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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Youth lyrics, street language and the politics of age: contextualizing the youth question in the Third Chimurenga in Zimbabwe
Author:Mate, RekopantsweISNI
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1465-3893)
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
popular music
generation conflicts
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03057070.2012.642722
Abstract:Debates about the effects of the 'cultural nationalism' that has accompanied the so-called 'Third Chimurenga' in Zimbabwe since 2000 often portray youth as pawns of officials - for example, as national youth service trainees or as government sponsored artists - rather than as among the worst affected by recent developmental crises, who are struggling against the odds to survive. Yet concern about youth restlessness did, in part, lead to policies, such as the requirement of '75 percent local content' for public broadcasters, which created opportunities for youth action and led, in turn, to the development of a new musical style known as 'urban grooves'. However, in 2007, Zimbabwean public radio and television banned the airplay of certain 'urban grooves' songs because of their unsavoury lyrics. This article analyses the lyrics of these songs in order to argue that together, the songs' lyrics, and their ban from airtime, point to emergent intergenerational tensions. Some of these tensions revolve around emerging forms, uses and meanings of vernacular languages. Whereas the 75 percent local content policy imposed by the government in 2001 envisaged an anti-imperialist popular culture through the use of vernacular languages and local media products, youths used vernacular languages to highlight intergenerational sex differences in heterosexual behaviour. They used street language not ordinarily accessible to adults to deliver an incisive critique of adult sexual excesses. As observed elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, not only do the banned songs provide an insight into youth subjectivities amidst the social contradictions of Zimbabwe's socioeconomic and political crises, they also illustrate how popular music can be a form of civic participation. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]