Love Matters Music Awards: Winners announced and new live show unveiled

With 15 original songs covering everything from how we deal with rape as a society, to longing to have sex after a dry spell, young artists from Kenya battled it out in the Love Matters Music Awards, the winners of which were announced on 5 December in Nairobi.

Students from the Sauti Academy of Penya Africa were supported by an international creative team to produce songs building on themes identified as central to young Kenyans’ sexual attitudes and experience. These topics came from research led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), in collaboration with Love Matters Africa

Winner of the Judges’ Choice award was Omari with the song ‘Dot Com’, as selected by Tabu Osusa (Ketebul Records), Ikenna Azuike (What’s Up Africa), Melissa Leach (Director of IDS), Emmy Kahega (researcher) and Pei Yuxin (professor and sexologist).

‘Dot Com is a wake-up call to a perishing generation, it's a call to go and identify where we went wrong as a society and try and do something about it,’ said Omari. ‘Issues like teenage sex and pregnancy, pornography, gender violence and rape are things that have affected almost everyone in Kenya. We don't talk about them, but it's there. This is something that needs to be addressed, and change is possible.’

Helena won the public vote with the song 'Hold My Hand'.

‘This is a true story about something one of what my friends went through. When she was 14, young and naive, a guy who she thought was her friend took advantage of her and she was raped. She never told her parents about it and for a long time was afraid of being sexual with a man. I believe that music and song can be therapeutic and help people heal past hurt,’ Helena said.

 ‘I hope this song helps us talk about things we can’t talk about within society, and hold somebody else's hand.’ 

Alongside the announcement of the Love Matters Music Award winners, the participants also unveiled ‘Matters of Love: The Show’, a live and completely original multimedia production exploring expectations around love and sex, and responsibility in relationships. It addresses sensitive subjects, including gender-based violence and what constitutes good and healthy sex. It incorporates spoken word, drama, music and rap, as well as a number of the song entries for the Love Matters Music Awards itself.

The concept of the Love Matters music award and the show is based on mixed methods collaborative research. To select what young Kenyans want and need to know about sexuality researchers analysed online data on sexuality and conducted off-line focus group discussions. The researchers and creative team to identified partners and artists to take part using off-line participatory rapid appraisal methods.

Find out more

Love Matters offers young people sexual health information with a positive take on pleasure, safety and relationship satisfaction. Find out more at the Love Matters Africa website

Watch all the entries to the Love Matters Music Awards on YouTube