Anth 100.Perullo.Hooligans and Heros.2005

Anth 100.Perullo.Hooligans and Heros.2005 - Hooligans and...

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Hooligans and Heroes: Youth Identity and Hip-Hop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Alex Perullo Africa Today, Volume 51, Number 4, Summer 2005, pp. 75-101 (Article) Published by Indiana University Press DOI: 10.1353/at.2005.0045 For additional information about this article Access provided by University of British Columbia Library (26 Sep 2013 15:35 GMT)
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Hooligans and Heroes: Youth Identity and Hip-Hop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Alex Perullo During the 1990s, the rise in popularity of hip-hop culture in Tanzania brought increased public scrutiny of urban youth due, in part, to preconceived notions of youth culture and rap music. In newspaper articles and public discourses, youth were quickly targeted and labeled hooligans (wahuni), and often associated with words such as violent, hostile, and dis- ruptive. Youth used music to combat these stereotypes and project images of themselves as creative and empowered indi- viduals in society. In this article, I examine the ways that youth use rap music to confront stereotypes of young people, and reach the broader listening public through politically and socially relevant lyrics. Using transcriptions of lyrics and interviews with artists, I argue that youth have turned a foreign musical form into a critical medium of social empowerment whereby they are able to create a sense of community among other urban youth, voice their ideas and opinions to a broad listening public, and alter conceptions of youth as hooligans. Introduction In a letter to The East African , an anonymous author wrote about the “youth time bomb” that existed in Dar es Salaam. Lamenting the problems of youth in Tanzania and the difficulties they have leaving the country for more opportunities, he writes, “What, after all, is there to live for at home? Jobs have disappeared in the wake of economic liberalization. . . . An army of petty hawkers has emerged, and drug dealing and crime have soared.” He continues by stressing that places such as Dar es Salaam are social time bombs, where youth are on the verge of exploding with anger and disorder. The pressures of living in Tanzania have caused young people to use any means to survive ( The East African 1999).
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africa TODAY HOOLIGANS AND HEROES 76 In examining the pressures that youth encounter daily, it may seem logical to assume that youth are on the verge of exploding through violence and disorder. In Dar es Salaam, a city of 3.5 million people, unemployment fi gures among the general population are estimated to be from 13 to 40 percent and potentially higher among young people, many of whom—even some who have an education—work menial jobs, sit on street corners wait- ing to be hired, or search the city for employment. 1 For those fortunate enough, families provide support until jobs materialize; for others, however, problems with hunger, corruption (being forced to pay bribes to police), and inadequate social institutions can make the city unbearable (Lugalla 1995; Moyer 2003; Tripp 1997).
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