Gospel music sensation Dumi Mkokstad has won the much-coveted Best Gospel Song of The Year award, at the 11th SABC Crown Gospel Music Awards in Durban. He won the award for his hit, ‘uLwandle’.

Babo Ngcobo snatched the Best Gospel Artist of the Year.

The event was a night filled with glitz, glam and celebration.

Mkokstad and Ngcobo emerged victors in a stiff and aggressive campaign among the nominees.

Winners describe the contest as an aggressive one on social media.

The city’s International Convention Centre was packed with the most famous gospel artists, alongside their adoring fans. The new kids on the block, Abathandwa, surprised many by winning the best downloaded gospel song and best gospel video for their hit song ‘Umoya Wami Uyavuma.’

Founder of the Crown Gospel Music Awards, Zanele La Mbokazi-Nkambule says the awards aim to honour those artists who, without fail, continue to ensure the growth of gospel music.

“We are celebrating the 11th SABC Crown Gospel music awards. We are very affected because we see people literally from all over the continent. We are now the biggest Gospel Music Awards in the African continent and they are taking place here in Durban. For us, this is a big milestone with year’s theme we are saying #NewLevels #Siyenyuka. Gospel is the glue that is holding the nation together; gospel has the ability to drive social cohesion. Gospel has the influence and the moral landscape of our country as the world gospel powerhouse. We are very excited that our artists are a reflection of our rainbow nation.”

The crowd went wild during performances by Khaya Mthethwa, Hlengiwe Mhlaba, Abathandwa and Sipho Ngwenya.

Best Gospel Artist Award winner Ngcobo, says he is ecstatic.

“It’s been an honour. I feel so honoured that I won this award. Yes, I have been working very hard. I did not expect this and the trip as well from here to overseas and it’s been a bonus. But I trust God in every step of the way. God will decide my next action and something big is still going to happen. I do not know nothing. God knows everything. How he will take me to the next step.”

Representing the KwaZulu-Natal government, MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Sihle Zikalala says while the awards unearth talent, they also contribute to sustainable economic development.

“We commend the Gospel Powerhouse for the work they are doing in organising such events because it’s very important in ensuring the development of talent, especially among the youth, but also adds to tourism as people are coming from all over the country and continent.”

Gospel legends Lindelani Mkhize says that artists should work together and support one another.

“Let’s work together; let’s support each other. Let’s be there for one another as gospel artists.”

Another legend in the gospel music industry Dr Rebecca Malope encouraged artists to continue writing the good news to the people.

“It’s a great thing that they do of honouring those gospel artists and encouraging them to keep on preaching the word of God and that’s why they receive the awards. They are being honoured and (we) say well done and that will encourage them to keep on writing good news to the people.”

Gospel music is one of the biggest genres in the South African music industry, with several local artists gaining ground at international level.