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Chris Brown headlining 'African Grammys'

2012-12-29 21:20
Chris Brown
Abidjan - Abidjan was the capital of African music on Saturday as the Ivorian metropolis hosted the Kora Awards to recognise the continent's best artists, with star American rapper and heartthrob Chris Brown headlining the event.

The award extravaganza, which originated in South Africa in 1994, is dubbed the "African Grammys".

Past editions have been attended by Nelson Mandela and the late "king of pop" Michael Jackson.

Brown, known as much for his virtuoso dance steps as for his tumultuous relationship with singer Rihanna, whom he admitted assaulting, will stage a concert in Abidjan's main sport stadium on Sunday along with several African artists including the Nigerian duo P-Square, who won the last top Kora prize in Ouagadougou.

For Ivory Coast, which is still recovering from four months of post-election violence that ended in April 2011 after claiming some 3 000 lives, the event signals a return to normalcy.

However, it has drawn criticism over the price of admission: one million CFA francs for those who want a seat in the luxury hotel for the ceremony, or 50 000 CFA francs for seats outside.

"Scandal" screamed a headline in Notre Vie (Our Life), the newspaper of former president Laurent Gbagbo - who sparked the 2010-11 crisis by refusing to concede defeat in presidential elections won by Alassane Ouattara.

These prices, far out of reach for most people in the poor west African country, "are no less than insults hurled in the face" of Ivorians, the opposition paper said.

Some 30 trophies will be awarded, with singer Patience Dabany, the "mama" of African music and the mother of Gabonese President Ali Bongo, expected to receive a lifetime achievement award.

Frontrunners for best African group are Abidjan's own Magic System, Toofan from Togo and Malaika of South Africa.

Brown is in the running for best male artist of the American diaspora, while French rappers Sexion d'Assaut are tipped for the European diaspora category.

Brown was sentenced to five years probation, a year-long domestic violence programme and 180 days of community labour after pleading guilty to assaulting Barbadian singer Rihanna on the eve of the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in 2009.
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