Stromae 6

Last post!! In my last blog post I will be discussing a broader topic as an overarching ending to my post about African history and wrapping up my close looks into Stromae and his “tous les memes” video!

As mentioned in previous post Stromae is a Belgium rapper so this post will primarily focus on war and conflict within the Congo.The Congo is one of the most written and researched countries in African post their independence because of the strong impact it had on the country. During war conflicts in the Congo aid was offered from Uganda and Rwanda however, this war caused regional conflicts rather than just conflicts between neighboring states. (Byman and Pollack 120). During this time of war the death tolls escalated due to diseases and violence of all sorts, mostly sex crimes committed by United Nations peacekeepers. When taking a closer look into the Congolese conflict, I also learned about the use of child soldiers and mass fleeing from African countries into the Great Lakes region. A source stated that more than 400,000 refugees were from the Congo alone. (Byman and Pollack 120).

Side note, I just want to talk about the impacts of mass migration on a physical, mental and emotion scale for both children and adults. The physicality of moving takes a lot of work and energy out of an individual especially considering factors such as age and/or other previous medical condition. Now onto the emotional strains migration has on a person. I see it as moving away from your culture and community and, for some the only life that they ever knew due to fear and even more fear for what the future holds for you. Lastly, let’s address the long lasting effects and high risk of mental illness these people have. I automatically think of the trauma that these people endured with being run out of there home and torn apart from their family and even what they endured during the travel from one place to another.

When I was doing some research about the Congolese conflict I couldn’t find any explicit connections between the conflict and the video, but after talking about the emotional and mentally I thought about how much of an empowered figure Stromae is, even though he or the video is not directly linked to the conflict. In this video for me, Stromae represents freedom and self agency in the video, he is not influenced by the actions of the other “characters.”

Similar to Stromae, the character in Riva in Viva Riva, that I watched for my African history course shares these similar character traits. Riva some many argue was reckless, but I would argue he lived his life on his own terms.

Check this out!!! Thank you for reading hope you enjoyed! 🙂

Byman, Daniel L., and Kenneth M. Pollack. “Democratic Republic of the Congo: A War of Massive Displacement and Multiple Interventions.” In Things Fall Apart: Containing the Spillover from an Iraqi Civil War, 120-33. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2007. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt1280fm.10.

Stromae-post 5

Welcome back!! I will be continuing my analysis on the music video “Tous le memes” by Paul Van Haver, better known by his stage name Stromae. In this post I will be talking about African music and how some scholars have noticed a shift in African traditional music to more European resembling styles. Cool right?! Maybe…

One of the key reasons why modern African music has a tint of European sounds is because of the introduction of the guitar into the continent. Scholars argue due to the distinctive sound of guitar strings listeners associate this tune with Western music (Edwards 705)Surprise! It’s not always about Westernism, but guitar is a great musical instrument that all countries and cultures can use!!! The use of the guitar is hyper focused in music from West coast of Angola to East Africa. But first…let’s talk about the evolvement of African music and what influences colonialism had on this evolvement.

First things first, for centuries, similar to oral stories, music notes in Africa were not written down or stored away. The music is usually produced based on a various of different instruments combined. Scholars who have studied African music believe, “The tuning is entirely at a sub-conscious level…when taken down and examined shows frequently that his[musician] tuning note is ‘in the cracks’ as it were!” (Edwards 705) I think, from the times I’ve listened to African music I think this is very true, the baseline of the music is very solid which gives the sound a lot more rhythm and makes it fun to both listen and dance to! I totally recommend listening!! Now that we understand this concept let’s move one to European influences in African regarding music.

 Somewhat obviously majority of European settlement is in South Africa which heavily has affected cultural life in that region. Due to major cities in South Africa like Cape Town and Durban concert life and musical festivals are more popular than smaller countries with less renown cities. (Edwards 707)

Side note, I think this is good example of the impact of globalization and I do not necessarily think that it is a bad thing that African music has incorporated the use of the guitar. I think that is the point of music, sounds and rhythms are constantly being changed and recreated for new audiences. I am not sure if this was the goal, but if African musicians were trying to reach European audiences what better way to connect with them than using a comforting and familiar sound??

Since I myself am not musically inclined that much it was hard for me to make out if the use of the guitar was present in Stromae’s video. However, the idea of the baseline being highlighted in African music is very much prominent in the music. There is singular banging of what sounds like a drum that is constantly. Even in the dance sequence in the video the dancers are dancing to that sound.

To make some connections to what I am learning in my African History film course, one movie we watched that emphasized music to me was The Wedding Party especially when the two families were walking into the reception to the music is was so evident to see the way they were moving and dancing ON BEAT. Western people could definitely take notes! 🙂

 

Let me know what y’all think. Here is where I found my information:

EDWARDS, S. HYLTON. “MUSIC IN AFRICA.” Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 103, no. 4958 (1955): 704-12. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41364728.

Stromae blog post 2

In this blog post, I will be exploring the use of fashion in the Congo, particularly involving youth and then connect my research to the music video Tous Les Memes by Stromae.

Many African youth embark upon a La Sape, which is a journey to self discovery and identity.

This voyage consists of the youth, also called the sapeurs traveling to various cities while changing into different clothes in an attempt to, “reinvent himself, to assert to both to himself and to the Other his reincarnation through a series of identities…(Ch. Didier) In the African culture, fashion also stands as a symbol for identity. In this article I learned that there are three different levels of clothing and each level corresponds with different stages is the sapeurs quest for self discovery. The first stage is known as the “real clothing” where the young individual conceals what they believe to be their own identity and take on the identity of another. (Ch. Didier). Next is the griffe, which authenticates this identity and solidifies the identity. Finally, there is the spoken clothing, which “makes the sapeur the actor and conjurer of this identity.” (Ch. Didier)  After these three stages have been completed the sape takes on a form of social skin that differentiates them from the rest of society.

I really loved reading this piece and learning the ways in which clothing heavily influences the shaping of identity in African culture. However, what I found most interesting is how in regards to clothing and identity African and American culture is very similar. During the early stages of your life, mostly everyone’s mom dresses them, then when they become about twelve or thirteen they want to start picking out their clothes because they want to form their own sense of  style. Sound familiar to anyone???? I think that’s why there are so many styles like for example there’s the preppy, gothic nerdy, hipster, etc etc. Of course people’s sense of style changes with age, like I am sure you are not dressing the same as you did in middle school when you are in high school or college. Style totally evolves as the individual becomes more aware of who they are and how they want to self identify and express. How many of you have looked at an article of clothing and been like “OMG this is totally something _________ would where” get it??

Now let’s talk Stromae!!!! In his video fashion is such a huge huge part. Throughout the video he is constantly changing clothes and taking his colored, blazer on and off. And it is also important to note the clothing that the dancers were wearing varied a lot, but were all dark colors and Stromae was wearing a bring red and black blazer that made him stand out in the crowd full of dancing people on the sidewalk. I think the blazer style and pattern was meant to represent Stromae’s identity and is what makes him stand out from others.

In my class we also talked about the Sape, but it was an all male group and it was all about FASHION FASHION FASHION!!!!!!

Check out my info!!!

Ch. Didier Gondola. (1999). Dream and Drama: The Search for Elegance among Congolese Youth. African Studies Review, 42(1), 23-48. doi:10.2307/525527

 

Stromae blog post 1

While in past blog post, I have been analyzing “Unite&Litre” by Baloji, in this post I will be introducing a new video. For my next two post I will be analyzing “Tous les mêmes” by the Belgian artist Stromae. In this post specifically, I will be discussing the history of sexuality in Africa.

Until the 1980s with the emergence of HIV/AIDS activism work, research and discussions about sexuality were few. From the 1990s to present day, scholars have liked HIV/AIDS issues to the long lasting effects of colonialism, racism, and male migrant labor. (Epprecht pg 1258). Western researchers tend to place blame on “language, epistemology, and cultural-insider secrets” for their inability to make progress in regards to  sexual health in Africa. (Epprecht pg 1258) These accusations have enraged, African leaders with good reason of course. Many of them have pushed back on the Western’s stress of African culture as the reason for increasing HIV/AIDS and responded  with the actual reason for the rising numbers which is, “economic crisis and the collapse of healthcare system”  caused by neocolonialism. (Epprecht 1259) In other words, Western researchers are using African culture as a scapegoat, and things like language barriers for the lack of research into helping with HIV/AIDS in Africa, rather than taking into account that European powers have heavily contributed to this public health issue. For instance, the raping of African women by the hands of these white European soldiers, I would argue most likely contributed to these issues as well!!!!!

When sexuality in Africa was being written about, it was written by white men who wrote about male Africans in a hypersexualize, predatory, dangerous way while African women’s “agency in sexual decision making” were left out of the narrative completely. (Epprecht 1261). When these women were included the narrative was that African women were easy and always made themselves sexually available to men. (Epprecht 1261) Authors have also used “female circumcision” as a way to frame African men’s insensitivity toward female pleasure, additionally, African women have been framed to appear to have a lack of sexual decency and shame by their exposing of breast.(Epprecht 1262).

These definitions and research of sexuality in Africa are archaic and racist. I particular chose this article to demonstrate how “Tous les mêmes” by Stromae illustrates the growth that African has made on the topic of sexuality. I think this video opens up the conversation of sexuality and fluidity, especially in Stromae’s way of fashion, use of cosmetic and hair. A more apparent visual of this is the opening scene when he is lying in bed in between a man and woman, to me this really represented Stromae’s ambiguity.

Another connection I formed while I wrote about this topic is its relation to my African History class. In this class I am learning about the effects of the IMF in African countries. Two of the major effects is the cutting of access to education and basic healthcare. I think these two are huge factors in contributing to the rise of HIV/AIDS. Not to say that people who are educated and have insurance would not catch these diseases, but being uneducated with no access to medical care puts you at a disadvantage and means you are more vulnerable to these types of medical issues.

Thank you for reading!! If you are interested in reading more here is where I got my information:

EPPRECHT, MARC. “Sexuality, Africa, History.” The American Historical Review 114, no. 5 (2009): 1258-272. http://www.jstor.org.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/stable/23303425.

 

Baloji Video podcast 1

Hey everyone! Check out Andrea and I discussing Baloji’s music video!!

 

Blog post 2

In this blog post, I will be revisiting the Unité & Litre by Baloji music video. As previously mentioned in my last post, this video mainly revolves around a woman dancing, with the artist Baloji sings lyrics relating for the colonization of the Congo. In my other post, I examined the role of dance in African culture, in this post, I will take a closer look at the role of women in the Congo.

Going centuries back to the 1880s and 1930 despite being colonized by European forces, many women worked “… as marketers and laundry women, domestics, seamstresses, teachers and artisans. Some even opened boarding houses and restaurants.” (Bay). Additionally, there were women’s groups, that would be considered modern day feminist movements in the Belgian Congo. Many feminist efforts included teaching Congolese women about hygiene and work habits; Congolese women were also trained to become nurses and teachers. (Bay).

Learning these facts surprised me so much because they completely go against the stereotypes about African women; which is to stay in domestic positions. These Congolese women were in leadership roles and respected women in society.

Looking back to Unité and Litre, it was very fitting for Baloji to use a woman as a central character in narrating the film because of how important Congolese women are to society. Similar to how there were no constrictions on women during that time period, the woman in the video dances freely and uninterrupted. I can only assume that this video appealed to Baloji’s female audience because it served as a reinforcement that women are important and can be used to tell stories. In some ways, I would say that the woman in the video also serves as a sense of empowerment and pride for the female viewers.

Now, relating all the things I have learned back to my course, African History Through Film, one aspect of history that I automatically think of when I think of these Congolese women in the film we are watching in the class, The Battle of Algiers. Although I know Congo and Algeria are completely different places, the women in the film very much resemble the history of the strong, important and empowered of the Congo. The women in this film played such key roles in this war effort. Many of them hid bombs and weapons under their clothes and others in their hair. They would then carry these weapons in popular places such as markets, and restaurants. Often times the men would get caught and need the women to carry out these tasks. Overall, Baloji’s music video reinforces how important women are in society and in many ways pre-date American feminist movements.

Thank you everyone for reading my blog! Like, subscribe and comment below! 🙂

Here is where I found some great stuff on African dance if anyone is interested.

Bay, E. (2006). Women and Social Change in Recent African History. The Journal of African History, 47(1), 171-172. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.muhlenberg.idm.oclc.org/stable/4100589

Baloji post 1

After watching Baloji’s music video, “Unité & Litre” I was particularly fascinated by the woman and her use of dance that was central throughout the video. My deeply rooted interest inspired me to take a closer look into the history of African dance and how it has evolved over time.

African dance is used to represent the different cultures that flow throughout the continent of Africa. Dance was created as a form of communication, and it was intended to be a vital aspect in an individual’s life journey. (Hanna). For example, throughout an individual’s life, one would have witnessed dance used to celebrate, “birth, young education, adult initiation, worship, work, play, and death.” (Hanna). So, upon first entry into the world, this child of African descent would soon understand and have a first hand account on how important dance is an a form of expression in the African culture.

In modern times, dance has loss its significance and role in many traditional African societies, this is result of imperialism. Dance operated  for religious and socio-economic purposes, that have shifted since colonization. A few other factors such as the rise of nationalism, and post-independence have also contributed to this alter in African tradition. (Hanna).

This definition of modern African danced surprised me when I first read it and totally contradicts the music video I saw. Baloji definitely highlights dance in this video and restores the original use of dance as an expression of African culture. Since this video was released in 2016, by Baloji, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and now a Belgian rapper, I expected to see very little dance since dance had become less of a key position in certain African societies due to imperialism, however,  Baloji totally defies the norms and reclaims the true meaning of dance in African culture. I loved being able to see the woman in the video freely dancing, and continue dancing even when the different scenes in the video changed. Another aspect of the video I admired that Baloji included was the use of the woman herself. I am wondering if the role of the woman had anything to do with gender norms in Africa at that time, or perhaps the woman dancing is meant to represent the liberation of all women. I am thinking that maybe Baloji used this woman’s role in the video to promote feminism, or another side could argue that Baloji created this video to exploit all women. I think that could make for an interesting debate, so let me know what you guys think!!

Right now I am taking a class about African History through Film. In class recently we have been discussing the decision some countries in Africa had to make on whether or not break free with colonial rules. Many countries agreed, surprisingly, to stay under the ruling, now, in current days most African countries are independent. I am assuming, of course, but maybe one key factor that contributed to the break was the longing for the return of African identity. As I mentioned earlier, imperialism changed the role of dance in African society. Africans might have grown tired of minimizing dance, something that was once so important to their ancestors, because of European control. Watching this video and learning more about African dance poses more questions than answers for me, but maybe more research and a chat with Baloji with bring me to more understanding!!

Thank you everyone for reading my blog! Like, subscribe and comment below! 🙂

Here is where I found some great stuff on African dance if anyone is interested!

Hanna, Judith Lynne. “Africa’s New Traditional Dance.” Ethnomusicology 9, no. 1 (1965): 13-21. doi:10.2307/850414.

SAIC -blog post 4

Decades after the establishment of the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), the D.F Malan’s National Party was elected in 1948. While in office, they passed new apartheid laws that was aimed to restructure the social atmosphere in South Africa. Black people were most affected by this new set of laws which, “sought to deny political representation and participation of Black people at all levels of government and which affected all sectors and all classes within the Black communities” This further attempts to limit black equally in South Africa pushed the black people to take action.(Defiance Campaign 1952).

April 6, 1952, the anniversary of Jan van Riebeeck’s arrival at the Cape in 1652, while white South Africans were celebrating victory and triumphs the South African Indian Congress urged black people to view this day as  “‘A National Day of Pledge and Prayer’” and a day for them to pray specifically for change with the justice system and laws for their country. In response to this day, members of the black community boycotted any form of celebration. Thus the Defiance Campaign was organized lead by the South African Indian Congress along with the African National Congress.

The photo below was taken during the Defiance Campaign of 1952. Hundreds of Africans stood in support, holding posters and chanting phrases and signing various types of freedom songs as leaders such as Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and Ismail Cachalia committed a “defiant act” by walking into Johannesburg without permits and staying there until after curfew. In this photo you see not just faces of black South Africans, but also Indians, who were members of SAIC and who were also being affected by the unjust laws of their country. Multiple races, as seen in the picture, joined together to fight to equality for black and brown bodies in South African. In addition, there are not just men shown in the photo, if you look closely there are a few women along with school children. This indicates that this campaign was not exclusive to South African men, but inclusive to all genders and generations of people. Moments after this photo was captured, the individuals were arrested for treason and put on a four year trial that took place during the years 1956-1960.

This movement and campaign matters because it was a moment in South African history when individuals from different backgrounds and ethnic groups came together to support the corrupt system and set of laws implemented by the white South African government to instill white supremacy and limit the success of black and brown bodies who live in South Africa. Additionally, many of the people involved in the campaign were ordinary civilizations who just wanted to make a change, even though they knew the risk of experiencing police brutality and getting arrested were high they continued to join in the fight for freedom. In my opinion, all of the people displayed in the photo embody the meaning of a freedom fighter that is being continually mentioned throughout the course.

 

If you want to know more about the Defiance Campaign 1952 check out these cool sites!

 

SAIC-blog 3

The twentieth century was a monumental time period for South Africa and its people; during this time segregation was at its peak as well as many attempts to secure white superiority and implant black inferiority as a result. Due to this rising issue, many different unions and groups began to form to try and put an end to the South African apartheid before their homeland was destroyed and separated by skin color and other various backgrounds. One group in particular that emerged during 1919 from this movement was the South African Indian Congress, also known as the SAIC. During the time of its formation, international affairs were increasing throughout South Africa. Even though the SAIC surfaced much later than other political groups, almost immediately following its initial appearance it quickly began to, “spearhead the struggle at the national level.” (South African History Online). This political groups first conference, which took place on January 26, 1919, addressed racial oppression shown towards Indians in South Africa and established itself on the platform of supporting those members in the Indian community living in South Africa.

One important member of both SAIC and the Indian community was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.The picture that is shown below that was taken during this time period is a reflection of the type of leader and prominent figure Gandhi was. He is depicted sitting down on a chair by himself with his hands folded and legs crossed and a soft smile. As previously stated, this image is a direct mirror for the life he lived. Unlike many activists during this time period who believed in justifying violence, who are also usually portrayed holding guns and fighting, Gandhi looks very peaceful and is holding no weapons and has no huge army behind him. I interpreted this image as Gandhi representing peace whether he has supporters or not. Additionally, in the picture he appears well dressed in a suit which is a direct contrast to how he is shown in present day history books, which is often in rags and torn clothes. Gandhi also has a soft smile on his face because he was kind and gave back to his community by playing the role of an activist.

This political group emerged during a time when Indians living in South Africa were undergoing racial discrimination by White supremacy. During this era Gandhi arises as a prominent figurehead and voice for those being oppressed. As mentioned in the analysis of the image, Gandhi believed in peaceful protests unlike many other revolutionary people who believed in justifying violence and murder of the oppressors. As the concept of justifying violence surfaced during my research of the South African Indian Congress I remembered how often this question comes up when talking about African Freedom Fighters throughout our course. I think that Gandhi would take the side that believes violence does not have to take place in order to fight for a cause.

 

If you’re looking for more information check out this awesome site!

 

“South African Indian Congress (SAIC).” South African History Online, 29 Nov. 2016, www.sahistory.org.za/organisations/south-african-indian-congress-saic.