Popular Culture In Africa

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Popular culture is the culture of everyday lives and we, according to Browne and Brown (2001:3), have seen our popular culture in ourselves. This essay compares the tragic engagements of young Africans with contemporaneous issues relating to culture and popular culture, through the fictional novels of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Sozaboy (1994), and Kopano Matlwa, Coconut (2007). Particular attention is paid to the stumbling blocks Sozaboy’s Mene and Coconut’s Ofilwe Tlou and Fikile Twala encounter with issues concerning education, language, and alienation. Firstly, Sozaboy is a war novel set against the Biafran War and narrates the journey of a young Nigerian man, Mene. Mene, is presented as an apprentice-driver who joins the army following the outbreak…show more content…
In his introductory note Saro-Wiwa explains that Rotten English is “a mixture of Nigerian pidgin English, broken English and occasional flashes of good even idiomatic English (Introduction, xx). Saro-Wiwa attempts to construct a (Rotten English) bridge for all parties involved in the Biafran War, to cross cultural and ethnic barriers in his attempt against dominant discourses of power. Mene speaks this broken form of English to not only to display the kaleidoscope of languages present in Nigeria, but also in an attempt to mock the supposed honour, the “prouding”, the “singing” and the “shining” uniform that the war promises (Saro-Wiwa, 1994:53), by employing the technique of anomaly. Although Mene’s restricted vocabulary is silencing to the extent that it does not allow him to fully explain the immense fear and the dread the war dragged with it, “these silences, these occlusions and fumblings for expression exert a marvellous power” (Saro-Wiwa, Introduction, xx). Saro-Wiwa authenticates the experiences, confusion and disillusionment of Mene through the broken English. The language has an affective resonance which allows the reader to experience the deepest of emotions stirred up inside Mene by the war, even though Mene says “I cannot tell how I am feeling” (Saro-Wiwa, 1994:53). The Rotten English used by the narrator is emotionally transparent and is…show more content…
Fanon argues that ‘to speak … means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of civilization,’ (Fanon, 1986:17–18) revealing here the significant connection between language and identity; to speak English is to assume civilization. It is telling that in South Africa, despite having 11 official languages, English has assumed hegemonic status. According to Spencer (2009: 70), Matlwa seems to be suggesting that when Fifi uses language as an excuse to exclude her mother from participating in certain aspects of her life, she is effectively still being controlled by others‘ use of the language: she is forced to disavow her mother and thus to deny a part of herself. The freedom Fifi finds in English is ambiguous indeed. However, what separates Ofilwe from Fikile in terms of their perceptions of language and accents is that there is a point toward the end of Ofilwe‘s narrative where she actually begins to attempt to start implementing Sepedi words into her everyday speech, perhaps as a generational desire to get back to her roots, in a manner of speaking. Fikile takes it upon herself to perfect her accent, she explains her motive, “People don‘t realise how much their accent says

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