(Kenyan TV Host Amina)
By Kanyingi Kuria
Many times when the world is facing crises of whatever nature, we find relief in the arts, in music and or in the entertainment space because historically, such platforms are rarely affected but not anymore-especially with the current situation.
The coronavirus pandemic is here with us and at the initial stages when the first cases were being reported across the globe, there was a frenzy. Businesses halted, people lost jobs, and economies started declining which came as a result of some of the measures installed to contain the virus.
However, almost unknown to many, not just bars or restaurants or sports stadiums or schools and churches closed but also the much adored internationally-recognized ceremonies in music, art and fashion.
Luckily, some major events had already taken place, for instance, the Oscars that saw some famous figures such as actor Brad Pitt and singer Elton John win. The Grammys, too, whose viewership goes beyond America and gets to us here at home, had also luckily been held.
Termed as the music’s biggest night, the Grammys escaped the coronavirus disrupt. This could have been because the event is usually among the first entertainment ceremonies to be held at the start of every year. At its happening, the pandemic was still unheard of in many parts of the world other than in China where reported cases were minimal thereby raising little or no global alarm.
Another awards ceremony that’s usually hyped around the world is the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film & Television) which was rescheduled from the spring period onto September 31st for what the event organizers said it will be a socially distant show. Closely related to the awards show is the production of several television hit series and films that have had to be put on hold due to the corona crisis.
The new trend of earlier planned events is turning out to be the rescheduling to later dates, usually months later on with the hope that things will have gotten better. A big number of the yearly events we follow and attend are still dated but the possibility of them occurring is unknown.
The BET Awards, for instance, have been dated for June 29th, which falls on a Monday, and even though they are yet to be officially cancelled, they just might not be held. And with their involvement and recognition of talent from the African continent in recent years, they will surely be missed by fans especially those in Africa itself.
Closer home, The Africa Viewer’s Choice Awards – at times popularly known as the Oscars of Africa had already been held. Yes, the ceremony that was held shortly before the covid-19 wave hit Africa hard, saw some of our Kenyan actors and actresses get nominated and actually winning. But other local and regional film awards events were scheduled but never aired because of the coronavirus disrupt.
Onto music, renowned singers have cancelled concerts and world tours. Mariah Carey, for example, announced the rescheduling of her Hawaii concert to November, later this year, via a tweet. The same applied to Canadian singer, Justin Bieber who also announced the cancellation of his upcoming tour dates on twitter, citing that “in light of the current public health crisis” he would not be going ahead with his tour. Other celebrated music artists who have cancelled their tours include Alicia Keys, Madonna, Ciara, The Jonas Brothers, among others.
Our very own Kenyan all-boy famous band, Sauti Sol called off their UK tour and replaced it with a YouTube concert which too got cancelled due to the rising coronavirus cases. In a statement, the band said that they were prioritizing the needs for their families’ and friends’ safety, as well as that of their band members. However other Kenyan artists such as veteran rapper Juliani, have since staged live concerts on Instagram to connect with their audience.
Local singers in their bid of addressing topical issues have composed music themed around the crisis. Kenyan singer, Otile Brown recently released a new record talking of how quarantine has distanced people and goes on to urge people to continue observing precautions such as washing hands. Ugandan pop star and politician, Bobi Wine has also recorded a song meant to beat the virus.
In the fashion arena, different fashion show cases got cancelled and topping the list is Met Gala- the luxurious, and exclusive annual fashion exhibit that fundraises towards the Costume Institute in the US. This year’s edition got cancelled from May 19th and moved to next year.
Other notable social events that have taken the blow are festivals and extravaganzas such as the Kenyan Cake Festival. Usually held at the Carnivore Grounds, Nairobi, the regional event usually held annually, in early June to celebrate bakers from across East Africa will unfortunately not take place this time.
Now, as the world dedicates its resources and comes together towards getting a quick global resolution to this disease, hopes are set high that not only will such art, music and fashion events return but the economy will as well be revived.