2020 just keeps on rolling out the gob smackers. Latest addition of good news being rolled out is that the Ugandan capital Kampala was yesterday officially unveiled as host of next year’s MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs).

Early last month, a 3D design of the letter M in white, black, yellow and red colors was erected at the Independence monument, something that confused many Ugandans. Social media all over the country went abuzz with the mystery around the letter M. Well, for those who are good at reading between the lines, it was one of the signs that Uganda was getting ready for its first opportunity to host the MAMAs, represented by the M.

The "M" at Uganda's Independence Monument
   The “M” at Uganda’s Independence Monument (Picture: Courtesy)

To confirm this, on Wednesday, MTV Base Africa held a virtual press conference broadcast from Johannesburg and Kampala (physical presser at the Mestil Hotel & Residences) by Monde Twala and Craig Paterson, Senior Vice Presidents and General Managers at ViacomCBS Networks Africa (VCNA), The State Minister for Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda at Ugandan Ministry of Tourism and the CEO for the Ugandan Tourism Board, Lilly Ajarova. The engaging Q&A discussion included accomplished Ugandan artist Bebe Cool, highly skilled songstress Sheebah Karungi together with talented South African rapper Nasty C, as moderated by Douglas Lwanga.

Uganda set to host the 2021 MTV Africa Music Awards as ceremony makes epic return 1 MUGIBSON
Douglas Lwanga (L), Sheebah, Tourism State Minister Godfrey Kiwanda, UTB CEO Lilly Ajarova, and Bebe Cool at the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs) Launch in Uganda (Picture: Celeb Patrol UG)

This follows MTV officially announcing the official return of the Africa Music Awards (MTV MAMA) on our screens for the first time in four years. Coming at a time we as the world are experiencing a global pandemic, that does mean that there will be a lot of digital experience. The news was announced by Senior Vice President and General Manager for ViacomCBS Networks Africa, Monde Twala, indicating that the decision to relaunch the MTV MAMA’s was in line with Viacom Network Africa’s vision of inspiring “young people and unifying communities across the continent through music.”

Always celebrating the pan-African scope of the MAMA, the awards will encompass three pulsating Road to MAMA broadcasts featuring MAMA nominees from across the continent. The MAMA Kampala 2021 is set to bring the much-anticipated music industry workshops in a virtual format for the continent’s aspiring musicians, youth upskilling and development.

Kampala To Host 2021 MAMA Awards
2021 MAMA Awards in Kampala (Picture: Courtesy)

The Kampala presentation will be the first-ever live-streamed virtual MTV Africa Awards. It will also be the first time that the awards will be held in Uganda; following the August 2019 bid by the Ugandan government to have the prestigious awards hosted in Uganda that year. It was to be the very first time the Pearl of Africa was going to host awards of such a magnitude if the bid was accepted by MTV Africa. Nothing was really clear about the awards after Uganda’s bid despite them having been slated to happen in December 2019. That year, they didn’t happen. The outbreak of the global Coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 dashed the hopes of several Ugandans to have the awards hosted in Kampala. The awards were consequently suspended.


First staged in 2008, the MAMA awards were established in 2008 by MTV Networks Africa to celebrate the most popular contemporary music in Africa. They lasted six editions with South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya hosting the awards thrice, twice, and once respectively.  the MTV Africa Music Awards has recognized the talent of musicians, achievers and personalities from across Africa, rewarding iconic artists and gamechangers such as 2Face Idibia, AKA, Anselmo Ralph, Big Nuz, Cassper Nyovest, Clarence Peters, Cabo Snoop, Davido, D’Banj, Diamond Platnumz, Mr. Flavour, Gangs of Ballet, HHP, Fally Ipupa, Liquideep, Lira, Lupita Nyong’o, Mafikizolo Nameless, P-Square, Sarkodie, Tiwa Savage, Toofan, Trevor Noah,  Uhuru, Wahu, Wizkid, Yemi Alade,  Zebra & Giraffe and many more.

MTV Africa Music Award
MTV Africa Music Award (Picture: Courtesy)

The Iconic MTV Base celebration, MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA), which showcases the ultimate in African culture, music, and creativity, will be held in a re-imagined virtual format in partnership with Uganda (The Pearl of Africa on February 20th 2021); a measure taken to keep with the safety protocols adopted by organizations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).  Twala further revealed that the MTV MAMA 2021 ceremony will be hosted in Kampala, in association with Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism; in an effort to promote tourism, wildlife and cultural heritage conservation for the socio-economic development and transformation of Uganda. Sustainable tourism, wildlife and cultural heritage will contribute to transforming Uganda into a modern and prosperous nation.

Monde Twala, senior vice president of ViacomCBS Networks Africa, hailed Uganda’s vision to use the awards to unite young people through culture and music, and also celebrate music across the continent. “Everyone knows that the Pearl of Africa (Uganda) is one of the most beautiful, most amazing parts of Africa…and the people, the vibe, the music in Uganda…there is no other place that is well and ready to host the MAMAs in 2021,” Twala said.

Holding the awards virtually will yield a wide variety of cross-border collaboration between international and African artists “way more than we have ever had before”, Craig Paterson, senior vice president of ViacomCBS Networks Africa, said.

Uganda’s State Minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda said the announcement marked a “great day” for Africa and Uganda, which, he added, was “super excited” to host the awards. “This is Africa’s best moment as we showcase the Pearl of Africa. Welcome MAMAs to the Pearl of Africa! Welcome MAMAs to Uganda!” Kiwanda said. ‘Hosting of the MAMAs will be done in conjunction with the ministry to boost the country’s tourism profile. Tourism contributes about 10 percent to the East African nation’s GDP.’, he added.

Uganda To Host Mtv Africa Music Awards For The First Time
Ugandan State Minister for Tourism Hon. Godfrey Kiwanda speaking at the launch of the 2021 MAMA awards (Picture: New Vision)

The MAMAs come at a time when the music industry has been in slumber for close to a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and this, according to Bebe Cool, is an opportunity for musicians in Uganda to wake up and know that the industry is still alive.

Uganda To Host Mtv Africa Music Awards For The First Time
Ugandan singer Bebe Cool at the launch of the 2021 MAMA awards (Picture: New Vision)

Craig Paterson, Senior Vice President & General Manager, VCNA, continued, “The latest edition of the MAMA promises to be our biggest and most innovative yet. Millions of fans worldwide will enjoy the digitally re-imagined celebration and African music via multiple broadcasts globally. We are excited to partner with Uganda to bring viewers a unique format and experience that positions Africa’s diverse heritage and digital innovation.”

About nomination, an artiste must have released their music video between October 1, 2019, and October 1, 2020. A committee comprising of Media, Entertainment and Record label executives sits on a panel to select the most outstanding records submitted before nomination lists are released.

The MTV MAMAs will include 20 categories, including: ‘Best Song’, ‘Best Collaboration’, ‘Best Female’, ‘Best Male’, the MAMA Generation Change Award, and among others.

Newly introduced categories will include: ‘Alone Together Best Lockdown Performance’, ‘Best Fan Base’; and ‘Personality of the Year’.

Twala revealed that the latter will include role models in entertainment, sport and non-music celebrities. The announcement of the MTV MAMA 2021 nominees will have to wait until December, unfortunately; same for the nominees and international acts to grace the show.


Asked if the MAMAs return was a mark of this being reintroduced as an annual event, Twala said: “For now, we are focused on delivering the best event ever for the upcoming 2021 MAMA in partnership with the Uganda Ministry of Tourism, but we are committed to bringing this celebration to all our fans across the continent and internationally, as we believe this event is a testament of our long-standing commitment towards the young generation via the power of music.”

To crown the event with excitement, Daddy Andre, accompanied by Guitarist Myko Ouma & Saxophonist Joseph Sax, treated those in attendance to some musical performances including an acoustic version of ‘Sikikukweka’. In attendance were media (journalist, bloggers, television/ radio personalities & photographers), artists John Blaq, Navio, and actress Anitah Fabiola, among others.

Well, the MTV Africa Music Awards Kampala 2021 will broadcast on MTV Base (DStv Channel 322) and MTV (DStv Channel 130) on February 20th 2021. The show will also be aired on MTV channels across multiple continents as a one-hour MAMA-themed MTV World Stage feature.

Watch event highlights here:-