Music and Postcolonial African Government

Alice Dadirai Kwaramba

This important role of political popular music did not die with the attainment of independence in many African countries. Most African governments, having realised the power of this music, used it to consolidate and legitimise their power in the initia stages of independence. For example, the government of Tanzania in 1967 appealed to popular musicians to help spread their ideas of socialism through their songs (Finnegan 1970: 298). However, with changing relationships between the governments and the people, popular music invariably continued to regulate the new social relations, constantly challenging those in power to account for their actions or lack of them. And indeed some African governments banned popular songs that challenged them. Nigeria's military government banned popular political music in 1966 in a bid to curb political unrest. More importantly, popular music continued to provide an outlet where in most cases the African governments had maintained the oppressive structures built by their colonial predecessors, so as to sustain their own hegemonic power structures.

[from Alice Dadirai Kwaramba, Popular Music and Society: The Language of Chiumurenga Music: The Case of Thomas Mapfumo in Zimbabwe. Oslo: University of Oslo, 1997. Available from Department of Media and Communications [].

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Last Modified: 6 February 2002