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In a beautiful written piece for the New York Times, Trevor Noah paints a picture of his childhood with his mother

An open letter to the SAMAs

2011-05-30 09:43
Dear Sama (Risa),

I have seen you grow through the years. From your humble beginnings at the then Civic Theatre in Joburg when you were just five, we became friends.

You moved to Sun City and – through careful planning, clever marketing and glitz – you became a must-see television event.

By the time you turned 12, you were a phenomenon and everyone wanted to be your friend.

You introduced the yellow carpet and everyone wanted to walk on it.

You promised your new fans, friends and followers a good time, excitement, pyrotechnics and the razzle-dazzle associated with the music industry.

And each year from then on, you delivered and proved your crowd-pleasing abilities at the Sun City Superbowl.

This year, you invited me to share in your 17th birthday celebrations at Montecasino.

You even honoured me as a judge and said I would get VIP treatment, and a decent seat in the house for my partner and I.

Why is it that after I stepped out of the Rolls-Royce with my date Khanyi Mbau, I still didn't have my tickets?

I called you countless times, I even rang your sponsor MTN and was informed it would be alright, that I would get “sorted” eventually.

Why leave it until the last minute, only to refuse me entry and send me to the freezing open-air Piazza along with all the uninvited guests who bought their way in? I’m now nursing flu, thanks to you.

Well, let me inform you that since you denied me entry, I landed an “Artist” wristband, which allowed me to walk the so-called yellow carpet (which was just a plank, really) and to see the much-hyped Sama Dome.

I ended up seated behind the stage with an unobstructed view of the band members’ bums on stage.

How awkward! To see some of the action, I had to make a 180-degree turn to watch the big screen behind me.

It was then that it hit me?...

Why do I have to subject myself to this kind of humiliation? So I stood up and walked out.

On my way, I saw musicians and record company executives, all dressed up with nowhere to sit, also heading home.

In 20 minutes, I was watching the rest of the show from the comfort of my leather couch.

The shoddy production and blunders televised left me in tears of laughter and disappointment.

I have seen the flurry of apology letters flying around from sponsors, and statements of disassociation from service providers such as Redflag and others.

The buck stops with you, Recording Industry of South Africa (Risa), since you are the custodian of the Samas.

You did a disservice not only to the people who helped bring the Samas to life but to the very fans who bought tickets and still had no seats.

How could the small matter of ticket allocation trip you up so badly?

When I was younger, planning my birthday parties with my grandmother, I understood the basics of finalising the number of friends I would invite, who would sit around the table in the dining room to watch me blow the candles and cut the cake.

It’s a staple of good party planning. If you can’t even get this right, how can we ever trust you?

Yours sincerely,


A SAMA attendee laments the poor organisation of the South African Music Awards from the inside.
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