‘African Grammys’ hit by series of hitches

A music awards show dubbed the “African Grammys” was hit by an embarrassing series of hitches culminating in the absence Sunday of star Chris Brown and an apology by the organiser.

The show had been delayed from Saturday to enable rapper Brown to attend, with organiser Ernest Adjovi initially blaming the delay on Brown missing his flight but later saying heavy rains and other logistical hiccups were behind the postponement.

Brown finally arrived with singer Rihanna in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan on Sunday, when he was due to perform at the glitzy Kora Awards that recognise musical achievements from around the continent.

But while the Koras were going on at a luxury hotel, the US singer was a few minutes away in the national stadium performing at a much-delayed concert for “Peace in Africa.”

Benin businessman Adjovi later apologised for the numerous “dysfunctions” that had occurred during the three-hour ceremony.

R&B star Brown landed overnight in Abidjan, the Ivorian economic capital. Rihanna, who hails from Barbados, was by his side, wearing dark glasses.

The pair have a tumultuous history, and celebrity watchers obsessed about whether they are an item again after Brown admitted assaulting Rihanna in a case dating back several years.

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

Ivorian quartet Magic System won the Kora award for best African group of the year while best artiste from the continent was DJ Arafat, another Ivorian.

Chidinma from Nigeria enchanted the ceremony and won the award for best musician from west Africa, while Algerian rai singer Cheb Khaled was best north African artiste, and French rap group Sexion d’Assaut took the award for the “African diaspora” in Europe.

Chris Brown, whom fans call “Breezy”, won the US equivalent.

“Mama” Patience Dabany, former first lady of Gabon and mother of current head of state Ali Bongo, was proclaimed “woman of the year.”

Past Kora ceremonies have been attended by South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela and the late “King of Pop” Michael Jackson.

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.

But the awards have drawn fire over the price of admission, with tickets costing one million CFA francs (1,500 euros, $2,000) for a seat in the luxury hotel for the ceremony.

Such a sum is far from the reach of people in this poor west African country, the world’s top cocoa producer.

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