With the 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards on MTV Base (DStv 322) set for Durban again soon, I spoke with Alex Okosi, the senior vice president and managing director of Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa).
I asked him whether Trevor Noah will be the host of the 2015 MAMAs, why its important that people should vote, why an African music awards show matters, why the MAMAs is going to Durban again, and what he's learn from last year.
Here's what he said.
You haven't announced the host yet, is Trevor Noah going to be the host? Would you like Trevor Noah to host the 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards? What would it mean for the MAMAs to have him as a host?
Alex Okosi: Trevor Noah is set to start as host of The Daily Show on one of our channels and that's a big thing. Obviously there's preparation that he needs to do for that. We've had conversations with Trevor Noah and some of the folks of the show.
At this stage of the game we don't know how that will go.
It's not that he doesn't want to do it but I know that there's a whole bunch of factors around his schedule that we're trying to figure out. With that said, we will put the best host on stage that will be able to push the campaign.
Why did MTV Base choose Durban again for the 2015 MTV Africa Music Awards, and what does holding it in Durban bring to such an award show production?
Alex Okosi: You have to have partners who have the same vision as you do. For us, we always want to show the world a reimagined Africa, which to the world is an Africa they don't oftentimes see. Durban is an amazingly beautiful location.
We also want to show that we can stage world class productions in cities across the continent and Durban offers you that - great infrastructure and a very supportive province. It's very accessible, the infrastructure's great, and our vision of showcasing Africa is in line with what Durban as a city wants to do.
You don't want to do a production like this in a place where you don't have enough hotels, where the infrastructure's not right and it's a struggle, so that's why we get excited about Durban.
With the Channel O Africa Music Video Awards which is cancelled because M-Net cut the channel from the rest of Africa on DStv, it leaves really the MTV Africa Music Awards as Africa's only continental music awards show.
Why would you say it's important to have something like an African music awards and a show that celebrates music?
Alex Okosi: I think if you're a footballer, if you're an artist, if you're a business leader, being able to have entities, award shows and things like that to recognise what's a great company to work for or who's really doing well,provides a credible catalyst for the people in the market to aspire to that.
For us, the MAMAs, we really want to celebrate the accomplishments of those doing really well. It fosters even more growth in the industry.
What we love about the MAMAs is that it's not just a pan-African show for us. We package the show and broadcast it across a lot of the MTV channels around the world. Which means that a billion people can have access to the content. I get so excited when someone in the UK calls me and says "Wow, I can't believe the MAMAs are on in the UK" and showcasing African talent in the best light possible.
The MAMAs also now isn't just music for us, we also recognise personalities, we have a Leadership award to recognise young people who are doing amazing things. We're not just a music channel, we're a lifestyle channel and we want to celebrate young people doing great things across the continent.
From the organising it and seeing it and experiencing it, what is maybe something that you learnt from last year?
Alex Okosi: I've got to make sure that the media contingent has the best experience possible, right? Ha ha. I think some of the media might not have had the best experience, and I need to make sure I take about the media.
With a show like this that's so complex, it's not just about staging an amazing show for the fans and audience but you have to make sure that everyone feels that they've got just positioning as far as the show is concerned.
We have a great city, we have a fantastic location, it was a fantastic production. We again want to take it to the next level. There's nothing from last year that we took negatively at all. We want to make it an even more dynamic show.
It's something I'm very proud to be associated with as an African.
It's the same core team of people again who produce our show, who produce our European music awards, that produce all our global MTV franchises, the same people who work collectively on the show to make it an amazing and I think that's what's powerful about it. It's such a global priority - not just for us from African but for the entire Viacom network.
Why is it important for viewers and fans to vote?
Alex Okosi: Allowing the audience to have a voice is powerful because they're the ones that consume the content and have the experience with the artists on a day to day basis. For us it's very, very important that it's democratic.
We really want people to vote, to rally behind their favourites, to take time and vote online and just say I appreciate this artist. So if you have an artist that you like, whether they're from Tanzania, or Congo or Nigeria or Ghana, vote for them and show them that support. It's a rewarding feeling for an artist to know that their creativity and talent is recognised.
It's really honestly amazing for me that you guys are going to incorporate young people into the show to get on the job experience again at this year's event. One of the last things a lot of companies want or think favourably of, is to have interns or young people help out or do things when you're on deadline and sit with production pressure.
A lot of places don't feel they have the capacity to take inexperienced people on and show them the ropes and have them do stuff when you're in a pressure cooker environment. Why do you guys do that and do you have a message for other companies? Is it not a crazy thing to do?
Alex Okosi: It's not a crazy thing to do, we did it last year.
For us it is about empowerment. The word is thrown around a lot. Our brands like MTV Base should not only entertain people but also deal with issues and ideas which enable our people across the African continent to rise.
Practically to help with on the job training, it's critical. Without it there won't be the next you, or the next anyone else that you think is great if they don't get that mentorship; if they don't get that guidance; that exposure.
It's something that for me I've benefitted from a whole bunch. On the African continent we need to find opportunities to provide mentorship. For me this is mentorship as well. You're partnering and helping young people to show them the ropes a little bit. Mentorship isn't just providing advice but also on the job training, and what it takes to pull of something like this.
We need to raise our continent and make sure we provide platforms and opportunities for young people to come onboard.
Our effort may not be huge but I think for those that it will impact, I hope that it opens up their eyes to what they can be, and also help to imagine how successful they can be, which is powerful. If you want to be successful, you also have to be able to dream that you can be successful.