UEMA’21 Revealed: This is how Nambawan became Artist of the Year.


Since the night after the Upper East Music Awards 2021 (UEMA’21) , some intriguing positions have been assumed by some sections of the music industry. While many hailed the event’s success, others hanged on to the age-long assumption of unfairness. Interestingly, the ultimate winner of the night, Nambawan, previously expressed misgivings about the scheme. Did it, therefore, come as a surprise when others labeled his win as fraudulent? No.

The accusations of a fraudulent win started with Mani Mandela’s post about breaking his other plagues to express dissatisfaction. While Mani Mandela did what could enable him to win, it is worth noting that there can only be one winner. Additional nominees may have their positions on the matter. However, they chose to stay mute.

Some accusations emerged on the heels of the event; the usual Bolgatanga against other towns in the region, an allegation about cutting a deal between the winner & organizers, and a suggestion that Nambawan, per the rules, did not qualify to enter UEMA AOTY’21. While the last of the three is easy to fact check, there former two could easily be dismissed as speculations.

Related Read : Happy Man Bitters Should not Stop Sponsoring Upper East Music Awards; here is why.

Bolgatanga against other towns – UEMA’21

A careful sift-through of the nominations suggests entries came from across the region. Winners equally came from all over. Obed Psych won Record of the Year, representing Bawku. Mani Mandela emerged winner of the HMB-Most popular Song of the Year and Digital artist of the Year categories. Industry Person of the Year also went to a man from the Navrongo area, Afabla Ayini Castro. Kapato Reigns from the Builsa area also emerged as the Traditional Artist of the Year. Navrongo’s Darling, and arguably the only female contemporary artist who has remained consistent, Alaptawan, emerged Reggae/Dancehall Artiste of the Year. If the above is accepted as a true representation of the worth of the artists, why should a Nambawan emerging AOTY be a problem? It beats my imagination when someone tries to make the Award scheme seem like one that seeks to reward only artists in Bolgatanga. I will someday share thoughts on how these perceptions have been formed and propose a way to move from that.

Cutting a deal with Organisers of UEMA’21

The above is interesting speculation—however, everyone who has mentioned it has never dared to reveal anything tangible. Even Showboy, who lives on controversies, fell short of anything substantial when he visited YEM Radio. Speculations are that the organizers ensured a win for Nambawan so that they could split the 20k prize money. This assertion may stem from people assuming Mr. West, aka West Gee, was a Board Member. However, my checks revealed that no artist manager was on the Board or Executive Academy. Therefore, Mr. West, the label owner under which Nambawan releases his work, couldn’t be a member of any board. In a spirit of fairness, if there exists any evidence to the effect that a deal took place, the industry would gain more if people came out. 

Per the rules, Nambawan did not qualify to enter UEMA’21

In assessing the above, I had to dig through some of the artist’s various promotional channels. My concentration was on Youtube, Audiomack & Facebook. I needed to be sure of the Category definition and what the “Year under review” means concerning the scheme. Kabu Banks shared the following with me as the category definition and year under review.


Artiste(s) of the Year.

The Artiste of the Year is the Artiste(s) adjudged by the Academy, Board, and the General Public as the Artiste(s) with the highest audience appeal and popularity. The Artiste(s) must have released a hit single/album during the year under review.”

The year under review he mentioned is “From October 2020 to September 2021”.

From my checks, Nambawan released two songs. “La Concern Me” was released on April 4, 2021, and Flow Kempinsky was released around May of 2021. My uncertainty regarding the date of release for that particular song is because it isn’t on his audiomack channel. It is only available as a music video on Youtube. The above leaves out his single with Fad Lan Ajilegba, released on October 22, 2021. Technically that song was released outside the year under review. So, if Nambawan qualified for the category, it would be on the performance of La Concern Me & Flow Kempinsky. 

Flow Kempinsky

Within the year under review, he, however, was featured on Apuu by Ruty Roc, Elephant by Soorebia, Apokgpika by Aben, John Rambo by Auggy, Soul Train by Exsyd Family, Be My Valentine By Bone Dee & High Limit, and Nongre Banga (Love Trap) by Danni Quest.

By Danni Quest. Regarding performances and events, I decided not to burden myself. 

Considering the definition of the category, Nambawan could qualify for UEMA’21 AOTY. Unless skeptics can quantify “audience appeal and popularity,” his inclusion was appropriate. 

I have three questions here:

  1. Does Nambawan have a high audience appeal in the region?
  2. Is Nambawan popular enough to be in such a category?
  3. Were his songs released in the year under review hit songs?

Question 1 is a yes, two is a yes, and three is a yes, or maybe at worst. I am not privy to the statistics on the ground. However, if the board saw the songs as hits, I find nothing wrong with it. 

How Did Nambawan emerge as a winner?

Assuming there are no shenanigans, the scheme thrives on votes, whether the academy or the public; each vote cast becomes the basis for determining who a winner is. As published by the UEMA’21, Nambawan got 44.84% of the total votes. I believe that is a total of all the voting parties, i.e., the Academy, Board, and the General Public. We may doubt the numbers. However, we would have to be constructive and specific with our accusations. If this is something to rant about, we would need to do more to prove it.

Always finding fault when we do not have a direct gain is despicable. It is time we celebrate each other’s win. Nambawan worked to win, just like all the other nominees. However, we can only have one Artiste of the Year at each edition. Congratulations once again to Nambawan for emerging as the winner. 

In a spirit of fairness, I will do a sequel to reveal the various works put out by all nominees in the category.


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