The fault in our SATYs

ANN7 is set to host the second annual South African of the Year awards, or #SATY, this October. The event seeks to commemorate South Africa’s biggest achievers, and its main drawcard is performances by international stars, Christina Aguilera and Jason Derulo. Wait, what? FIRDAUS KHAN tells us why she thinks the whole thing is a bit hypocritical.

The theme of #SATY2015 is “Unity in Diversity” and the purported aim of the event is to, as ANN7 puts it, “bind us as a nation”.

So how is employing American artists supposed to help us celebrate our diversity and difference?

Aguilera and Derulo aren’t the only acts performing at the SATY’s – AKA, ChianoSky, The Soil and Mafikizolo will be there too – but the Americans’ names are most frequently mentioned.

South Africa’s musical landscape is vast and growing, and certainly more than up for the task.

Earlier this year, South African house group Mi Casa made headlines with their world tour. Performing solo, and not as an opening act to any international artist, the group sold out in countries around the world, including Italy, Canada, Portugal and the USA. They also performed on the same stage as world famous Ed Sheeran.

Also firing up the sound-waves on the SA music front is Cassper Nyovest. In July this year, Nyovest was crowned best hip-hop artist in Africa at MTV’s African Music Awards (MAMAs). He boasts a cabinet full of music awards (19 of them in fact) as well as a platinum plaque, and has shared the stage with international rappers, Wiz Khalifa and Kendrick Lamar.

With hits like Doc Shebeleza and Holler at a Pantsula, we believe Nyovest embodies the essence of South African culture.

Another group hitting all the right notes is Beatenberg. Winners of six awards at this year’s South African Music Awards, the Cape Town band is making a splash on the music scene. But their tunes are appreciated in international circles too. Earlier this year, the trio performed at the Primevera Festival in Barcelona and alongside Mumford and Sons in Scotland.

Yet, clearly ANN7 doesn’t think local talent is enough to secure ears and eyeballs.

These are not the first #SATY awards headlined by international acts. Last year, the event scored major viewing points with a performance by Nicole Scherzinger.

To be fair, ANN7 is not exclusively guilty of employing American talent to promote its events – even the MAMA’s made use of Ne-Yo and Jhene Aiko earlier this year.

But my curious patriotism causes me to question how we, as a nation and as a continent, can develop and back our own talent if we do not give them the chance to headline local events?

International artists will always attract a bigger crowd, but if ANN7 and other powerful award hosts really wanted to honour South African achievers, it should do so with South African achievers. This nation, united in our diversity, has more than enough to offer.

Do you agree that SA talent has been getting a raw deal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

– Featured image via ANN7