International Relations perspective on recent CAF awards controversies

International Relations perspective on recent CAF awards controversies
Source: Francis Kwabena ADJEI | | A Master of Arts Student in International Affairs, (LECIAD), University Of Ghana, Legon.
Date: 11-01-2018 Time: 01:01:38:am

“Theories are always for someone and for some purpose” (Robert W. Cox).

Every year, the Confederation Of African Football (CAF) organises awards to, inter alia, award those football players and football administrators, who distinguished themselves in their various fields in the course of the year. This year’s event took place right here in Ghana, in the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC). The event took place on January 4, 2018.

The CAF Awards usually come along with performances from very distinguished artistes in Africa. It was not surprising, therefore, that some distinguished artistes from Africa had to perform at the said award.

Most often, CAF insists that since these awards are African Awards, as much as possible, the artistes that perform at these awards must be a fair representation of African acts. Artistes were, therefore, chosen from Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Congo to perform. Nigerian artistes that performed were; Wizkid, Patoranking, Phyno, Flavour, Tiwa Savage, Olamide among others. Kidi and Shatta Wale were billed to perform from the Ghanaian side. The Togolese artiste was Toofan and FallyIpupa represented Congo for the performance that night. (

The AITEO CAF Awards that night eventually came to a successful end with President Akufo Addo and the President-elect of Liberia, both receiving various awards.

The event which took place on January 4, 2018, however, stirred up some controversy and dissatisfaction among many Ghanaians, both home and abroad.

Some notable Ghanaians like Gabby AsareOtchere-Darko, who is the founder of the Danquah Institute, took to Twitter, to express his dissatisfaction about how Ghanaian artistes were underrepresented during the awards.  He posited that ‘almost a perfect program at the CAF awards soiled by lack of local content: But, why they couldn’t find any Ghanaian musician, pathetic’. (

On the other hand, some people also took to social media to try to justify the dominance of Nigerians on stage that night, saying among other things that Ghanaians must not be envious or jealous of Nigerians and that they did not see anything wrong with the dominance of the Nigerian artistes.

Since ‘theories are always for someone and for some purpose’, I will try and bring my perspective to bear on this issue.

First and foremost, we should be minded that whether we like it or not, we live in a ‘self-help’ system and ‘survival’ is the ultimate (Hans Morgenthau). Again, it is worth noting that in foreign policy decision making, the interest of the state at any point in time is paramount and must be protected.  And like Niccolo Machiavelli said in his Book, the Prince and the Discourses, that there is no morality in politics, I will try and justify or otherwise whether the people crying foul have legit concerns.

The main concern as we may already know is about Nigeria’s dominance on stage during the Awards night. Nigeria presented seven artistes to perform that night ( This was in contravention to what CAF instructed the organizers of the Awards to do. I said so because, in a letter written a day after the AITEO CAF Awards night by the CAF boss, Ahmad Ahmad, CAF said it instructed the main sponsors AITEO to ‘ensure a regional balance and a strong local representation of at least two musicians from the host nation. The Ghanaian artistes billed to perform were Kidi and Shatta Wale’. (

From the above, we can say that those who think Ghana was under-represented have a case.

Ghanaian acts, Efya and Kidi would later perform because Shatta Wale could not perform because he said he was not approached well for the deal. Efya sang the Ghanaian National Anthem and Kidi performed after the event had closed and everybody was leaving the auditorium. (

Methinks this was total disrespect to the Ghanaian artiste, Kidi, seeing that he was asked to perform when the program was almost ended and everybody was leaving the auditorium. I even understand that Kidi was booked to perform only because he may have had some collaboration with Davido.

As for the Shatta Wale not being approached well (in his words) for the deal, one may attribute it to the fact that he has in recent days come strongly at some Nigerian artistes including Wizkid.

It is worth noting that the main headline sponsor for the CAF Awards, AITEO, is a Nigerian company based in Lagos and Port Harcourt and so it is obvious that their biases would be towards their own.

Gregory Ankrah, who works with BookMe World Agency alleged that ‘even the person sharing the water was Nigerian’. He continued by saying that he was constantly reminding the production crew about when his Ghanaian artistes would be on stage and the production crew kept telling him that the artistes would be on stage soon (

I will not sit here and blame the AITEO Group for the way and manner in which they conducted themselves because in foreign policy, the interest of the state (in this case, the company) comes first before any other interest. This is not in any way a justification for what AITEO Group did. I am only saying that the average Ghanaian loves to promote somebody else’s rather than his own. This should, however, be a wake-up call to Ghanaian companies to learn to sponsor and also project and promote their own if need be.

Normally, Ghanaians should have been represented more because they are the host of the program and it is only fair that way but we saw Nigeria presenting as many as seven artistes and some Ghanaians felt disrespected by this act. In my view, these Ghanaians are right by expressing their disgusts and all but they should remember what Niccolo Machiavelli said about morality not having a place in politics. The Nigerians at the end of the day knew what they wanted and so fought for it. They sponsored the program and dominated it with their acts. It’s that simple.

My point is that the Nigerians didn’t do us right. Yes, they ‘disrespected’ us by not signing our very own artistes that we so much cherish and literally worship but truth be told, the world system we operate is about survival of the best adapted (Charles Darwin) and so if you want something, the literature says you have to fight for it and that’s exactly what the Nigerians did; They fought for what they wanted.

The damage has already been caused. AITEO Group has issued an apology to Shatta Wale. The President of CAF says he is demanding an explanation from the organizers of the program as to why things went the way they did among other things, etc. etc.

I would conclude by saying that though the Nigerians sponsored the awards and so dominated it with their own as against our own, as Ghanaian as I am, my biases will always be towards my people because this is the only country I have, at least for now. Hence this urgent need to defend and uphold its image high, hence my verbosity.