Sex and relationships have a big impact on young people’s lives. But for most of us, apart from pornography, getting reliable information about sexual pleasure, love, sex and relationships can be difficult: talking about these things can be a big taboo.

Which is why, Love Matters Africa  has just launched the Love Matters Music Awards: the first music awards in Kenya dedicated to providing young people the chance to produce songs on themes related to pleasure and sexuality.

Working in partnership with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), as well as East-African record label Penya, the project will bring together online activities and offline realities, culminating in a live final in Nairobi on December 5th.

During the course of the project, participants from the Sauti Academy in Nairobi will be coached by international visual artists and music producers, alongside experts on gender and sexuality from IDS and Love Matters.

The tracks the participants create will be critiqued by a panel of judges – comprising sexperts, music and media professionals – including the BBC’s What’s Up Africa Ikenna Azuike, and Tabu Osusa of Ketebul Music.

Participants will come up with original songs on themes such as sexual expectations and responsibilities, based on research undertaken by Love Matters and IDS – the latter of which is one of the world’s leading organisations for development research. They believe that sharing information about the positive aspects of sexuality, especially pleasure, can enhance the effectiveness of communicating sexual health information.

The winners of the Love Matters Awards, as chosen by the judges, will be announced online on November 20th. The top selected songs will be published and promoted on local radio stations and on global media networks. Contestants will go head-to-head in an online vote aimed to determine The Love Matters People’s Choice Award. Voting will take place on the Love Matters’ Kenya website from the end of November.

Speaking on hearing the work students showcased last week, music producer and one of the awards facilitators Arno Peeters said:

“The results were bountiful and ranged from deeply touching tear swelling outcries about rape, based on personal experiences to a humorous take on HIV testing, (female) songs about enjoying sex, and a religious take that was touching. And gosh: how these artists sound is simply amazing!”

Keep up with all the action by visiting and following the hashtag #LoveAwards