2.1 Literature Review
The literature review will explore scholarly work on music and the lifestyles of musicians with particular focus on the effects and impact on the behaviour of the youth in an urban setting. The review will show how musicians in various genres have been working as a tool for socialisation the society. The literature will also focus on the roles that musicians take which have the power to affect the way people think and act.
Ibekwe (n.d.) asserts that many a time, people appreciate music just for what they think it is (entertainment medium) and musicians for what they think they are (entertainers) thus as a result they fail to grasp the vital role music and musicians play in the proper functioning of events in human existence and thereby accord them little or no serious reputation in society. Music is more than ordinary entertainment trend, according to Ibekwe (n.d.), “…it is a force, a living force that yields to various forms of meanings and interpretations. It is just not one thing but many things reviewed from a prism, which unifies all”. According to Plato, music is a useful instrument for education “because more than anything else rhythm and harmony find their way into the inmost soul and take strongest hold upon it. Music begins by striking the senses and then passing through the senses, it goes more deeply into the soul (Schoen-Nazzaro, 1978).
2.2. The sound of liberation
In Africa and other parts of the world which experienced oppressive regimes, musicians played a significant role of composing music which promoted freedom and the genre was commonly known as liberation music, struggle songs or protest songs and Nkoala (2013), argues that the genre became popular in “the context of the anti-war movement in the United States during the 1960s”. Some scholars discredit the term ‘protest music’ because it is “Misleading insofar as it is interpreted to imply that all such songs are ‘anti’ something, denouncing some negative abuse rather than promoting something positive to put in its place”, A more accurate description is that of “songs of hope and struggle” This is because over and above expressing ‘resistance’ to some form of oppression, these songs are about projecting hope for the day when the oppression will be no more (Nkoala 2013). According to Nkoala (2013), Struggle songs ‘work’ because in these songs one finds historical “events recorded passionately rather than with unemotional neutrality, yet the passion is not so much that of an individual singer’s personal response, but rather that of a collective interpretation of events from a particular committed standpoint.” Thus due to the fact that musicians compose songs that relate to the different situations that people face, they will be easily influenced by what they sing about.
If one would consider the aspects that made liberation art effectual as part of a strategy to oust oppressive regimes, one will notice that the efficacy of struggle songs lies largely in their ability to persuade through being functional, inspirational, educational, instructional, ideological and political (Nkoala, 2013). the songs were a “means used by… people to speak of… poverty… sufferings and exploitation”, to stir up their fellow oppressed people to grow even more indignant against the injustices that they were being subjected to thus they paraded in the streets of South Africa to put an end to Apartheid (Nkoala, 2013). With each phase of the struggle, songs were frequently modified in order to capture the emotions and articulate the conditions of the time (Nkoala, 2013). The scholar goes on to argue that the outcome of this is that the lyrics, even the structure of the songs, were often subject to change, which implies that the meaning was also often altered. Further, the fact that the actual physical and musical performance of a song were part and parcel of how it was used to be persuasive, implies that one cannot simply read lyrics but rather, one needs to watch the songs performed in order to get a sense of not only what they sounds like, but the kind of actions that accompany the songs (Nkoala 2013). As according to Nkoala (2013), the song “Senzeni Na” produced by the Bangor Community Choir, contained the following lyrics;
Sonosethu, ubumyama? (x4)
Sonosethuyinyaniso ? (x4)
Mayibuye i Africa (x4)14
What have we done? (x4)
Is our sin the fact that we are black? (x4)
Is our sin the truth? (x4)
We are being killed (x4)
Return Africa (x4)
Three of the four verses of Senzeni Na? are posed as rhetorical questions, leading to the conclusion that part of the song’s efficacy lies in its approach of posing probing questions that are not meant to be answered, but rather are meant to evoke an internal response from the subconscious of those being questioned (Nkoala, 2013). In this regard, a study by Burnkrant and Howard shows that “introducing a counter-attitudinal message with questions leads to more intensive processing of message content than introducing it with statements” (Burnkrant &Howard, 1984). The use of the rhetorical questions in ‘Senzeni Na?’ was way of exposing the absurd nature of the race-based laws of apartheid. Speaking in an interview which featured a singer, songwriter and activist Sibongile Khumalo who alluded to the power of the song lying also in the repetitive nature of the lyrics, explained that, “if you ask senzeni na? (what have we done?) four times, someone is bound to get the message”. Thus the song managed to evoke anger to the black majority and communicated a sense of frustration at the injustices of the time (Nkoala 2013).
2.3. Musicians provide social educators
Musicians have a role as keepers of public conscience and take the position as “…a man who has his hands on the social control lever” (Ibekwe n.d.). Musicians guide the society; drawing from the collective wisdom and pool of knowledge and proverbs of the surrounding community. They foresee events like any poet, for a poet can point the way to come, even though the people following may not see it for the time being. An arguement by Ibekwe (n.d.) that, “good music promotes social stability, patriotism and gives good image to a nation”, clearly shows that musicians they are expected to be social agents that shape the behaviour of the society.
Therefore, from these various forms of meanings and interpretations, one can rightly describe music as, a moral censor, a mobilizer, an educator, promoter of social and cultural values etc. As a moral censor and an educator for example, the following song by a Nigerian musician who educates parents on the need to allow their daughters make choice of marriage by themselves and condemns parents having upper hand or contracting marriage that is likely to cause disharmony and instability between the couple;
“Nna mo, ina-eduzim na-eje n’ajo di? – My father, are you
forcing me to marry a bad husband?
Nne mo, ina-eduzim na-eje n’ajo di?- My mother, are you
forcing me to marry a bad husband?
Onye unu choro , a choghim ya -The person you desire, I
don’t want him
Onye ahu unu na- choghi yanwa bu obi mo-The one you do
not want is my choice
Anyi g’ebi n’udo- We shall live in peace
Anyi g’ebi n’ihunanya- We shall live in love
Chineke nyere anyi aka- God help us
Chineke gozienu anyi – God bless us
Olisebr’uwa biko jikota anyi onu- Almighty God please unite
Ife anyi cholu bu k’anyi bili n’udo- What we want is to live
Ajo di ajoka Chineke biko – Bad husband is too horrible, God
Many of our social comments, moral codes and guides are embedded in songs by these musicians. For example, a mother who is instructing her child on the creed of the community might find the product of musicians useful, so that the child will grow up accountable to his actions and devoid of social misfit (Ibekwe n.d.). In times of social distress, musicians give a sense of hope to those in need through encouraging people to never be despaired or discouraged no matter how bad the situation is. According to Eyre (2001), during the 90s, with the horrifically mounting toll of AIDS deaths, and a general sense of crisis arising from the nation’s economic woes, more and more people have turned to Christianity, and to gospel music.
2.4. Bringing hope to the masses
Thorsen (2004), adds on that Gospel music is “spreading like bushfire over Africa”, and its rise can easily be linked with the general societal crisis. Gospel in Africa is rather defined by its lyrical messages of Christian salvation and Thorsen (2004) has it that “Gospel is the message of Christ, having left the space of the church and entered the arena of popular culture and often the gospel genre represents the testimony of “born-again” Christians”. Gospel musicians quite often base their lyrics on the woes of everyday hardships and suffering. Gospel music often showed ways of handling the crisis, not escaping from it. They take up issues such as disease, suffering and death, spiritual poverty and many other societal problems thus the gospel genre is portrayed as an escape phenomenon in a time of crisis (Thorsen, 2004). Gospel musicians use a two-tiered approach to their audience that is: first a recognition of social misery in this world, but then an offer of remedy by turning away from the world to seek salvation through God. One is then left to wonder whether the assumed previous lack of total trust in God is also the source of the misery (Thorsen, 2004). Gospel musicians also provide ethical guidelines, through comments on and rejection of corruption and in Zimbabwe, the genre often provides a communal acknowledgment of the pain by pointing out some things that are wrong and cause suffering, but it rejects collective action to rectify the wrongs and instead only offers an individual solution in salvation thus through gospel music, artists hoped to engage in a radical transformation of society (Thorsen, 2001).
2.5. The voice of the voiceless
Due to inequalities that oppress people without resources and power thus most musicians, position themselves as “watchdogs” to all occurring events in the society to provide a social critic and guide the people according to the prevailing norms. (Ibekwe n.d.). The scholar also stressed out that, “…even a message that is considered implicating, dangerous, hurting or abusive is conveyed through music without minding the consequences and provided it is aimed at bettering the condition of the oppressed”, and this implies is that musicians are society’s spokes-men, defender of the defenceless and pointers to social order. At community levels, musicians are not at all times accepted because of their out-spoken personalities. Even at national levels music provides avenues for correcting social disorder either by criticizing the constituted authority or a political power (Ibekwe n.d.). For instance, according to Banning (2001), a singer named Bekithemba Khumalo made international news when Zimabwean producers refused to record his album because it contained a song called “The President is a Thief.” Khumalo eventually made his recording, but then shops in his hometown of Bulawayo refused to sell it. This shows the extent at which musicians can go in terms of criticizing the government.
In the early 2000s, many musicians felt strongly motivated to address political realities in their music. Those who dare to do so take enormous risks were musicians would be interrogated and threatened. Thomas Mapfumo, who released the Chimurenga Explosion album which instantly rose to the top of the charts with two controversial songs “Mamvemve” and “Disaster.”, and these two songs were among the most popular of 2000, a year in which the ruling party ZANU-PF suffered its two painful defeats at the polls, as people became enlightened by his songs and also because Mapfumo concerts were seen by some as informal MDC rallies and may have played a role in MDC’s good showing in the 2000 elections. (Banning, 2001). Another veteran singer, Oliver Mtukudzi, took substantial heat over the past years when one of his songs, “Wasakara,” meaning, “You are worn out.” The following is a synthesis of two translations as according to Banning (2001);
Admit it (Accept it)
Admit it, yes you
Admit it, just that
Admit it, you are wrinkled
Admit it, you are worn out
Growing old. What is growing old?
You are over the peak
You cannot do what you used to do
You are old
You, Mother, you’ve become aged, you can no longer do it, (refering to work)
You’ve grown old. Don’t refuse (to acknowledge this)
And you, Father, look and see
Even your daughter is a grown woman
You are advanced in age. Don’t deny it
Getting old is a reflection of time
Getting old is a sign of time past
Outwardly you are old
Your face is wrinkled
But your soul is young
Regarding the line addressed to the father who is “advanced in age,” Banning (2001) observes, “This line is also a phrase commonly used to exempt elders from working in the fields. Thus Tuku (a nickname referring to Oliver Mutukudzi) discourages those who have grown old from doing the unspecified ‘work’ by using a traditionally held concept of elders allowing the younger generation to take over.” This supports the notion that the song lyrics well applied to Zimbabwe’s (former) president. The ‘Wasakara’ was interpreted by many as a call for aging Robert Mugabe (who is now the former president) to resign and a lot of upheaval movements occurred as a result of these protest songs.
2.6. Consideration of music as a career
Another vital task music and musicians execute to address issues of social instability is to advocate for the reduction of unemployment within the society. According to Ibekwe (n.d), she argued that many African countries are flooded with able bodied men, women and youths who are jobless. For instance discussing about unemployment in a country such as Nigeria where natural resources abound, as agued by Ibekwe (n.d.), sounds ridiculous. She describes a condition where “excess oil accrue… gas is being flared, coal deposit abound, precious stones like granite abound in commercial quantity, palm plantation that was a major source of government income in years preceding independence have virtually been abandoned…Industries are not created and idle youths roam about the streets creating insecurity everywhere”. The greater percentage of crimes that ravage many societies comes from these restless citizens who would have been more productive if they were adequately engaged. In this direction, music and musicians provide aid and succour to many who engage themselves in one aspect of music business for their livelihood. Many young boys and girls have become amateur musicians just to make both ends meet and some are involved in the sale of musical works. Even many of the school leavers have taken dancing as market or business promoters instead of staying idle and causing trouble in society (Ibekwe n.d.).
2.7. Musicians at the fore front in cultural erosion
Most popular or pop musicians have composed music that is contrary to societal norms, values and heritage and especially in Africa pop musician have become agents of cultural imperialism that is promoting a western type of culture in the minds of the people (Viriri, 2011). In Zimbabwe the popular urban grooves music (local beats which arc fused with R;B, soul, reggae and hip-hop) provides a cultural diet that is sadly unbalanced. The artists have, according to Viriri (2011), “imbibed chaff from western culture, which undermines and negatively affects the stability of cultural sensibilities of the Zimbabwean youth”. This particular music genre has been criticized as negatively influencing the Zimbabwean youth.
2.8. Increased Juvenal delinquency by musicians
The Zimbabwean society has faced a multitude of problems arising from high rates of alcohol abuse and drug dependency, among the urban youth in particular. Most of the youth, according to surveys conducted, either drink excessively or are on some kind of intoxicating drug or substance (Viriri, 2011). The scholar adds on that, “although the overall number of people infected with the HIV virus has reduced from twenty-five percent in 2001 to nineteen point eight percent in 2008, more and more youths are getting infected with the killer disease”. Moreover, some scholars suggest that a significant number of young people are engaging in criminal activities, and a good number of them are in prison or already have criminal records for crimes such as armed robbery, theft, rape, murder, possession of illegal drugs, grievous bodily harm, fraud and extortion (Viriri 2011). These crimes have been attributed to the lyrics of urban groove artists such as Maskiri Extra Large and Winky D which promotes mischief, fornication, adultery, corruption, hate speech, violence, alcoholism, substance and drug abuse, and that is how the music affects the youth of Zimbabwe and ultimately Zimbabwean society. Dancehall music by artistes such as Killer T, Soul Jah Love, Bounty Lisa, Lady Squanda, Quonfused, Seh Calaz, Dadza D, Shinsoman, Level 2, Guspy Warrior and many others, has brought about “slackness”, “vulgarity” and “obscene behaviour” among Zimbabwe’s youth (Zindi, n.d.).
From the above assessment, the role of musicians have be analysed on how it affects the behaviour of people from different angles for instance through protect songs to liberate themselves from oppression. This literature will give the researcher a starting point on where and how to conduct the study within the context of urban areas of Zimbabwe in order to understand the behaviours of the youths.