MTV EMA Best African Act: The 10 artists to have ever won it

The 2019 edition of MTV Europe Music Awards (MTV EMAs) took place on November 3rd in Seville, Spain.

The awards show saw Burna boy beat Teni (Nigeria), Harmonize (Tanzania), Nasty C (South Africa), Prince Kaybee (South Africa) and Toofan (Togo) to become the latest recipient of the highly coveted MTV EMA Best African Act Award.

The win makes Burna Boy the 10th artist and the 5th Nigerian to have ever won the award since the inception of the category in 2005.

So, we think this is a good time to remind you of all the artists that have ever won the Best African Act at the MTV EMAs.

So here we go, a rundown of the artists that have won the MTV Europe Music Award for Best African Act.

From the most recent down to the very first.

10. Burna Boy (MTV EMA Best African Act 2019)

Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu who goes by the stage name ‘Burna Boy‘ is a Nigerian singer and songwriter. He had his breakout in the Nigerian music industry in 2012 after the release of Like to Party; the lead single from his debut album titled L.I.F.E.

Poster showing Burna Boy as the winner of MTV EMA Best Africa Act

2019 has, beyond any iota of doubt, been a very rewarding year for Burna Boy.

He was announced on the 3rd of January as one of the artists performing at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and two days later (5 January) he won four awards at the Soundcity MVP Awards.

Burna Boy also won the BET Best International Act Award in June; he got announced as Apple Music’s Up Next artist in July; got featured on Beyonce’s Lion King album in that same July just before he dropped his wave-making African Giant album. An album that sits on a solid foundation of back to back hit singles like Gbona, On the low, Dangote, Killin Dem, Anybody and Pull up and other great songs that highly notable figures like Elton John, Joe Budden, GQ, Complex and many others had publicly endorsed.

At the moment, Burna Boy has got featured on many of the prestigious US TV shows that many other African artists are only dreaming of; one of his songs titled Anybody also got featured on Ballers, a popular American TV series.

The African Giant is currently busy selling out venues after venues on his headlined Europe Tour.

No doubt, 2019 has been a very great year for Burna Boy. It would have been a shocker if he had lost that award to any one of the other nominees. This is not to say that the other nominees didn’t have a good year as well, but the difference between Burna’s race and theirs is evident enough for any ‘Stevie Wonder’ to see.

Meanwhile, you can check out the full list of 2019 MTV EMA winners.


9. Tiwa Savage (MTV EMA Best African Act 2018)

Tiwatope Savage, professionally known as Tiwa Savage, is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and actress. After graduating from the renowned Berkeley College of Music in the UK she moved back to Nigeria and joined Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records in 2012. In May 2019, she announced her record deal with Universal Music Group and exit from Mavin Records.

Tiwa Savage won the Best African Act at the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards.  She beat fellow Nigerian Davido, Distruction Boyz (South Africa), Fally Ipupa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Nyashinski (Kenya) and Shekinah (South Africa) to clinch the award. In the process, she became the 9th winner of the award, the 4th Nigerian and the only female artist to have ever won the award.

Tiwa surely had a good year in 2018.  That was the same year she got featured on Vogue’s World 100: These Are The People Who Are Inspiring Us Right Now. 2018 was also the year her debut headlined UK show at the Indigo at the O2 Arena was sold out. It was the same year she beat other tough nominees including Davido to make history as the first female to be awarded Best African Act at the MTV EMAs. Furthermore, it was the same year she shared the stage with powerful international acts like Ed Sheeran, Beyonce and Jay Z at the Global Citizen Festival in South Africa in celebration of the centenary of Mandela’s birth. Tiwas Savage also sealed the year on a high note after she got featured in the December edition of British Vogue. Certainly, she deserved to be named the Best African Act at the 2018 MTV EMAs.


8. Davido (MTV EMA Best African Act 2017)

David Adedeji Adeleke, professionally known as Davido is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and record producer. He rose to limelight in 2011 following the release of Dami Duro; the second single off of his debut album O.B.O in 2012.

Davido won the Best African Act at the 2017 MTV EMAs. He beat Wizkid, Babes Wodumo (South Africa), C4 Pedro (Angola), Nasty C (South Africa) and Nyashinski (Kenya) to the award and became the 8th artist and the 3rd Nigerian to win it.

2017 was a good year for Davido. That was when he released the back to back hit singles If, Fall and FIA.

It was released in February and immediately went viral across social media platforms and the mass media platforms within a matter of days. The song was so welcomed that even R. Kelly had to record his version of the song, which eventually led to his collaboration with Davido to record the official remix of the song.

In June, Davido released Fall, which was another smash hit that spread like Ebola on the streets and in the club’s and finally went on to become the longest-charting Nigerian pop song in Billboard history and was named the 163rd best song of the 2010s by Pitchfork. ‘FIA’ also became a hit as soon as it was released later in that same year.

In that same year, Davido also won the Best African Act at the MOBO Awards and was also the first African Act to perform live at the award show.


7. Ali Kiba (MTV EMA Best African Act 2016)

Ali Saleh Kiba is a Tanzanian singer-songwriter and footballer. He released his Cinderella album which broke the record as the best selling album in Eastern African countries in 2008. He is famous for hit songs such as Aje and Cinderella, and also for his collaboration with R. Kelly and other African musicians on the One8 project.

Ali Kiba beat other super nominees like Nigeria’s Wizkid, Black Coffee (South Africa), Casper Nyovest (South Africa) and Olamide (Nigeria) to clinch the MTV EMAs Best African Act in 2016. That year’s award actually had some drama due to human error.

The award was initially given to Wizkid by error, only to be recalled later that year and awarded to Ali Kiba after the results of the votes that made it to the public revealed that Ali Kiba was actually the person who got the highest number of votes. These things happen, we surmise.

In 2016, Ali Kiba also won about 15 other awards apart from the MTV EMAs Best Africa Act; including WANNA Music awards (France) where he won in the People’s Choice category, Soundcity Awards where he received the Video of The Year Award, BEFFTA Awards where he won the Best African Act and Video of The Year, East Africa TV Awards where he won in the Best Male Artist, Song of The Year and Video of The Year categories.


6. Diamond Platnumz (MTV EMA Best African Act 2015)

Nasibu Abdul Juma, professionally known as Diamond Platnumz, is a Tanzanian artist, dancer and businessman. He became the first African artist to get 2,520,778 subscribers on YouTube and he is considered to be one of the highest income-earning artists in the African Great Lakes region’s music industry.

Diamond won the MTV EMAs Best African Act in 2015. He beat other heavyweight champs like Nigeria’s Davido and Yemi Alade as well as AKA (South Africa) and DJ Arafat (Ivory Coast) to the award. He also won the Best World Act (Africa/India) that same year.

2015 was surely a good year for Diamond Platnumz. He was the biggest winner at that year’s edition of AFRIMMA; bagging the Best Male Artist (East Africa), Video of The Year and the ultimate trophy for African Artist of The Year. He also won the MAMA (MTV Africa Music Awards) for Best Live Act and many other awards.


5. Sauti Sol (MTV EMA Best African Act 2014)

Sauti Sol is a Kenyan afro-pop band consisting of Bien-Aime Baraza, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi and Polycarp Otieno.

Sauti Sol beat Davido, Goldfish, Diamond and Toofan to win the MTV EMAs Best African Act in 2014.

Apart from the MTV EMAs Best African Act, the band also won several awards in that year including a Google Recognition Award for The Most Watched Music Video on YouTube in Kenya and OLX Social Media Awards for the Best Use of Social Media and Artist of The Year. The band also got nominated on various awards including MAMA (Best Group), BEFFTA Awards (Best International African Act), and Channel O Music Awards (Most Gifted East African).


4. Locnville (MTV EMA Best African Act 2013)

LCNVL is a South African duo formed by identical twin brothers, Andrew and Brian Chaplin. They are both singer-songwriters, song producers, musicians and multi-instrumentalists.

In 2013, They benched Wizkid, P-Square, Fuse Odg and  Mafikizolo to grab the MTV EMA for Best African Act in 2013.

In that same year, they were also nominated for the MTV Africa Music Award (MAMA) in the Best Pop category and they performed as the opening act for Justin Bieber’s tour.


3. D’Banj (MTV EMA Best African Act 2012 & 2007)

Oladapo Daniel Oyebanjo, known by his stage name D’banj, is a Nigerian musician, singer, songwriter, rapper, entrepreneur and TV personality with several awards under his belt including the Best-selling African Artist award at the 2014 World Music Awards.

D’Banj is the only artist to have ever won the MTV EMAs Best African Act twice. In 2007, he benched the likes of Chameleone, Hip-hop Pantsula, Jua Cali, Samini and Big Pin to grab the award, making him the last winner to win the award before organisers it in favour of the MTV Africa Music Awards starting in 2008.

Coincidentally, D’banj’s was also the first person to win the MTV EMAs (Best African Act) after the award category was reinstated in 2012. At the time, he flogged Wizkid, Mi Casa, Sakordie and Camp Mulla to grab it.

D’Banj was undoubtedly one of the hottest artists across Africa between 2007 and 2012. The music industry seemed to be his jungle during that era. In 2007, everywhere scattered when he dropped Why Me, a song that became a virus on the street and in the clubs. The video for Why Me won the Best Special Effects Video at the 2007 Channel O Music Video Awards, the song was The Song of The Year at the Headies Awards. No doubt, D’Banj won more awards than any other African artist between 2007 and 2012. Between 2007 and 2012 alone, D’Banj had more than 70 nominations and over 25 awards.

In 2012, his song Oliver Twist was just everywhere! Signed to Kanye’s G.O.O.D music, the song was a massive hit. He got about 13 of those 70+ nominations in just 2012 alone and won about 5 of them. These were not just some anyhow awards. So yeah, D’Banj was really the king of the African music turf during this period.


2. Freshlyground (MTV EMA Best African Act 2006)

Freshlyground is a South African band. The members have different backgrounds including South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Freshlyground artists

Freshlyground performing for World Cafe in Cape Town, South Africa. They beat P-Square, Nameless, Juma Nature and Anselmo Ralph to the MTV EMAs Best African Act in 2006.

They are most famous for their collaboration with Shakira on “Waka Waka” which received a massive worldwide recognition with over 2 billion views on YouTube.


1. 2face Idibia (MTV EMA Best African Act 2005)

Innocent Ujah Idibia popularly known by his stage name 2Baba (until 2014, his stage name was 2face Idibia), is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist. 2Baba is regarded as one of the most decorated and successful Afropop artists in Africa.

The Best African Act was introduced to the MTV EMA in 2005 and 2face Idibia crushed Kaysha, kleptomaniax, 02 and Zamajobe to bring the trophy home to Nigeria, making him the first person to have ever won the award.

2Baba is, no doubt, a legend. Here is one of the things Wikipedia says about him:

“Innocent ‘2Baba’ Idibia is Africa’s most decorated and awarded artistes. 2Baba has received one MTV Europe Music Award, one World Music Award, five Headies Awards (Hip-hop award), four Channel O Music Video Awards and one BET award for his musical work, four MTV Africa Music Awards, one MOBO award, one KORA award, 3 Afrima Awards, and numerous additional nominations.”

Final Words…

So, there are 10 recipients of the MTV EMAs Best African Act so far. The first person to win the award is 2face Idibia, the only person to have won the award twice is D’Banj, the first female to win the award is Tiwa Savage, the latest person to win the award is Burna Boy and the other winners are Davido, Ali Kiba, Diamond, Sauti Sol, Locnville, and Freshlyground.

We hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as we enjoyed writing it. Don’t forget to share reactions in the comment section. Also, share the article with your social circle.

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