy and TV series in the popular sitcom of Auntie Boss.
Wanjeri, popularly known by her Alter Ego Shiro, moved the crowd with an emotional acceptance speech synonymous with "your dreams are valid" that was delivered by Oscar award winner Lupita Nyong'o when she emerged the Best Supporting Actress in the movie "12 years a slave" in 2014.
"Oh my God! This is my first time to board a plane and I came to Nigeria and my first time to win an award, Ooosh this is so nice," Wanjeri said. Having felt the win from neighbour Kenya, Tanzania had no award to take home in spite having two stars in that night.
Lester Millado who featured in the category of the Best Cinematography with his series 'T- Junction'. He got a stiff competition from Okafor's Law- Yinka Edward (Winner), Akpe Ododoru, Dickson Godwin, Bishop Blunt/ Adeoye Adeniyi and Rwamusigazi Kyakunzire
Whereas veteran, Amil Khan did not emerge as a winner at East African Swahili Category after a facing a stiff competition from Sarika Hemi Lakhani and Siobhan 'Ginger' Wilson (Winners), Sylone Malalo, Tellyrence Wayong and Victor Gatonye.
The duo, however, promised to perform better in the next awards and urged more Tanzanians to support local film industry so as to have the best from Tanzania and East Africa next year.
Early into the award ceremony, Nollywood movie 'TATU' set the pace as one of the night's biggest winners.
The movie features a strong mix of veterans and bankable Nollywood stars such as Segun Arinze Desmond Elliott, Toyin Abraham, Gabriel Afolayan, Rahama Sadau, Sambaza Nzeribe, Funlola Aofiyebi- Raimi, Hafiz Oyetoro (Saka), Frank Dunga and a host of others.
The movie took home took home four awards in the Best Sound Editor, Best Lighting Designer Movie/TV Series, Best Make-Up Artist Movie/ TV Series, and Best Soundtrack Movies/TV Series categories respectively. Nigerian singer and actress Bisola won the Trail Blazer Award. She easily had the best acceptance speech as surprise and shock was written all over her face.
The Industry Merit Award rightfully went to Nollywood giant Tunde Kelani. The iconic filmmaker was not around to collect his award but another legend Segun Odegbami helped him receive the honour. From the Nigerian perspective, the big winners of the night were Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde who finally won her first AMVCA. She took home the Best Actress in a Drama/TV Series for 'Alter Ego'.
And after the event, she told this newspaper 'Daily News' that she was happy to win her debut prize in the awards and that it will push her to be better.
She said in an interview with 'Daily News,' " I am so happy, it's the first one and not the last. I will work hard to get more since this has to be challenged by doing much more to get more awards and in different categories.
The show was well hosted once again by South Africans' IK Osakioduwa and the beautiful Minnie Dlamini-Jones.
At the stage, Ik's perfect balance of professionalism and humour is something all event hosts should aim for because he was there to see the best of the event.
At that night the introductory performance of the AMVCA this year was a dazzling display of South-South Nigerian culture. The dances and the costumes were beautiful and rightly set the tone for the evening's proceedings.
Apart from the South Africans, the event was also showed by nice perfomances from Falz, Adekunle Gold and Bisola all gave lovely performances but the maverick singer, songwriter and producer Cobhams Asuquo got a standing ovation for remixing his single 'One Hit'.
With more than 3000 entries for the 2018 edition of the award, 120 nominations were made for 27 categories, filmmakers and actors from different African countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria attended the event. And through that the event so them battle it out in all 27 categories.
Speaking about the awards, Channel Director of Africa Magic, Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu said, "We happy again to celebrate outstanding achievements in the African film and television industry , It's a hope that we will always have the best