|The South African hip hop community and culture are thriving. Photo Credit: Flickr|
As across most of Africa, when hip hop first came to South Africa many youths simply imitated what they saw and heard from American hip hop artists. But South Africa, unlike the rest of the continent, was in the throes of apartheid, and the hip hop revolution that gripped the United States inspired thousands of South African youth fighting their own revolution. The lyrics of American groups like Public Enemy and their song "Fight the Power" had a special resilience among South African youth.
Fighting apartheid and censorship, South African youth embraced all aspects of hip hop culture, including graffiti and break dancing. They also took the music and transformed it into local expressions of culture, frustration, and hope in order to tell their own stories. The film features interviews with artists like the influential Prophets of Da City (POC) and the all-female rap group Godessa.
Fighting apartheid and censorship, South African youth embraced all aspects of hip hop culture, including graffiti and break dancing.
One of the more controversial issues the film touches the way in which class struggles and racism have changed form, yet persisted, in post-apartheid South Africa. The rise of a black elite has not changed the conditions of the majority of black South Africans, many of whom feel they're now being exploited by both white and black.
Ironically, many of the black communities which were organizing to fight apartheid 20 years ago are now organizing to fight exploitation of the poor and working class. They are forming anti-privatization movements and committees for the working poor, and again fighting for living wages and against corruption. They are also fighting the move South Africa has made towards privatization and market-dominated economics, moves that many poor South Africans feel threaten labor unions and worker rights.
The film, shot in the Cape Flats just outside Cape Town, points out that racism and racial segregation in South Africa are still very real issues. The film gives a voice and a face to the anger and frustration among young black South Africans who feel that upward mobility is still being impeded by their class and race.
The film points out that racism and racial segregation in South Africa are still very real issues.
Hip Hop Revolution represents South Africa's contribution to the recent releases of films on hip hop in Africa. Films made just in the last five years include Counting Headz: South Afrika's Sistaz in Hip Hop; Hip Hop Colony (Kenya); Diamonds in the Rough (Uganda); and Democracy in Senegal. Hip Hop Revolution has yet to find a distributor, but is making the rounds of film festivals.
Hip Hop Revolution (2006)
48 minutes. Director/Producer: Weaam Williams
The Film's Official Website
Contributed by Msia Kibona Clark, the Ugandan Country Specialist for Amnesty International and the Book Review Editor for allAfrica.com. Reprinted with permission from allAfrica.com. Copyright © 2007 allAfrica.com. All rights reserved.
To read another Global Envision film review, see New Film Focuses on Life and Debt in Africa.
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