Mike Dada is the CEO of PRM Africa. On the eve of the AFRIMA Awards held on Sunday, November 15, 2015, at the Eko Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos, Dada spared some time to speak with WESTERN POST’s ADEOLA OGUNRINDE on the role of All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) in developing African culture and why AFRIMA chose to honour former Lagos State governor and APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He said it was a decision by African Union.
Why did you set up AFRIMA?
It is not about me setting it up, it is an institutional organisation. The idea has been there for close to eighteen to twenty years, to set up something of integrity for the continent. For 6 to 7 years we had meetings across the continent, from Gabon to Ghana, Namibia and South Africa. The basic objective is to look at how we can communicate Africa to the rest of the world using the mentality of music, tourism, entertainment, arts and culture to unite the people of Africa, to reduce poverty in the continent.
Who did you align with to set up AFRIMA?
We have a committee, the entire committee is full of professionals who are into advertising, marketing and production. We also have professionals from the music industry, the association of musicians and country directors of AFRIMA. We have key partners which include African Union, AU, and many other partners. It is a project for Africa and no one has been left out.
Why choose music when there are other forms of arts?
We looked for a platform that regardless of language and culture, you will always connect like water. We looked for a platform that is powerful and has universal language. We saw that in music, which is used to communicate, tell a story, any story about Africa.
What is the story of Africa to you as regards music?
The story of Africa as regards music is the story of trial and triumph, the story of tribulation and success, doggedness. The story of tenacity, never say die, that story of fighting to succeed regardless of several challenges. A continent with so much resources that needs to find its identity and triumph beyond what is obtainable now.
The forms of music in the early years independence of many African nations was quite different, it was a music of struggle and freedom, from Fela Kuti to Miriam Makeba, do you still see such music being produced now?
I think that was an era in the history of Africa, in the era of colonialism, apartheid and of oppression. It informed that kind of music and lyrics. This is a new era, which is calling for partnerships, for collaboration across the world, it is an era of prosperity, an era globalization, which has influenced the kind of music that is produced at this time, African artist collaborating with musicians from Europe, America and other continents.
Many of these collaborations bring language and culture together, what is the role of culture in African music as it relates to AFRIMA?
The role of culture is key and the idea of AFRIMA is to communicate the language and culture of Africa, which you may not find in other awards. We do this in different forms, in dance, in music and costume. Our culture defines the kind of music we have on stage
What makes AFRIMA different from other awards we have in Africa?
I will say the more we have the better for us. What makes AFRIMA different is that it is a platform for communication, for perception about the continent, for telling our stories, many new narrative about Africa. It is the only award that you have a 23 carat gold trophy given out to people
Why did AFRIMA honour former Governor of Lagos, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, why him?
It is not a decision by us, it was a decision by African Union. They looked for a rallying figure that can give support, to the development of arts and culture in Africa, to create change and job employment for people. Someone who can make the industry of arts and culture become first on the continent bringing it to the hearts of African leaders.
Which will you consider as your favourite African music?
First and foremost I am a public relations professional. Growing up as a child, I listened to the songs of Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey of this world, the fuji and the juju. American music also dominated my childhood. Michael Jackson played a great role, influencing me into music.
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt from music?
When you pray you tell God to send his angel but when you sing He comes down himself that is the power of music.