By Azuka Ogujiuba
Kigali smiled on all the stars prior to the AMAA nominees’ party. It was a long night of fun, camaraderie, swashbuckling when Africa Movie Academy Awards hosted Rwadan celebrities, business executives and their Nigerian counterparts at the 2017 AMAA Nominees’ party.
The nominees’ party was a precursor to the main awards, which will hold in Lagos on Saturday July 15, at the Eko Hotel Convention Centre. It is being, officially, hosted by the Lagos State Government as part of a year-long celebration of Lagos at 50.
The party, which took place under a well -decorated marquee at Camp Kigali, was opened by Arthur Nkusi, a Rwandan stand-up comedian who wowed the ecstatic audience of revellers with his rib-cracking jokes after which he called on stage The Maestros, a Nigerian live band from the stable of Bolanle Austen Peters’ creative enterprise.
The crowd gyrated, sang along and danced to many popular hit songs performed by the band. It was a pulsating night of celebration of the nominees into all the categories of the continental awards.
The nominees were announced earlier in Kigali on May 15 by the Academy Jurors and, according to the founder of the awards, Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, the nomination party was a celebration of the progress and breakthrough that African film makers and those in Diaspora have made from when AMAA started in 2005 and now, adding that AMAA’s team also chose Kigali for the event to further promote the cultural, social and economic ties between Nigeria and Rwanda.
“In the spirit of African unity and oneness of the people of Africa we came to Kigali for this event and it has been amazing, the kind of support we got from the government of Rwanda and the relevant government agencies. We got support from Rwanda Development Board and RwandAir. I cannot continue to say the level of cooperation and massive support we got from Frank Murangwa, CEO of Rwanda Convention Bureau and Belise Kariza, Rwanda Chief Tourism Officer who pulled in corporate sponsorship from MTN and other companies.
“We thank Raddison Blu and Convention Centre for the support and Grand Legacy Hotel. Coming to Kigali has been a great and humbling experience for us at AMAA and it further confirms us Africans as brothers and sisters. I want to say thank you Rwanda and thank you to President Paul Kagame for the great work he is doing to transform this country.”
In his address, Murangwa, Chief Executive of RCB underscored the importance of the event to the tourism development of his country and friendship between Nigeria and Rwanda.
He noted that the event has what cooperation between African countries can achieve for the continent and her people, adding that his government looked forward to hosting the main AMAA awards whenever the organisers wanted.
“We are happy to see some of the great stars from Nigeria. We have started a relationship that will continue to grow. You have seen our beautiful country and the transformation that is happening. Rwanda is good for business. We are proud to describe our country as a country of 1000 hills and we welcome visitors with 1000 smiles. We hope you have enjoyed your stay and we will be happy you come back for holidays and to do business in Rwanda,” he said.
Ugandan music star, Ykee Banda also proved his status as a regional pop music star with his sterling performance. He sang his hit songs such as Nipe, featuring Urban Boys, Byonkola and Munakampala, among others which Rwandans sang along, with the accompanying dance steps.
Much earlier during the day before the party started, the Nigerian delegation, which included Joke Silva, Olu Jacobs, Paul Obazele, Tony Anih, Doris Simon, Chinedu Ikezie (Aki), Bolanle Austen Peters, Tonye Princewill, businessman and Executive Producer of the film 76, Izu Ojukwu, Osita Iheme (Paw Paw), Ghanian Lydia Forson, Chidi Nwokebia, Obodozie Valentine, Okezie Chibuike, among others, had a Rwanda Tourism Agency organised Luxury Bus City tour around Kigali.
The tour ended at the Kigali Memorial Centre, a museum built in memory of the victims of the 1994 Genocide. Over 250,000 victims of the genocide were buried in a mass grave at the centre.