Gabon’s political force is its thriving hip-hop scene

Alice Aterianus-Owanga, University of Lausanne In Gabon as in other African states, rap has become instrumental in constructing political identity. On August 17, Gabon celebrated 57 years of independence with a massive free concert in the capital, Libreville. The aim: to promote national unity in a festive fashion. An impressive lineup of local hip-hop stars …

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The Blue Notes: South Africa’s first generation of free jazz

Gwen Ansell, University of Pretoria “We were all kind of rebels,” drummer Louis Tebogo Moholo-Moholo recalls, “so, like birds of a feather, [we] flocked together.” South African trumpeter, Marcus Wyatt. Muntu Vilakazi/Sunday Times   He’s talking about the Blue Notes, a multiracial modern jazz outfit formed in Cape Town in the early 1960s. White composer …

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Award-winning South African punk-rock documentary is back

Liani Maasdorp, University of Cape Town An award-winning documentary about the iconic South African Afrikaans punk-rock band Fokofpolisiekar (Afrikaans for “fuck off police car”) made nearly 10 years ago is back on screen; this time on the small screen. The band, which was formed in 2003, was instrumental in articulating the disillusionment and rebellion of …

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Papa Wemba: musical king of the Society of Ambianceurs and Elegant People

Thomas Salter, University of Edinburgh Sadly, we have lost another great of Congolese music – Papa Wemba. Papa Wemba was born Shungu Wembiado in 1949. He came to musical prominence in the great beating heart of Congolese popular music, Kinshasa’s famous district of Matonge in the 1970s during the belle époque of Congolese popular music. …

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The marginalised African Songbird who finally became visible again

Robin Kelley, University of California, Los Angeles In 1948, the National Party came to power in South Africa and immediately implemented legislation intended to weaken struggles for social democracy, labour rights and racial equality. These apartheid laws further codified racial segregation and severely limited rights of black people in the country. There was no room …

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