LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) - As one artist rushed the stage wrapped in Nigeria's green-and-white flag, Africa's most populous nation ran away with the awards Saturday night during the MTV Africa Music Awards.
Nigerian singer 2 Face, known for his catchy, fast-paced pop song "Implication," claimed both the artist of the year and best male performer awards during the ceremony held in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos. He also dominated during a live performance, throwing himself into the crowd and running away from two scantily clad dancers dressed as police officers.
"One love to Nigeria," the artist said as he held the golden MTV award, to the applause of the audience. His singing often includes words in the Yoruba language, heard throughout southwestern Nigeria.
National pride ran high as rapper Banky W took to the stage carrying the country's green-and-white flag, later tossing it over his shoulder during his performance. The country's musicians fared well during the ceremony - Nigerian act P Square won for Best Group, Nigerian singer Sasha won as best female performer and Nigerian rapper Mo Cheddah won for best new artist.
Among other winners were Fally Ipupa, a singer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who received the best video award for his song "Sexy Dance." U.S. rapper Eminem won best international artist, but did not attend the event.
Africa has long featured a vibrant music scene, but artists have had difficulties breaking into overseas markets. Famous African artists include Senegal's Youssou N'dour, Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti and South African impresario Miriam Makeba, who died in November 2008.
Both Makeba and Kuti's names were mentioned during the ceremony, as MTV gave an award in the South African singer's memory. Rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy recognized the tradition of music being used as a weapon against injustice, drawing a cheer when mentioning Kuti. He earlier led others in a rendition of "Fight the Power," the song ending with the artists raising closed fists into the air.
"You have everything you need right here," Chuck D said. "Recognize your legends; recognize your history."
Yet as Nigeria approaches a critical presidential election next year and corruption still pervades life, no one mentioned it in the air-conditioned comfort of the hotel ballroom where the ceremony took place.
MTV's regional music channel MTV Base reaches 48.5 million viewers across sub-Saharan Africa via satellite and local television stations.
MTV base: http://www.mtvbase.com