Africa mixtape: countering oppression with hip-hop in Tanzania

Africa Mixtape: Countering Oppression with Hip-Hop in Tanzania

The Africa Mixtape is an ongoing collection of songs handpicked by SIT Study Abroad students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Today’s contribution is by Clara Moore, a University of Colorado-Boulder student and alumna of SIT Study Abroad Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology.

While studying abroad in Tanzania this past fall, I had the opportunity to study music and meet some incredibly inspiring musicians throughout my time there. One of the most popular types of music for the younger generation is hip-hop. According to the Tanzanian artist Chaba, hip-hop has long been an elevating form of expression and a creative and revolutionary counterforce to all forms of oppression.

In the early 1990s, the genre became immensely popular around the same time as the beginning of a multi-party democracy in 1992, and later the introduction of commercial radio stations in Tanzania in 1994. Tanzanian hip-hop artists produce songs with socially conscious lyrics that send direct messages to listeners, and many artists focus on making a positive impact on the younger generation of Tanzanians.

Chindo Man, aka Umbwa Mzee or Old Dog in Kiswahili, is featured in the video below.   He is one if the most influential hip-hop artists in the Arusha area of Tanzania where the SIT program is located. Chindo currently owns his own studio and a record label named Watengwa, which means outcast. He inspires and records up-and-coming hip-hop artists who come from the slums, just as he did. This is his newest song about love that wasn’t meant to be, heartbreak, and having hope for the future.

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