Notes on: Niati, N. (2020). African, Know Thyself: Hip – Hop Pedagogy, Epistemic Disobedience, and Youth Engagement in West Africa. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from

Dave Harris

[The thesis that led to the article in the special edition on hip hop.
It claims that hip-hop helps young people express themselves in a way that reflects their realities in a language that they understand. It claims to develop a transnegritude theoretical framework. It claims to develop a comparative case study methodology to examine the macro, social political and historical dynamics and the micro lived realities of young people. Overall hip-hop pedagogy heals and promotes leadership ownership and autonomy.

Overall – long, repetitive. Actually studies 2 cases, one on Senegal, one in Côte D'Ivoire {I've anglicised throughout as Ivory Coast}. Focused on members of YEM  and their attempt to encourage Senegalese hiphop to construct songs to express their messages of engagement and civic education to attract young people and offer an alternative education. No examples.{But good ones on You Tube anyway}  In Wolof rather than French. A  specific kind of hip hop pedagogy, only of general interest if you accept pan-Africanism/transnegritude

 In Ivory Coast,  a local African musical style, Zouglou, does the same using local tam-tams {drums} and an emergent language Nouchi (no other lingua franca exists apart from French). FESCI is more rebellious and has been banned now and then. Only right at the end does she recognise that hip hop is also patriarchal and corrosive of meaning in its semioclasm rather than authentic, real, honest and upright etc which is what YEM promotes.

Transnegritude is continually referenced to a largely missing source – Toure forthcoming 2020, an unpublished doctoral dissertation  It is even more difficult to grasp without reference to debates in negritude and whether there really is one pan-African interest. That has been dismissed as essentialist, but Toure apparently says there is transnegritude, just as there is shared experience of colonialism as in transcoloniality, uniting all colonised people AND the African disapora. This  might be the tenuous link expressed by hip hop – it began in USA and now experienced in Senegal and thus might show transnegritude, but we have no detail of Senegalese hiphop. Since transnegritude allows for continuity and specifics it fits everything

The discussion  of the  method (CCS) is similarly shallow. It is used because her study is complex. She does try to link macro and micro (vertical) levels, but using the familiar stuff on colonialism really, and this is rather general, with few specifics. The few bits of recent Senegalese political history covers the transversal? The horizontal is also in this descriptive material? There are some general comparisons between Senegal and Ivory Coast in terms of political strategies and solutions, but it tends to be minimised in favour of transnegritude? No comparisons appear in the article.

There are different senses of hip hop pedagogy -- incorporating and transforming US mainstream hip hop to fit local conditions. This might be an example of transnegritude? Is this the same as developing distinctive Sengalese hiphop or zouglou? Or YEM and others deliberately writing hip hop to incorporate their themes? How epistemically disobedient are these different forms? he commentary right at the end on the macho bits of hip hop imply only partial disobedience?

The contents of hip hop also vary in terms of their ability to disobey as a break-- strengthening personal identity and autonomy and all that, supporting YEM's democracy, deeper counternarratives to undo colonialism.

So the whole argument is that we can somehow equate hip-hop, transnegritude and CCS because they are all national and international, contradictory and complex and yet unified at the same time. Specific aims seem to vary ( see eps Ch 3 -- operationalise transnegritude, do CCS, grasp hiphop as participants see it,make a case for YEM policy. She used a variety of comnventional methods incvluding student surveys and techniques to code {newspaper articles?}. We are not shown any raw data except some examples from interviews with YEM and FESCI members

Chapter 1

In 2011, a Senegal presidential bid for an illegal third term led to protest involving hip-hop music and activism and YEM. It was effective and led to further youth protest in Africa, including in the Ivory Coast where a similar Federation was established (FESCI). There is a widespread youth movement in sub Saharan Africa. YEM has been seen as an alternative to radical extremism of the Boko Haram variety. Hip-hop seems to be 'a powerful expressive tool to engage effectively with disaffected youth… As a means for challenging majoritarian epistemologies of disobedience, [colonial] schooling and engagement' (2).

Senegal has lots of problems including mass unemployment and school disengagement, so hip-hop pedagogy can be an alternative. Same with Ivory Coast. There is also a temptation to join jihadist groups. At the same time education is seen as a key to national development and in building national identity. Colonial education was forced upon them, however, leading to a demand for autonomy and, as a result, citizenship education.

Hip-hop reflects social economic political and cultural realities and thus describes collective experience '"modes of thinking, epistemologies of urban youth"' [citing Bridges].This makes it an authentic and practical way of undertaking teaching. It is global critical cultural movement, not a passing fad, an engaged pedagogy, like conscientisation. She wants to research how it is and can be used as a pedagogical tool, and how it can engender civic engagement in Senegal and Ivory Coast.

Education is clearly important and respected in Africa [and the history of education in Senegal is briefly summarised]. After colonisation African languages and culture were to be restored in the interest of development and modernisation, although economic crises stopped a lot of this and foreign loans came with conditions. Dependency increased. The French education system still plays an important role. The French curriculum has been adapted but there are still similarities including examinations. The curriculum has now been designed more specifically for Senegal, but kids are still taught French to overcome local language differences. There are still lots of deficiencies. Koranic schools are often seen as attractive alternatives. Post secondary secular education is often avoided. There is a current alignment with UNESCO policies but attendance at secondary level is still low and so is the literacy rate and unemployment rate. [I've skipped over a bit about Ivory Coast]

Hip-hop is popular and has been used as a potential pedagogic tool for engagement. The key term here is transnegritude, coined by Toure. [The reference is always 'forthcoming', as it is in the article — in this piece it is given as an unpublished doctoral dissertation, Penn State  2020. It does a lot of work]. This involves colonised people in the diaspora as an imagined community. She uses epistemic disobedience as well to understand how engagement is employed and utilised by young people. She focuses on the discussion of hip-hop discussed by several others and shows how it can be used to delink and liberate from dominant narratives. She claims to use Bartlett and Vavrus to see how majoritarian narratives have been challenged especially how young people have used 'a derided art form to teach, mobilise and engage' [she cites Vavrus and Bartlett 2017 Rethinking Case study research -- same as my version I think].

She uses ethnographic methods interviews, PO, field notes, surveys and document analysis to do transversal analysis. She borrows from research that looks at rap connecting to English literature and subsequent violence, but this study looks at West Africa and popular music, hip-hop as an opportunity, going beyond incorporating hip-hop into school and looking at '"hip-hopography" (Alim 2011) an approach that combines the methods of ethnography, biography and social and oral history'. Apparently, epistemological norms are to be challenged and ethnographic methods are going to be used to look at the relation between hip-hop and identity formation. Young people are to be seen as an asset. [Chapter contents are then listed] [I'm going to largely ignore the bits from the Ivory Coast].

Chapter 2

Literature review. Includes Toure on transnegritude and epistemic disobedience. Transnegritude concerns black identity, agency and deconstructionism which permits 'a fluid navigation of hip-hop pedagogy. It helps her 'theorise epistemologies of disobedience and resistance which informed the views of YEM and FESCI  [the Ivorian equivalent]'. [Never really done] More generally she is going to challenge the formal schooling context and interrogate youth identity and engagement.

Transnegritude as understood by Toure requires an understanding of negritude, the three founding fathers, and how they challenged erasure, psychic disorientation, the African world as arrested development and racial other ring. Negritude was a literary and philosophical movement in response to colonial domination, a philosophy of black identity reimagining African alternatives [all this referenced to Clark 2013]. Cesaire is quoted as offering a transnational analysis within the diaspora. Toure focuses on visibility and ownership and shared struggle, and imagines a Francophone movement as part of transnegritude as a matter of shared colonial oppression. It is inspired by the concept of 'transcoloniality', a '"shared experience of colonial oppression in all former French colonies and those of other major countries"' [a quote from actual Toure, page 1] (22). There are variations which together can apparently be used to construct both the '"ostracised self and fearless other"' [Toure again]. Negritude involved in imagined community, some affinity among blacks transcending nationality, but Toure imagines '"multiple negritudes"' rather than an homogenous movement, negritude with layers, 'many ongoing negritudes"', no cultural fixity

This requires black people to think again about linkages and bonds among people who have a common history of slavery and colonialism racial prejudice or discrimination, and specially in taking on their identity crisis and psychic disorientations. Negritude is an objective dimension based on some shared black cultural values, some real opposition to majority narratives, but this risks essentialism. There are also splits among the founding fathers given that African languages themselves were stratified, with, for example Creole having a low status. African notions were internalised, and many African elites wanted instead to identify as Europeans who happen to be black. Somehow, transnegritude 'allows for a more nuanced approach'(25).

Certainly discussions with YEM members show that they can conceptualise their identities differently, including in their views of hip-hop pedagogy. They also focused on adherence, healing themselves, and took a view of identity as a matter of personal presentation, verbal artistry and self commentary. These are 'concepts that I wish to complicate within transnegritude' (25) [bullshit]. We can also now consider negritude writers as a response to imperialism, especially the call to return to Africa, pan- Africanism, neglecting the views of diasporic populations [all these are options in Senegalese politics?] . Toure instead wants to focus on the migratory experience[not relevant to Senegal then].

YEM has been said to draw upon negritude as well as hip-hop culture [by Bryson 2014], especially Senghor. Transnegritude is not just Senegalese identity but looks at black identity in its context in each specific location. This problematizes the self within a decolonial narrative [and does not accept the usual categories of modernity and post-modernity to explain immigration?]

The issue is to focus on the extent to which young people share a trans-colonial narrative, sharing an imagined community or multiple roots [these are alternatives surely?] and how they negotiate their space through hip-hop, how they reconcile this with a philosophy guided by black nationalism, [or Snegealese identity?] how they reconcile epistemic disobedience.

Fanon and Mignolo talk of the problems of delinking. She also likes  Ngugi on the impact of colonial and neocolonial regimes, and the way it privileged its own epistemology and rendered everything else as magic or ancient wisdom, and needs to affirm epistemic alternatives. She calls for resistance of the kind provided by YEM who were disobeying or resisting 'social and pedagogical norms; from talking back to elders, to having women activists/leaders, to developing their own schools' — 'epistemic disobedience' [bollocks] (29) [they must be the same because there is no resistance without this kind of epistemic disobedience she argues, and anyway she finds this on talking to them -- no actual data for us though. Then it is back to Fanon and others]

She can then go on to understand 'the parallels [weasel] of hip-hop pedagogy and citizenship and civic education… Epistemic disobedience and transnegritude' (31). Hip-hop culture helps young people recognise the failure of institutions and help them see that real and imagined relations between people exposed displacement disillusion and despair created by post industrial capitalism. Through this struggle, cultural expression and identity mobilisation are encouraged. So is civic education [seems pretty limited and straight], aimed at 'reasoned deliberation… Participation in decision-making, justly and equitably distributes political economic power and facilitates cultural inclusiveness' (33). There may be a contradiction between versions proposed in school and more alternative and informal ones. Those promoted by YEM seem more similar to Toure and multiple negritudes, opposing cultural fixity.

Hip-hop is like transnegritude and 'speaks to the deep linking and expressive actions of those othered' (36) it is connected to a global black experience of oppression and constructs a black nationalist identity. It has healing power it is about better understanding language learning identity and curriculum [lots of other references here. It was constructed by young urban blacks using mass culture to facilitate communal discourse, another imagined community. It is not just rap. It is something '"you live"'. It is music, dance, arts, clothing, philosophy and politics [ie a subculture]. It has been studied in academia. It is a form of creative collage. It can now 'hold its own within traditional and non-traditional academic spaces. It merges the fields of sociology, cultural and ethnic studies, history, education, politics and the arts' (37).

If we take a school to be any purposeful learning community, hip-hop can be 'a critical space to study transformative education and liberatory knowledge production' (38), not structures as mechanised, but creative and imaginative. [Again there seems to be some literature on this, linking Freire and problem posing, informed by CRT — Akom 2009]. It is claimed that it is still the dominant language of youth culture created in struggle, speaking about sociopolitical and marginal issues, echoing Freire in identifying a problem, analysing it, developing a plan, implementing it, and then evaluating it [looks more like Ed Tech than Freire]. For Akom, this makes it an operationalisation of conscientisation, a source of counter hegemonic curricula, something involving rigourous analysis and knowledge production.

Early rap lyrics are cited in support and the scathing critique rappers offered despite their lack of qualifications. However, not all forms of hip-hop are emancipated  or revolutionary, 'some even the opposite' (42), but we have to remember that there is no one definition of negritude either, and academic institutions can still be rebuked [by Akom] for underestimating the potential [it turns out that he is a faculty member himself at San Francisco].

That was an American context — what about an African one? A rapper called Nas and his album Il;lumatic  is supposed to be particularly good in creating a kind of documentary of life in Queens, it features reality and 'poetic substance and sophisticated complex rhyme patterns or lyricism' it describes the world of the young poet describing streetlife, cutting through conventional written works on urban poverty and providing thought-provoking language. Apparently it inspired an article on global ill-literacies, circumventing standard English grammar, and talking up apparent illiteracy as really, black language as a better form of expression, a counter hegemonic practice, like hip-hop's coded language and its poetics. [Just like Labov and NNE all those years ago in the 1970s -- see a very old file on linguistic deprivation here]

This is applied to a piece by Tupac Shakur, showing that the three major components of literacy are indeed present — '"literacy must be Intimate, Lived, and Liberatory"' (45). The same bloke [Alim] analyses Asian rap battles to show a similar 'push towards authenticity, connectedness and above all skill'. In this way vulgar language and complex rhymes and matrices 'disrupts hegemonic middle-class norms' (46) and expands the very notion of language. It is far from simple illiteracy. This new language helps young people form their own identities as a form of creative pleasure.

This can happen for African youth. In Nigeria young people can code switch 'between Yoruba, Igbo, English and Nigerian pidgin' (47) to disrupt English is an official language and construct multilingual texts. [A later piece explains that Senegal also has multiple languages, and with only 29% speaking French (50)] Educators often misunderstood and opposed these intellectual gymnastics, and failed to recognise the liberatory qualities. Hip-hop literacy should be a safe space to encourage examination of the world, by incorporating texts that are widely read and circulated by young people including hip-hop, avoiding simple divisions between respectable and other texts. There is semantic inversion, irony. [but obvious problems connecting with the conventional curriculum]

[But why want to elevate this 'into the echelons of academia'? (50)]. Labov can still be used to estimate the prestige which of different forms of language. Apparently the glocal hip-hop community allows diverse practitioner variations with shared respects since it values keeping it real and being true to the local, so that vernacular varieties achieve social capital [although some research shows that there were stigmatising tendencies between hip hoppers, and hints that this appears in Senegal as well (53)].

Apparently there is a study showing that hip-hop is important with the politics of identity and ethnicity with aboriginal youth in Australia, following some 'identity work' to negotiate the strains between tradition and modernity. Apparently traditional rituals and practices were particularly compatible with techniques such as MCing, breaking and free styling' (54), and the work found that global cultures could be grounded in indigenous expressions, especially with 'West Coast rap' with its account of oppression, addiction, family breakdown and unemployment et cetera (55). Formal pedagogy in schools had failed to gather support and attendance, but hip-hop helped build some kind of cultural brotherhood. The communities provided opportunities for cultural production and alternatives to dangerous street activities, and mentorship. This might be evidence of a '"transnational black culture"' (57) or a kind of creative collage. Similar findings have been found in Somalia

The opportunities for young engagement are increasing, partly because of the role of social media, music has become a particular form of protest and discontent, especially in Africa. Hip-hop is particularly popular 'for its vulgarity audacity and violence' making it easily accessible as a kind of '"unbridled critique"' (60). It can challenge established hierarchies. [And offer an imaginary solution to the real challenges facing young people in Africa [incidentally this bit leads to the weasel about youth being socially constructed]. A long history of destruction and devastation of Africa follows explaining the disintegration of established norms and the isolation and our people facing youth appearing as problems of modernity and deeply affecting African politics.

Chapter 3

The transnegritude implications of hip-hop culture, in terms of 'authenticity knowledge making and transformation' (69) a matter of [imaginary] liberation through knowledge of self, is also stressed in the plans for economic development and higher education as well as young people's activism. Apparently hip-hop provides a platform for full expression and has influenced the very process of identity formation. It acts as a [full] counter narrative and as a space for other counter narratives, one of Mignolo's apparatuses of enunciation.[Implying the styronger sense of pedagogy]

Her theoretical and epistemological understanding is informed by Mignolo and the epistemology of disobedience via poststructuralism and decolonising. She is particularly interested in counter stories, the stories of those who are not often heard. Decolonisation involves the liberation of the self as well as of the nation. An interdisciplinary approach is required. She is partisan, as a Congolese American researcher. She will undertake 'textual analysis individual narratives, case study, historiography, aesthetic criticism and all other options that allow full meaning making… Holistic practices' that will permit the effective implementation of educational initiatives (71). The dynamics of power transnegritude and engagement will particularly frame the research. She will use CCS.

She has to ask herself whose interest is served by this research and who will benefit from it. She also has to define some of the terms like colonised people. [Strangely, she wants to quote one of the characters in Avengers!]. She initially used the postcolonial narrative, but this might minimise the effect of indigenous groups themselves fighting for autonomy [if they do? They MUST do?]. Indigenous and native also have connotations, however. 'Africans' also has problems. She referred to Fanon and others. [The Senegalese were once colonised by the French and were allegedly made independent in the 60s, although they may still be subject to neocolonialism, still exploited and directed from outside]. Full decolonisation will involve liberation from these forces, re-claiming 'the intellectual and physical space of Western hegemony' (73) including a view of history. Counter stories can help, including those in hip-hop. There is also a struggle in academic life because the Academy privileges 'colonising epistemologies' (74), assuming there is a universal researcher with a definite relation to the researched as object, while decolonised research involves listening and participation with others [easily incorporated if 'others' are defined suitably].

Civic movements led by indigenous people express a universal dissatisfaction, producing 'civil and epistemic disobedience' (74) including negritude. In Senegal movements like YEM emerged, deliberately sharing an international language while maintaining local roots.

CCS seems suitable to study both complexity and linkages. It promotes critical qualitative research to look at actions and narratives. It draws on Denzin and Lincoln on stressing the socially constructed nature of reality. It builds on case study. It is process-oriented focusing on the phenomenom and its larger context. She did 23 months of fieldwork, collected 210 surveys from students, undergrad and postgrad [what kind?Never mentioned again] and did interviews with 12 members of YEM, kept a research journal and did analysis of newspapers journal on social media. She also did PO. She wanted to highlight the concept of transnegritude and operationalise it. [AND study hip hop as participants saw it?]

The vertical dimensions of the case study looked at how youth navigated hip-hop and engagement. It is necessarily messy and contradictory. Neocolonialism is still apparent. transnegritude encounters problems because many young people feel as if they have been 'conditioned and trained in a system of deception and disillusionment and they grapple with the dichotomy of authenticity and maintaining/challenging the status quo' (78). This is not specific to Africa. We have to see how hip-hop helps understand a transnegritude experience of black mass, and Toure can help.

He says that transnegritude can help grasp the philosophical and literary articulations of aspects of identity in Africa and the diaspora and this makes it apt for studying hip-hop civic engagement and schooling [how exactly?]. It helps deal with '"several imagined Africas"' (79). So we can be free and flexible in order to 'make the case for hip-hop, schooling and civic engagement' [so we are making a case].

CCS offers us fluidity and an escape from being boxed in, dealing with all aspects of the study including spatial politics. Toure says that transnegritude also acknowledges the transversality of negritude [using the term in the same way?]. This means that hip-hop applies to diasporic narratives and to outside cases as well [well, if hip-hop is the same as transnegritude, which is what you need to argue first, but you've just associated the two terms]. transnegritude 'like CCS' allows for tensions.

Using CCS: case study generally would be useful and this led her to gather individual surveys and interviews and other things she took a process-oriented approach to get to a holistic analysis hip-hop has proved to be a destabilising force in African politics contributing to youth awareness and civic engagement. CCS helps us see how this has happened, how a derided artform has led to teaching and engagement, protest, how a larger context connects with narratives and stories more locally.

[Lots follows on the merits of case study more generally how it shows how reality is constructed as a kind of thick description, and how CCS is emergent 'like hip-hop in this regard', so she can be more daring and explicit, and also include more cases inside 'a transnegritude understanding' (82) [strangely, she still thinks that 'Vavrus and Bartlet support holism'] [the general case that hip-hop might show the links between local and global is asserted again. The whole argument turns on things like 'if we are to argue for a transnegritude experience of hip-hop culture' (85), then we will have to further explore decolonisation and repeat it all again about the construction of others and all that. It is all assertions about how young activists did epistemic disobedience. Then a personal story from her to explain her position  on reality and how it helps her understand, how 'hip-hop culture spoke to me' especially Tupac, Queen Latifah and KRS-ONE who embodied the spirit of Patrice Lumumba'. It also drove her academic interests.

She transcribed interviews in French first and then English. She studied Wolof in Dakar but was never fluent enough to use the language in discussions with YEM. This reminded her of her outsider status, so she recognises that she might have missed some nuances.

She selected the case study sites after being selected to study in Dakar by being granted a fellowship. She focused on university students and civic organisations. Senegal, Dakar and the Ivory Coast are described. And these are the sites for hard data collection. She had some first hand experiences of student protest but used contacts through the University mostly.

In analysis, she claims to use radical hermeneutics and de-constructionism, very useful in 'dismantling majoritarian narratives and Eurocentric epistemologies (105) [but not her own data?]. She did use 'a mix of simultaneous/embedded, descriptive, versus narrative and pattern coding' in cycles of coding to find themes, patterns and relationships in words, phrases or perspectives' (106) and did 'document analysis to provide context on the international national and local stage from local journals', as an example of the vertical approach. She did research journals. She hired research assistants and student workers, some preliminary student surveys to recruit students for interview. She encountered problems from sexual politics, 'stares at my "foreignness and my eagerness to engage in activism work by proxy"' (108). She was worried about seeing to do research on behalf of the coloniser, but was used to being a marginal person as a Congolese refugee in the USA. She was as open as possible with the interviewees, trying not to objectify them. Some of her Americanised tendencies might have alienated them. Respondents being students helped. She was aware that she might be forcing people to disclose material on sensitive topics, including war and gender politics, especially with Ivory Coast personnel. These are definitely limitations to the study, however.

[Well it's pretty flimsy conventional research really dressed up with CCS somehow made similar to transnegritude Vertical bits fit via colonialism. Transversal bits fit because Toure also uses the term. Horizontal bits could be there via comparisons Senegal and Ivory Coast? -- is a little it of this buit great concern o see similarities via transnegritude etc]

Chapter 4

Young people in Africa have a contradictory image, either puppets or warlords or cultural entrepreneurs, but are a resource.Both YEM and FESCI have tried to mobilise them for more autonomous ways, using social media and hip-hop. FESKI grew out of student led organisations to address repression by a particular government, spreading beyond issues of educational opportunity, building on those sent to France for higher education returning to take up places in the civil service. [Could be transnegritude here then?] Economic crises led to problems dealing with foreign loans leading to a restriction in state spending which led to student revolt and subsequent repression. FESCI had church origins [but then universities were closed], merged with other organisations, including the Ivorian popular front. Young people became recruited into politics. FESCI was banned for its violence and went underground, but could not be totally repressed and was reinstated during subsequent events including civil wars. Regional and ethnic differences emerged. It still keeps its reputation as a bit of a Mafia -type organisation, and it still provides some sort of leadership training and transformation.

Speaking to some members, it was seen to be an necessary organisation even if flawed. It is hierarchical, centrally organised, operating with national politics. It works through a family type set of influences in social life with a system of favours and benefits for supporters, including support for particular departments in universities and their facilities [providing toilets in particular] [there are lots of interviews here recorded with lengthy quotes. None of them mentioned hip-hop from what I can see].

YEM grow out of unexpected political instability in Senegal when the president sought an illegal third term. YEM raised consciousness through community organisation social media and 'unifying hip-hop anthems (134) and defeated this move. Senegal then experienced a single party rule and various economic crises [including under President Senghor] but there were no military coups. Again outside aid led to cuts in government spending and austerity measures especially on education and civil administration — 'Young people were fed up' (136) and youth appeared as politically disruptive in the form of student protests and university shutdowns. The old president came back as the face of youth, as an irony, but lost support, despite considerable investment in the arts and various cultural projects, none of which were particularly implemented. Proposals to change the constitution were made in 2012 to attempt to make himself more electable.

YEM reformed during a particular power outage and decided to try to do something about the crises in 2011. They drew together rappers, students and activists. Niati interviewed a female founder in particular [this is Sophie]. YEM aimed at transformation, a new type of Senegalese, taking responsibility, questioning their elders [more quotations from members]. They established local chapters. Another member said he liked the informal organisation and the focus on local problems [in his case agitating in local politics]. Other community projects seem to have been launched to raise knowledge of social rights, question elected officials and sometimes their parents as well. YEM has grown in significance as a result. They still run open houses to meet members of the public.

What both organisation shows that young people are trying to mobilise and engage, although the two organisations differ in terms of their methods, showing the complexity of postcolonial politics. Luckily transnegritude is capable of dealing with this complexity. Both use hip-hop.

Chapter 5

Ideas of authenticity and keeping it real seem really important. For both organisations hip-hop seems a useful transformative tool, 'promoting socialisation, language, citizenship engagement and leadership training' (150). It is a counter to schooling and education. It helps contest and challenge the classroom. A new type of school helps promote the new type of African. It provides a discursive space to develop identity and advocate social change.

Hip-hop in Senegal arrived via youth in Dakar's affluent neighbourhoods first. US hip-hop songs appeared and then local groups performing in Wolof and French. In 1992 Senegalese French rappers launched Senegalese hip-hop that led to international record deals and tools for other artists. A Wolof only album was released in 1998 providing hard-hitting social commentary and that led to an underground hip-hop movement. Most of the rappers still come from Dakar and the working class low income neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods demonstrate lack of access to education, including access to French, and this actually provides a link to the US experience of marginalisation and urban struggle. [Says who?]

Again this links [somehow] with the discussion of transnegritude in Toure, with the transnational connections of Senegalese hip-hop and the way in which local music and popular culture links with transnational global connections [all this is referenced to somebody called Appert]. Then an odd bit: hip-hop is appealing to Senegalese youth 'and is reified as a culture that speaks to the struggles of underdevelopment' (152) [possibly another quote from Appert?]. Senegalese artists had not been taken over by celebrity and financial gain. They still address unemployment, flooding, migration and poverty. So hip-hop remains as an informal educated tool a way of facing processes of urbanisation and modernisation, the destabilisation of family, a critical tool for activism and engagement.

Members of YEM agree that hip-hop is who they were and how they express themselves. They organised pedagogic concerts using sympathetic artists. A quote says that the pedagogic concept 'focuses on discourse, on citizenship, and awareness to awaken and whip political consciousness among young people' (153) a particular chant or song is introduced framing a project and that spreads via social media. The project is publicised in international conferences. [The quote from Fadel in the article refers to the way in which these concerts were generated, apparently 'naturally', 154]. Hip-hop spoke to these members, gave them a platform, spoke to the lived realities and encouraged action. It just fits with decolonisation epistemic disobedience and de-linking and shows a shared epistemology [just asserted then] (155) [very doubtful of course -- hip hop artists do epistemology?].

Apparently a similar popular musical style in Ivory Coast [Zouglou] developed in the Bronx but was developed by marginalised young people and made to communicate their own demands for social inclusion and justice. Its lyrics were frank and outright and decried the state. It led to widespread social commentary and social knowledge and help the young form a cultural identity and become visible.

Could we consider this as part of hip-hop pedagogy? Both came from a shared struggle. Both speak to the lived realities and challenge young people to be autonomous. FESCI say similar things about Zouglou as YEM say about hip-hop [that it voices the frustrations of the young]. It was cheaper than buying American hip-hop cassettes — you could use the local tam-tam. 'Participants conveyed to me the power that Zouglou had over them'(159) [give us an example — it is compared to reggae]. Somehow it justifies Mignolo in providing a new local improvised musical semiotic [yes but can you do politics in it? Reject Marxism and modernism?]

Socialisation leadership training and an increase in self-esteem and confidence is what kept people going to FESCI sessions. Maybe people only join schools and universities so they could enrol. It was seen as providing necessary training for the real world. She attended sessions and met members, one who found internships for younger students. It did look a bit like a Mafia -type organisation. It did see itself as socialising people extending what schools did, doing civic education, rescuing the young.

Both organisations were aware they had been criticised for indoctrination. Both had been offered patronage by their own governments, but both had refused posts in the government in order to preserve their authenticity, even though that led to a denial of access to schools.

The hope is that hip-hop will cultivate organic intellectuals [back to this Akom bloke]. It is not just American rhymes but the ability to harness imagination agency becoming creativity and social consciousness, creating a space for organisations to create counter narratives and epistemic disobedience.

Chapter 6

Authenticity challenges dominant narratives and promotes resistance, and it is necessary in hip-hop. It is central to the appeal of YEM and FESCI, to the challenge to politicians and to identity expression. It might be summarised as the need to keep it real, and it also involves using local languages rather than colonial French. It ties in with negritude and decolonisation.

Both organisations promote authenticity and ownership so does hip-hop, white YEM particularly uses hip-hop to promote authenticity and authentic expression, while Feski uses Zouglou and a new language of their own,Nouchi.

French is the official language of Senegal, but only 28% of the population speak it. Wolof is spoken by 80% of the population. French is suspected as being used to mislead the population, so Wolof can be used to counter that and develop a possible counter hegemonic politics, keeping it real [lots of quotes here to support this, again from YEM activists.] The struggle over language symbolise the whole struggle over the colonial past.

Low et al. have analysed hip-hop culture and its belief system in terms of its five elements — '"the streets, hard heterosexual masculinity, blackness,… Place and culture, the importance of being true to yourself, and politically conscious "underground [stuff]"'. These were common, and she sees them as confirming decolonising and epistemic disobedience [including hard heterosexual masculinity?] (180).

Nouchi  is a common youth language in Ivory Coast and yet it cannot be a national language because there are so many other ethnic groups, so French remains the official language even though 60% do not have it.  Nouchi is a collection of languages. It is democratic and has become an unofficial lingua franca, thus approaching keeping it real. Somehow this 'plays' to the deliberate experimental language found in hip-hop, it's 'ill-literacy' (184) the way it disrupts elitist norms. It is seen as low status. Zouglou similarly can be seen as 'a reconfiguration of hip-hop'(184) because it also is not homogenised and keeps it real.

Overall, the political activism of YEM is linked to the cultural forms they used to disseminate it, not just words but clothing dance music and ritual, including hip-hop and civic activities that involve it. The aim is to develop a new type of Senegalese, Senegalese cultural patterns to embody, including ideas rooted in hip-hop culture, hip-hop can provide counter narratives, ones that run counter to what the government is doing if necessary [lots of quotes again from the members]. A change of mentality [!] seems required, with links to Mignolo again. It should be a new type of pan- Africanism as well.

This is echoed in the Ivory Coast as well. It has benefited FESCI members directly in that they have done quite well in conventional politics [so there's a bit of criticism here].

So the two organisations do diverge, both in what they use and how much they are engaged in conventional politics. Both attract young people. Both engage in the project of advancing civic engagement. Hip-hop pedagogy seems more promising in developing epistemic disobedience.

Chapter 7

Young people in Africa are a potential asset, but there is competition for their loyalty including from Boko Haram and other extremists. A recent survey shows that most young people in Africa are optimistic, digital and media savvy, but aware of corruption and limited start-up capital, quite entrepreneurial. There is therefore a potential for a 'critical hip-hop pedagogy' [I still think it is pushing it to call it that]

Both why YEM and FESCI have used hip-hop to organise and engage young people so it has become an educative tool that challenges schooling through pedagogic concerts workshops and music. This speaks to delinking and epistemic disobedience. There are also links to '"multiple roots of blackness"' that Toure calls transnegritude [still very vague and assertive]. (199 There are differences in the struggles against colonialism. In both countries neoliberalism has failed. A new identity and consciousness has been created and it is 'authentically Ivorian or Senegalese', arising from a struggle and voicelessness. In both cases hip-hop has been 'adopted and remixed perceived cultural contexts and becomes a tool of expression and mobilisation through Wolof… and Nouchi' (200). Both organisations have global reach and so provide a pan- African outlook although they diverged.

We can keep in mind [sic] transnegritude, and see the appeal for autonomy in hip-hop as a pedagogy, the construction of a fearless other. Transnegritude and CCS both provided sufficient 'fluidity and multiscalar  approach' in this complex study (201). Transnegritude is both temporal, transgenerational and spatial and helps provide 'an extensive analysis of young people navigating postcolonial diasporic realities', and this helps because hip-hop is a diasporic narrative [is it?]. CCS draws our attention to the macro as well as the micro, the holistic and multiscalar [Shah gets a mention for an unpublished doctoral dissertation from Indiana University on girls and development in India]. Together we have a larger theoretical and methodological framework. The differences between the two organisations also shows the relevance of Ngugi on decolonial struggle.

There are policy implications for citizenship education as long as we 'forefront their epistemologies' and recognise 'sociopolitical and economic variances' such as those between the organisations (202) the voices of young people themselves need to be considered, and this is sometimes missed, for example in the UNESCO projects she worked on. The voices and experiences of youth activists need to be encouraged and practices of resistance developed, to demand rights as much as to exercise them. Organisations like those studied can face a '"possible disjuncture"' between their practices and 'the realities of clientelism, patronage and authoritarian politics' (204) and we should see how they navigate them. Again the 'lens of hip-hop is important' with its emphasis on keeping it real, authenticity, which stresses a continuing dialogue with the community.

This emphasis might help develop more programs, including UNESCO ones and educational ones.

There are limitations, especially those concerning women and this needs further investigation. Hip-hop still has a problem and can be seen as both oppressive and empowering (206). One YEM member referred to 'the "African mentality" that still relegates women to the household' (207 although she claims this is changing. Otherwise YEM members recognise this as a weakness and blame various sociological factors that perpetuate submissive women. For FESCI, there is a place for 'Amazons', but access to them was difficult, although she was told they had an important role.

This might reflect the fundamental dichotomy in hip-hop culture itself which is both oppositional and patriarchal [very late in recognising this]. there are also contradictions between keeping it real and authentic on the one hand and the '"multiplicity and even chaos of meaning making"' on the other (210).

There are also differences between university students, their approaches to hip-hop and their lived experience and the migrant experiences of Africans in the Diaspora and she needs to follow this as well.

So there are lots of questions remaining although she has established that hip-hop pedagogy has established a sense of identity, ownership and leadership and it will help young people in West Africa [massive generalisation].


At the time of writing (June 2022) there was a dearth of Senegalese hip hop on You Tube. There was a short documentary Africa Underground. Hip Hop in Senegal, which featured several local artists commenting on the development of the genre. Briefly, they all agree they had been influenced by American rap, especially Fight the Power, and saw the potential to educate young people, help them express themselves and advance democracy. US influence was important at first, including the clothing, but they soon stopped copying US rap and just translating it into Wolof. That translation was helped by those who had some English from schooling. They could see similariities, so Dakar was also a ghetto, but not like the ones in the USA like Harlem.

The main differences lay in their Muslim faith, which forbade the inclusion of some themes in the lyrics, of cursing, of sexual imagery ( and thus, they claimed, of misogyny). There was respect for old people and openly religious lyrics, nothing about gangstas or drugs. Themes did include the havoc of globalisation its violence and the effects of the system, including criticisms of the USA.

They preserved respect for African culture, for example dressing in traditional dress when touring in the US.

There is no way to judge if these hip hoppers are typical, of course. The video seems to have been recorded in about 2008, judging by the dates of the comments.