Pop cultural music in Sierra Leone, is creating social change and a new political identity for its youth From the over capacitate concert halls in the energetic urban centers of Sierra Leone to the front lawns of its parliament buildings in Freetown, forward looking Sierra Leona youth are making use of their newly founded freedoms of expression, which came to being in the aftermath of the nation’s brutal civil war to create social change. In these vibrant communities you can hear musicians and average citizens alike advocating for social change through the revolutionary content found in their USIA such as: “It is time to change.
Sierra Loaners, change your attitude. The eye is watching. It’s time to turn over a new page. Not time to damage, but time to manage. ” (Tucker Obama 9) This is an example off popular chant which would be heard from supporters of the ousted opposition party who are keen on reminding their newly elected government leaders of the neglected promises that were made during the elections and to be attentive to the concerns of its citizens or else prepare to be voted out.
In this paper I will argue why Pop-cultural music in Sierra Leone, is reading social change and a new political identity for its youth. This topic is important because it helps to build an understanding of why marginalia youth are at the forefront of social change in Sierra Leone and how through pop cultural music they do not have to be directly involved in the government to have a direct effect on its policies.
In my paper I address these critically unacknowledged issues and more by analyzing how advances in media and digital technology have allowed urban youth music to become more accessible to the public, how youth are creating a new identity for themselves by expressing their political views through non-violent means such as musical content, how youth have found an increase of public spaces to conduct their freedom of expressions in post-civil war Sierra Leone and why the emergence of Islamic hip-hop music is so appealing to youth.
Due to advances in media and digital technology pop cultural music has become more accessible allowing it to reach the masses. Sierra Lens’s postwar youth music revolution was birthed by bringing in technical skills and encouraging youth to rap in local engages to beats that encompassed a mix of dance styles from around the Black Atlantic. This new social trend is said to have begun in 1999 when Jimmy Bangui, (32) otherwise known as the father of modern pop culture in Sierra Leone returned home.
What is important is that he had brought with him a mixture of new techniques and equipment which he had acquired during his lengthy music tours to the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa, which he immediately began to teach to the younger generations of artists. Non-Government Organizations (MONGO) also played a hand in this musical revolution by financing musical events and Pop Cultural Music in Sierra Leone, is Creating Social Change and a New Political Identity for Its Youth By beriberi coming artist’s talent would flourish.
While troubled youth who were former civil war insurgents formed new cultural identities for themselves in the urban cities such as Freetown, others found social advancement abroad by working with No’s or being scouted to perform in musical events abroad. Therefore Sierra Lens’s pop cultural music revolution has created social change by giving youth new a means of getting heir message across through advances in technology in their music and a new political identity for its youth who are listening to those messages of hope and change off of their mobile phones and social media.
Fuelled by mobile phones, digital media and the Internet, contemporary Sierra Leona artists use their outward-looking music culture and an increasingly integrated global market of pop consumption, to show their desires for the good life and its material wealth. Similar to the rapid pace of change during the era of decentralization, advances in digital technology have brought remarkable changes to coal cultures in a short period of time. For example it has only been two years since Sierra Leone has received broadband internet in 2012 (9).
Since then social media websites such as Backbone, Twitter and the weights video outlet Youth have become the dominant means of self-promotion for young Sierra Leona artists looking to make it big main stream. Although the connection between Sierra Loaner’s and their increasing connectivity to the World Wide Web hasn’t been all good. The global market and losses of CD sales due to illegal downloading of music inline has forced many popular Sierra Leona pop artists and media creators to leave the country to seek their fortunes elsewhere in countries like the United States.
These countries are where artists foreign to its culture are acquiring their new westernizes desires for the good life and material wealth. For example in an uploaded Youth video, popular Sierra Leona hip hop artist L. A. J. Is having a discussion with a sales man in a U. S. Antique car dealership about his careless spending habits, while looking at the reflection of his gold plated wrist watch through the mirror of a noticeably expensive car.
Therefore due to the free for all of information passing through Sierra Leone as a result of the advances in digital technology and the messages being advertised in the music of artist as seen above, it is no wonder why there is a new youth cultural identity emerging in Sierra Leone that is fixated on the allure of westernizes material wealth. Coinciding with messages of the good life youth in Sierra Leone are also creating a new identity for themselves by expressing their political views through musical lyrics.
Through these lyrics young people have become indirectly involved in their overspent by addressing some of the central issues of their 2007 national election. The significance of this election was that it was the first election held in the country where citizens could vote electronically. Some of the main concerns that youth have drawn political attention to and are still visualizing through their music are concerns of corruption of the ruling party, and lack of opportunities for youth advancement.
These songs of hope and change can be heard in public places such as transport terminals, markets, and parties, where they have become a major way of sparking up investigations about how to advance political policies in the countries future and the role that youth will play in it. Youth are also creating a new identity for themselves genre in other nations such as the United States and United Kingdom.
Although sierra Leona youth do share some of the same struggles as American hip-hop artist such as Tuba Shaker and public enemy, who both wrote about the injustices of their societies in the U. S. , I argue that there is still a distinct musical identity for youth in Sierra Leone. Pop cultural music in urban cities like Freetown is being seen ore frequently as a indirect form of Journalism, where people get together and sing along telling the realistic stories of their streets often before the press and government officials even hear wind of it.
In the article Pop Culture, Youth and Politics, the author Susan Suppler describes young people’s artistic expression “as a novel which engages in the national political discourse, by often the creation of an oppositional identity. ” What is important here is that pop-cultural music being listened to or sang in the streets of Sierra Leone is creating social change while at the name time creating a new global identity for its youth.
Sierra Leona youth have also found themselves in the aftermath of the countries civil war (1991-2002) with an increasing measure of public spaces opening to freedom of expression, where they are now promoting social change through their music. This new freedom has created opportunities for young people to articulate their views and influence political decision making, by employing strategies such as advocating for a legal framework that supports free expression, engaging in media training and civic-education campaigns.
This new democratic means of free expression has not only encouraged but given youth a new sense of entitlement to actively participate in elected councils, legislature and a multitude of civil organizations, therefore at this point making it relatively hard to ignore the concerns of young people when they are the present and future members of government. As a result of this increase in freedom of expression, poor and uneducated youth in Sierra Leona have become well informed of the democratic freedoms they have been deprived of, through westernizes music and other forms of increasing social media.
Urban youth although vastly unemployed are not ignorant, as a result of increased freedom of expression and social media websites like Twitter they are now able to keep up to date with changing democratic developments in other parts of the world such as the United States and Canadian systems of government which work for the wellbeing of all its citizens not Just the supporters of the group in power.
In the article Africa Today the author Spencer Sylvan contends that “these songs have much more than an entertainment value, they demonstrate a capacity to captivate public attention, shape public opinion, rather civic education, and even mobile popular support (10). ” A prime example of this occurred in 2007 in Sierra Leone, during their electoral campaigns, party owned radio stations would only play songs from certain artist who were in support of their party.
The content of these songs often slandered the names of opposition parties and their leaders, while crowds chanted and listened to the lyrics in bars and from large speaker boxes hooked up to car radios on the streets. Through public places like those where freedom of expression was permitted, even the poor and uneducated youth of the country could hear and understand the political atmosphere through connecting with the music.
The emergence of Islamic hip-hop music is appealing to youth through religious content at home in Sierra Leone and of Black Nationalism (Islamic groups), have resulted in a strong appeal to the marginalia minority youth population living in low-income urban neighborhoods (Aid Hashish 5). During and after the Reagan-Bush era in America, urban dwellers (more specifically African Americans) began to feel neglected and isolated by their government.
In the absence of government funded institutions troubled youth began ruining to religion for moral guidance in their neighborhoods. In America some Blacks and Latino felt failed by the Christian faith and detached from political- cultural western traditions, while in Sierra Leone many youth turned to the positive messages behind Islamic music (hip-hop) as an alternative fixture for the downfalls of their government.
Much of the content behind Islamic hip-hop music in centered on political injustices, community solidarity and black empowerment, such as the following: “Some say I’m too deep, I’m in too deep to sleep, through me Muhammad ill forever speak. Greet brothers with handshakes in ghetto landscapes, where a man is determined by how much a man makes (Common “The 6th Sense”). Messages such as this in Islamic pop cultural music (hip-hop) have set many misplaced youth in Sierra Leone and abroad on a search for a sense of community and identity, which has increasingly led them to the Islamic world.
What is important to understand is that Islamic pop cultural music in Sierra Leone has created social change by fulfilling some of the roles of the failed state by providing basic services, funding communities ND social and political organizations, while at the same time creating a new political identity for youth by integrating them into these social communities and political organizations.
Pop cultural music in Sierra Leone, is creating social change and a new political identity for its youth, whether scholars and the media chose to recognize it or not African youth have been the driving force behind Just about every revolution battle and civil war on the continent since the beginning of decentralization in the early 18th century.
History has shown us this time and time gain, from the brutal Algerian civil war (1964-1962) where fearless young crowds marched down the streets Algiers taunting the oppressive French troops by using music to chant and sing in praise of the National Liberation Front (FLAN), to the more recent Libyan revolution in 2011, where rebel forces composed of students, teachers and average citizens, used social media websites like twitter to mobile their assaults against Godhead forces.
All of these civil conflicts violent and nonviolent are entrenched in the core ideals the nationalism movements which we studied in length n our lectures and readings. A prime example of national unity occurred during the United States civil-rights movement of the sass that saw black protestors making extensive use of songs to call attention to their demands for social change, which also calls attention to the ideals of Black Nationalism and unity.
Furthermore in the same manner that N©gratitude writers found solidarity in a common black identity as a rejection of French colonial racism, African youth in Sierra Leone found their solidarity and a new political identity through urban pop cultural music.
In this paper I have discussed, how the advances in social media and digital technology have allowed urban youth music to become more accessible to the public, how youth are creating a new identity for themselves by expressing their political views through non-violent means such as musical content, how youth have found an increase of and why the emergence of Islamic hip-hop music is so appealing to youth. All in the hope to enlighten a topic that many have chosen to keep in the dark. Although the state, media and even parents may not have always been there for young people, their music has been because it’s never stopped playing.