President of the Swaziland Arts and Music Association
(SWAMA), Mr. Lutfo Dlamini
Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the MTN Swaziland
Music Awards, Mr. Melusi Dlamini
Acting Chairman of the Board of the Swaziland National Council
of Arts and Culture, Reverend Johannes Manikela
Chief Executive Officer of MTN Swaziland, Mr. Ambrose Dlamini
Representatives of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my honor, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, to welcome you all to the launch of the MTN Swaziland Music Awards, and say how pleased I am to have the opportunity to participate at this exciting new event in the world of Swazi music.
Perhaps the most enduring saying about music is from the famous sixteenth century playwright, William Shakespeare, in his play Twelfth Night – “if music be the food of love, play on.” Music dominated his plays in much the same way that it has a great influence on human life in the modern era – to varying degrees of course!
So great is the impact of music in people’s lives that, when we hear a song played from the recent or distant past, it brings back clear memories of a phase of our life, as well as events, places and friendships. Even, perhaps, of the day our soccer team won a memorable victory! Music has an extraordinary impact – usually a very pleasant and uplifting one – on the human mind.
And music has a powerful place within Swazi culture, to such an extent that our music has given rise to an impressive international reputation. As you will appreciate, there are numerous forms of music. Last December I had the honour of attending the Swaziland Gospel Music Awards and today we are launching a new event – an awards ceremony that covers all forms of music, including gospel. The aim is to give every kind of music and musician the opportunity for wider public recognition, at the same time as giving the listeners access to a broader range of local source music. The MTN Swaziland Music Awards Concept provides a unique stage for musicians to reach out to music lovers who, in turn, are able to express their opinions.
The event is the brainchild of Swaziland Arts and Music Association (SWAMA) and serves to demonstrate to our Nation the diversity and quality of our music across a broad spectrum, and to recognize musicians who have contributed to the growth of the music industry in the Kingdom. And it will be through the sustainable growth of our recording industry that more of our artistes will gain exposure and recognition.
The Awards Ceremony itself, to be held on 5 August 2017, will make awards across no fewer than 17 categories plus two special ones – the first for lifetime achievement, and the second for the most downloaded MTN caller tune. All digital platforms where information regarding these awards have been announced and will, as of today, be open until 30 April 2017 for anyone – and hopefully everyone –to nominate their favorite musicians!
Following the collation of all the votes, then the MTN SWAMA Awards organizing committee will present to us all the full line-up of what the general public chose as the best of authentic Swazi performers. An exciting event indeed!
Swazi Music has come of age and we want to hear it a lot more. On the day of the Awards Ceremony we are hoping that all media platforms in Swaziland will dedicate themselves to 100% local music in a special promotion initiative. Extensive exposure is one of the most effective promotion techniques. At present, we have two dedicated radio programmes – Local Top 20 and Swazi Rhythm. I take this opportunity to encourage radio and TV programmes to draw more on local content. We currently have one marvelous song by a Swazi performer – Tigi by Sands – that is in the top three most-played songs on South African radio stations. The success of that song gives us real pride but there will be more of similar quality out there in Swazi music. Let’s tap it!
Promoting our Swazi musicians and their music can extend beyond radio and TV to individual and corporate events. We thank MTN for yet another expression of its corporate social responsibility code in sponsoring this event, and encourage other members of the private sector to also engage Swazi performers. Please remember that Swazi music now stands shoulder to shoulder with that of other nations. Prioritizing the employment of Swazi musicians does not mean compromising quality.
As well as promoting our musicians, we also need to protect their genius and products. This will be achieved through the Intellectual Property Rights Bill which is currently with Parliament. We trust that it will soon be promulgated. A further piece of legislation, the Arts and Culture Bill, will shortly be reviewed by Cabinet. Once promulgated it will enable regulations to be drawn up that implement the provisions of the Government Circular that specifies the proportion of resources that local festivals should allocate to local artistes, in relation to their counterparts from outside the country.
In addition to thanking the sponsor, MTN, I express our gratitude to the organizers for the progress they are making, for this Launch today and for the work that lies ahead in collating and processing the voting data. We look forward very much to the outcome of all the votes and the Awards event in August of this year.
In conclusion let me join you all in hoping that there will be an enthusiastic response by the general public to the invitation to nominate in the various categories, and wish all our Swazi musicians a creative and prosperous career in their chosen art form.
It is now my honour, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, to declare the MTN Swaziland Music Awards duly launched.