Popular Music, New Media, and the Digital Public Sphere in Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, and Nigeria

  • George Ogola
  • Anne Schumann
  • Michael Olutayo Olatunji
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Series in International Political Communication book series (PIPC)


In many parts of Africa, successive governments have historically either monopolized or manipulated public spaces for popular expression. New “spaces of freedom” have consequently been forged and fashioned around popular cultural forms. Denied space in public sites of communication, alternative narratives have found expression in popular music, dance, drama, and other formats. These popular cultural forms often provide spaces for political engagement and remain strategic spaces for dissent. But these forms are not exclusively a province of either the subaltern or of subversion. In many countries, they are exploited by both the subaltern and the potentate. Thus shared, they simultaneously contest domination and affirm it. Indeed, it is this dialectical but contradictory relationship that informs concepts such as Achille Mbembe’s idea of “mutual zombification” in the postcolony. From a comparative perspective through our study of Yabis music in Nigeria, Zouglou in Cote d’Ivoire, and variants of hip-hop music in Kenya, such as Genge and Kapuka, we seek to demonstrate how popular music articulates political processes and how musicians now exploit the opportunities new media provides. The exercise of power in Africa is in many ways a performance, one contested and affirmed best in a popular social grammar lived by the subaltern and captured most eloquently by popular music.


Political Engagement Popular Music Musical Genre Political Class Black Panther Party 
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Copyright information

© Okoth Fred Mudhai, Wisdom J. Tettey, and Fackson Banda 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Ogola
  • Anne Schumann
  • Michael Olutayo Olatunji

There are no affiliations available

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