Winners of Love Matters Music Awards announced in Kenya

Helena sings on stage

Earlier this month, 15 completely original songs around themes related to love, sex and relationships were released by Love Matters Africa. Their release marked the launch of the Love Matters Music Awards, the first music awards dedicated to providing young Kenyans the chance to produce tracks around love and sexuality.

Covering everything from how we deal with rape as a society, to longing to have sex after a dry spell, the songs build on themes identified as central to young Kenyans' sexual attitudes and experience, by research led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), in collaboration with Love Matters. The young artists are all students at the Sauti Academy of Penya Africa and were supported by an international creative team.

The winners of the Love Matters Music Awards were announced on Saturday 5 December, at The Creatives Garage in Nairobi.

Winner of the Judges Choice was Omari with the song Dot Com, as selected by Tabu Osusa (Ketebul Records), Ikenna Azuike (What’s Up Africa), Melissa Leach (Director of IDS), Emmy Kahega (researcher) and Pei Yuxin (professor and sexologist).

Omari said: ‘Dot Com is a wake-up call to a perishing generation, it's a call to go and identify where we went wrong as a society and try and do something about it. Issues like teenage sex and pregnancy, pornography, gender violence and rape are things that have affected almost everyone in Kenya. We don't talk about them, but it's there. This is something that needs to be addressed, and change is possible.’

‘I'm just shocked,’ Omari said on wining. ‘I did not expect it and I still can't believe I've won, but it encourages me; someone saw something positive in my art.’

Meanwhile, the winner of the ‘People's Choice’ was Helena with the song Hold My Hand.

‘This is a true story about something one of what my friends went through,’ Helena explained. ‘When she was 14, young and naive, a guy who she thought was her friend took advantage of her and she was raped. She never told her parents about it and for a long time was afraid of being sexual with a man. I believe that music and song can be therapeutic and help people heal past hurt.’ 

‘I am so happy and excited to have won, as well as very appreciative to the people that watched it,’ she added. ‘I hope they took something out it. I hope this song helps us talk about things we can’t talk about within society, and hold somebody else's hand.’ 

Alongside the announcement of the Love Matters Music Award winners, the participants also unveiled ‘Matters of Love: The Show’, a live and completely original production exploring expectations around love and sex, and responsibility in relationships. The multimedia production addresses sensitive subjects which often are not addressed by the mainstream, including gender-based violence and what constitutes good and healthy sex. It incorporates spoken word, drama, music and rap, as well as a number of the song entries for the Love Matters Music Awards itself.

Find out more about the Love Matters Music Awards and wider research project at the Love Matters website

Watch all the entries on the Love Matters YouTube channel.  

Photo: By Iris Honderos. Helena, winner of the People's Choice, sings.


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