Extended handshake or wrestling match? : youth and urban culture celebrating politics in Kenya

Upphovsperson: Lukalo, Fibian Kavulani
Utgivare: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet | Uppsala : Nordiska Afrikainstitutet
År: 2006
Språk: eng
Relation: Discussion Paper, 1104-8417 ; 32
Ämnesord: Kenya, urban youth, popular culture, music, politics, SOCIAL SCIENCES, SAMHÄLLSVETENSKAP
Identifikator: urn:isbn:91-7106-567-9
Rättigheter: info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
One of the factors affecting the social, political and economic situation in Africa today is the youth. Among today's African populations, there are various groups of younger people who find themselves disillusioned with the inevitable lack of political space available to them for meeting their needs. Kenya is uniquely positioned within Africa, since it has experienced relative peace and avoided major political turmoil. However, there is no question that since the early 1980s the youth have increasingly begun to agitate for political accountability from their leaders. This agitation has taken various forms, key among which were artistic expressions through music. In this way, youth carved out for themselves a niche of 'social inclusion' from which they questioned corrupt practices. These practices, by state agents, leaders and the common 'mwananchi', were intimately linked to moral decay in the society. This discussion paper addresses the varied notions of culture, politics and youth music in the Kenyan context during former President Moi's presidency. Moving away from the notion that youth activities can be equated with terror and acts of idleness, the author examines the historical centrality of music and politics in Kenya. Using imagery derived from proverbs as a basis of thinking, the author discusses the changing views of culture and identity among the youth of Kenya. To enhance the discussion, politics and the urban context serve as the basis for interrogating youth involvement through music in the political space in Kenya. Finally, the discussion presents the youth musician Eric Wainaina and discusses his use of music as an intervention into the issue of political decay and corruption. The underlying thrust of this discussion is to reflect upon and dispel the assumption that, through their music, youth in Kenya are engaged in violent activities against the state.