In a dramatic turn of events at the 29th South African Music Awards, held at the SunBet Arena in Pretoria, singer Kelly Khumalo’s reaction to her loss has ignited a firestorm in the South African music industry. Competing for the coveted Female Artist of the Year award, Khumalo was bested by gospel singer Ntokozo Mbambo, who also clinched two other awards – Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Faith Album for her album “Lavish Worship”.
Khumalo, an Afropop sensation, was also a contender in the Best Afropop Album category, which Sjava ultimately won for “Isibuko”. The defeat seemed to have hit Khumalo hard, leading to a tirade on social media. She accused the SAMAs of rigging votes and claimed that Mbambo, known for “Jehova Is Your Name”, did not deserve the win. In her posts, Khumalo declared, “Numbers don’t lie… Even Ntokozo knows that numbers don’t lie! We are not scared of her. Fuseg Samas,” exhibiting her refusal to accept the results and challenging the authenticity of the judging process.
Adding fuel to the fire, Khumalo’s remarks escalated to a broader condemnation of the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) and the award’s organizers. She accused them of orchestrating “arranged winnings” and expressed her defiance towards the entire music industry in South Africa. One notable outburst included the use of an IsiZulu expletive, underscoring the intensity of her reaction.
Contrasting sharply with Khumalo’s response, Mbambo exhibited humility and gratitude following her victories. She attributed her success to divine grace and expressed profound appreciation for her husband and producer, Nqubeko Mbatha, and her record label, Koko Records. Her speech highlighted the collaborative effort behind her award-winning album and her awe of the support and love she received, standing as stark contrast to Khumalo’s reaction.
This incident at the SAMAs not only showcases the highs and lows of the music industry’s prestigious events but also reflects the intense emotions and competitive spirit that drive artists in their pursuit of recognition and acclaim. As the dust settles, the reactions from Khumalo and Mbambo will likely continue to echo in the South African music scene, symbolizing the diverse spectrum of emotions that such competitions can evoke.