An Open letter to the SAMAs

As a music lover I feel that the SAMAS have clearly lost touch with the South Africans. My being a music fan has left me with an even greater and deeper sense of dismay so much so that I feel compelled to write this letter. Where I think that the SAMAS fail stems from two key sources: (1) overzealousness to produce a popular show that is at odds with its own system of voting and (2) fundamental disrespect of cultural shifts as being viable and artistic.

As an institution that celebrates artistic work of musicians, I have come to expect that the SAMAS upholds values that reflect the very best in music that is born from this country. Unfortunately, the awards show has become a series of hypocrisies and contradictions, leaving me to question why any artistic artist would even participate. How is it possible that Tshwanelo – an album by Tuks Senganga — was beaten out by Amu (no disrespect) for Best Rap Album? Or consider the musical genious of Zakes Bantwini, after being the most artistic popular culture musician, he was beaten by Professor for Male Artist of the Year. While there is no doubt in my mind of the talent of Professor, I think we must acknowledge the massive impact of Zakes Bantwini and how his musical artistry is shaping, influencing and defining the cultural path our contemporary music is taking. It is this same cultural impact that acknowledged the commercial and critical success of Brenda Fassie. Where was Simphiwe Dana? How can Chommie be nominated and Kwela Tebza win over this African prodigy, an artist that defines what it means to be a true maestro? Or is it because she doesn’t dance with the president? Her cultural impact and success are even more quantifiable if you factor in her commercial success and Youtube viewership. How long will the genuinely deserving artists that the public acknowledges as being worthy of their money be snubbed year after year at the SAMAs?  To exhibit your unrepentance, you have shown absolutely no qualms in inviting these same artists to perform.

Interesting that the SAMSs understands the true relevance of these artists by using their names to ensure viewership and to deliver the all-too-important ratings for its sponsors (MTN).

What truly inspired the writing of this letter was this most recent show which fed my suspicions that the SAMAs intentionally use artists’ names in promotion of their show for their celebrity, popularity and appeal when they already know the winners. The “sms voting system” is just a ruse to escape the public’s blame.

Everyone involved in the SAMAs I call you to task at this very moment.

And to all of the talented artists that take pride in their creative workmanship: Stop accepting the invitation to this show only to be made witnesses of mediocre-wannabe-musicians take what’s yours. Demand that the SAMAs change and truly reflect and acknowledge true art.

Khaya Hatile


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