Saturday, May 23, 2009

Afrovision Song Contest anyone?

Eurovision 2009 Winner Alexander Rybak
After the annual Eurovision Song contest.... Yes, you heard me...'Eurovision': the most popular and much-hyped European reality song contest you would have NEVER heard of. Well, at least I should admit I had never heard of the Eurovision song contest until I was in England in 2005. Apparently the contest has been around since the 1950s. It is surprising that I had never heard of Eurovision considering I was brought up on a healthy staple of ABBA classics and subjected myself to camp television that included Pop in Germany in the 1980s. If there is anyone out there who has actually watched Pop in Germany, please let me so I know I did not just imagine this show. Why the ABBA reference you ask? According to the good people over at Wikipedia, ABBA won Eurovision back in 1974 with Waterloo. Waterloo also also happens to be my favorite ABBA song. Anyway, I digress, ever since the hype over Eurovision 2009, I have been wondering...would a trans-African song contest ever work here in Africa?

Too many questions come to my mind:
1. What would the official song language be for the Afrovision competition? Would the Francophones think it is unfair if it is English, would everybody be allowed to compete in their own language?
2. Would the competition be dominated by South Africa or Nigeria....or even the current African bastion of democratic perfection Ghana?

3. Would the Afrovision Song Contest be open to countries on the land mass of the continent like when it comes to football or just us over on the so-called "Sub-saharan Africa" side of the continent?

4. Would the entire world think it is unfair that we devoting time to frivolous things like song contests when we should be worrying about disease, war, poverty, debt and foreign aid?

5. Which country would host the competition? South Africa or Nigeria....or even the current African bastion of democratic perfection, Ghana?

Although it would be a logistical nightmare, I think an Afrovision contest is a possibility. After all, we have done reality shows to perfection across the continent. There was Idols South Africa, Idols West Africa and one of my bestest buddies from high school was in the very first Big Brother Africa. Coming to think of it, all these competitions seem to be a tad Anglophone dominated. *Sigh* let's face it, maybe we are just too diverse for a trans-African competition. We are probably not ready for a trans-Africa union wonder the African Union does not really seem to be working out for us either!


Adaeze said...

Interesting post!
I am so used to eurovision! It's been on tv once a year ever since I was born, lol. And the rest of the year people are battling localy who will be this years contestant from Norway. This year we won and there has been nothing but madness since. Thousands of people showed up at the airport to meet the guy (mainly screaming teens) and it was utter chaos.

I do not think Africa is too diverse at all to have an Afrovision song contest. Sure - having a trans-african union I can agree is hard to accomplish but thats because its far more serious. The song contest is all about fun. And it has been about celebrating diversity a lot even though the contest really sucks in my opinion - not the concept but the songs, lol.

1) I think It would be fair for the official language to be English. It is in Europe, where the French are just as dominant. Therefore, whenever they read the points, they make sure to do so in French aswell, and the french are allowed to speak french, lol. No matter how dominant French is, English is the world language now.

2) If the competition were to follow the eurovision song contest model, no country would be able to dominate because every country is only allowed one contestant. But I am not sure how you meant that question. They might get all the votes but as time goes by smaller countries would get their shot I think. Its all about the song!

3)Again if following the eurovision song model it would have nothing to do with landmass or population, just country.

4) Sure, that might be true. I think that is a tricky question. It is true on one side, but one should also not forget what the competition is about. It can be compared to the olympics and it is about creating bonds/unity. Countries cant vote for themselves and it celebrates diversity. For the last couple of years many of the participants in europe had a lot of folk influence from their native country in their songs mixed with pop. I think that would be cool when it comes to Africa. Thats also how this years ESC winner song was - pop-folky, lol. Every country that wins will host next years event and therefore has a massive business opportunity. It does cost them a lot but it brings so much attention to the country, just like hosting the world cup in football would.

5) Who would host the first time I guess would be tricky too..but after that anyone that wins would host?

Its interesting thinking about it at least!

Maya said...

Yes, let's do it! As I mentioned in my own blog it would be interesting to try it out.

As someone who's grown up with Eurovision as one of the year's highlights maybe I could be a special consultant? As for the logistics, in Eurovision you're allowed to sing in your own language or English and the host of the show is whatever country won the previous year, i.e. when you win, you know you'll be hosting next year's event.

If Europe is anything to go by, the big influential countries are not the given winners, you'll see countries like Azerbadjan ranking quite high, that's what makes it all the more fun.

How do we get this idea off the road? With all the wars, poverty, malaria and famine (after all, according to the media that's all Africa's about), I think we could use a bit of kitsch entertainment to lighten up the mood!

Abena said...

*Wow* Adaeze, thanks for the Eurovision info..I had no idea about most of the competition rules you touched on.
I think if there is one contestant per country there would definitely mean a fairer representation. I suppose Nigeria and South tend to dominate these competitions because larger populations inevitably means more talent!

Anyway, I think Afrovision could be worth a shot :)

Abena said...

*Double Wow* Maya, great to have more Eurovision info from people who know what it is all about. Fascinating that both Adaeze and yourself grew up on Eurovision in Scandinavian countries.
I totally agree that kitsch entertainment would be a great break from everyday doom and gloom over here in Africa.
BTW; If Afrovision comes around, I would definitely lobby for you and (Adaeze) to be hired as consultants!

Anonymous said...

I heard about Eurovision for the first time in my life this the "weird stories" section of the Express- a free newspaper by the Washington Post.

It was a picture of some guy practicing for his performance on a gigantic wheel type thing. Got me very confused. Looked like a circus...

patrick said...

@Abena,Afrovision song contest will be great it can be in any language,personally some of my favorite music i listen to i have no idea what the musicians are singing about but enjoy the soul they put into it..take music from south africa ,Mali,Senegal ete these are some great music...I hope you are not buyin into the doom and gloom about

Abena said...

*LOL* That really made my morning Anonymous! I guess it goes to show that the Eurovision concept is pretty alien to America. I thinking Eurovision is more free-spirited and eccentric than American Idols. Did you ever watch that old spoof show on Comedy Central "Viva Variety"? Somehow I see that as the epitome of the American take on European variety shows and how Americans would think Eurovision would be like!

Abena said...

@Patrick, you do have a strong point there; I do enjoy Baaba Maal, Youssou N'Dour and Cheikh Lo with an almost 0% knowledge of Wollof..
Have never bought into the doom and gloom because despite adversity one can never deny the irrepressible spirit of African people all over the continent.

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

I saw 'Pop in Germany'!

patrick said...

Abena,check this guy out lovely music...

MIghTy African said...

this Eurovision competition is interesting though I need to research it on a bit more. I think an Afrovision one would be cool and I don't think it should be limited to one country.
How different would this Afrovision contest be different from the MTV Africa Music Awards or Channel O or Kora awards?

Abena said...

@Nana Yaw; I'm really impressed and excited that you have watched it! I can't even find Pop in Germany on the internet!

@Patrick;Papa Wemba is absolutely amazing...excellent music..

@Mighty African: the interesting thing about Eurovision is that it is an open competition that actually takes place