Kwaito, one of the most important music genres and cultural innovations to emerge in Post-Apartheid South Africa is music that is characterized by being ‘after the struggle.’ It is a kind of music that branches off of the genres House and Hip-Hop. It is seen as being apolitical and does not pay attention to the political side of South Africa. However, politicians have been known to use Kwaito to relate to the youth of South Africa. Furthermore, Kwaito is also seen to be related to American styles of music through the kinds of messages they promote and convey. A strong name in the Kwaito genre is Arthur Mafokate who is considered one of the founding fathers of this new and upbeat style of music.
Basically a type of dance music, most Kwaito songs are composed of slowed down House tracks and repetitive lyrics. This genre relates well to the youth of South Africa due to its appealing lines and words. The lyrics of Kwaito tend to mention and possess rebellious, defiant, and illegal values. Also, the genre of Kwaito music has been attributed with the young lingo/dialect and fashion norms. Due to this, the music is usually listened to at all-night parties that are referred to as ‘bashes.’
History and Politics
This genre of music started emerging in the 1990s and continued to grow throughout the decade. There have been traces of Marabi music from the 1920’s and Kwela music from the 1950’s found in Kwaito. This is because there is a combination of multiple rhythms from those time periods and genres. Moreover, Kwaito was influenced by many famous artists from the past including legends such as Miriam Makeba and Brenda Fassie. These influences helped Kwaito keep a strong base because it now had ties to music before the end of Apartheid and during the struggle for freedom. With so many historical influences on the genre, Kwaito needed something modern and new to make it its own style. That is where styles such as African Hip-Hop, Dub, Jazz and UK House come in. These styles helped form and make Kwaito its own sound.
Furthermore, the word Kwaito is derived from the Afrikaans word kwaai, which translates to the word ‘angry’ in English. In everyday dialect, negative words or phrases often acquire a positive connotation or ‘cool’ status. Kwaito is about the township, knowing about the township, understanding the township, walking the walk, talking the talk and most importantly, being proud of these aspects. The townships are being celebrated by the youth of South Africa in Kwaito music. However, this is interesting because the townships main purpose for being created was to keep a ready supply of cheap labor under control by the Apartheid government.
This is where politicians nowadays use Kwaito to provoke and ignite the spirit within South African youth. Even though Kwaito is recognized as apolitical there have been political tactics that use this new form of music to help connect with the younger people of South Africa. It has been seen and done by many,...