The Emergence of Hip-Hop Subculture among the Khwe


The Emergence of Hip-Hop Subculture among the Khwe
The Emergence of Hip-Hop Subculture among the
Khwe Bushmen of Platfontein, Northern Cape,
South Africa
Khwe Hip Hop Stars
Source: Itunu Bodunrin, 2014 ©
Submitted to the Faculty of Humanities, School of Applied Human Sciences, University of
KwaZulu-Natal in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Social Sciences, in
The Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) 2014
I, Itunu Ayodeji Bodunrin (student number 213551926), hereby declare that this dissertation
is my own original work. All citations, references and borrowed ideas have been duly
acknowledged. None of the present work has been submitted previously for any degree or
examination in any other University.
Signature:__________________________ Date:__________________ Place:_________
Supervisor: Prof. Ruth Teer-Tomaselli
Signature:__________________________ Date:__________________ Place:_________
Thanks go to my supervisor, Professor Ruth-Teer Tomaselli, for mentoring and giving me the
much needed confidence to finish up the writing of this dissertation in record time. I also must
thank Professor Keyan Tomaselli on whose platform this research was carried out. His longstanding collaboration and research in Platfontein as with many Bushmen communities in
Southern Africa provided the contextual background for this study.
Indeed, I must thank the entire Khwe community, for allowing me into their homes. Special
thanks to the Kabuattas, the Mahundus, Nthohos, Shiwaras and other families who made
Platfontein my home. I am also thankful to all the Khwe hip-hoppers particularly the music
group; DRAP JJ star and the Blood Eye gang as well as other individuals such as Diana, Anel,
Sonia and Ronica, who were also receptive, supportive and instrumental in my integration into
the community’s social circles and nightlife. Special thanks to my translator and host, Andre
Nthoho for ensuring my safety and for assisting in navigating my way through the Platfontein
Further thanks go to senior CCMS researchers within the Rethinking Indigeneity project such as
Dr. Julie Grant, Shanade Barnabas, Andrew Dicks, Thomas Hart, and others whose individual
inputs and previous works in Platfontein sparked many ideas in this dissertation. I must also
thank Johann and Elsabi van Schalkwyk, my hospitable host in Kimberley.
Finally, a sincere thank you to my parent Anthony and Paulina Bodunrin for instilling in me, a
critical mindset which helped in my challenge of the Bushmen status quo via this study; and my
siblings, Sarah, Ayotola and Titilayo Bodunrin, thanks for being supportive in my two year
academic sojourn away from home.
The resettlement and relocation of the displaced Khwe Bushmen to Platfontein (near the city of
Kimberley) in 2004, after years of living on the fringe, meant they were thrust into
postmodernity or even ‘hypermodernity’. While the older people struggle badly in their
encounter, the younger Khwe generation seem to have adjusted to their new milieu,
appropriating urban popular cultures such as the hip-hop music and style for local expression.
This is facilitated by the local radio station, their proximity to the city of Kimberley, as well as
their gradual access to new media technologies.
In an attempt to provide a snapshot of the resulting complex identities, radical changes,
generational rifts, tensions and clashes; the dissertation ultimately reveals the Khwe Bushmen
general response to globalisation in a late postmodern era. Hip-hop - a global youth culture is
thus used in this study to reveal the extent to which globalisation affects the traditional Khwe
Bushman indigenous culture and structures.
Although as a marginalised group, hip-hop offers the young Bushmen an avenue for expression
and creativity as they negotiate through the restricting features of post-modernity, nevertheless,
the culture seems to influence youth delinquencies, deviancy and class based youth structure, a
pattern that radically alters the once pre-modern traditional Bushman society. The study finds out
that the notion of ‘class’ which has long been dismissed by many postmodern youth scholars as
the basis for identity formation, is in fact applicable in a modernising society such as the Khwe,
where only a tiny fraction and class of people have access to new media technologies and hiphop.
The study, a result of a lived experience among the Khwe people relies on ethnography and the
subculture theory, to understand and make sense of the activities of the young Khwe hip-hoppers
as well as the emerging class among the Khwe people. The dissertation contributes to the
discourse on the contradictions between global and local cultures in post-colonial and
postmodern Africa; a reminder that global cultural forms are taken up in diverse ways in local
Keywords: sub-culture, Bushman, hip-hop, music culture and style, youth culture,
List of Acronyms
African National Congress
Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies
Centre for Culture, Media and Society
Democratic Alliance
Do It Yourself
Reconstruction and Development Programme
South Africa
South African Advertising Research Foundation
South African Defence Force
South African San Institute
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
South West Africa People's Organisation
United States of America
Table of Contents
Declaration................................................................................................................................................... ii
Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................................... iv
Abstract........................................................................................................................................................ v
List of Acronyms ........................................................................................................................................ vi
Table of Contents ...................................................................................................................................... vii
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................. 1
Encountering the Bushman Who Looked Like Me................................................................................... 1
Locating ‘Global’ Hip-hop in the ‘Local’ Khwe Community .................................................................. 6
Youth: As young as you feel ..................................................................................................................... 8
Rethinking Indigeneity............................................................................................................................ 10
Naming Issues ......................................................................................................................................... 11
The Primitivist Romantic Representation and View of the Bushman .................................................... 13
The Origin of the San or Bushmen ......................................................................................................... 15
The Khwe and !Xun ............................................................................................................................ 16
Platfontein: the promise of a new beginning .......................................................................................... 21
An Outsider’s view of Platfontein .......................................................................................................... 23
Dilapidating Facilities and Perceived Government Neglect ................................................................... 26
The Khwe Encounter with Modern Technology..................................................................................... 28
Impact of Modernisation/Technology on Khwe Culture ........................................................................ 29
History of Hip-Hop in Khwe .................................................................................................................. 29
Synopsis of Dissertation ......................................................................................................................... 30
CHAPTER 2: THE RISE AND FALL OF CULTURE - Literature Review ...................................... 32
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................. 32
Definitions and Meanings of Culture ...................................................................................................... 33
High or Elite Culture............................................................................................................................... 37
Popular Culture ....................................................................................................................................... 38
Mass or Commodity Culture ................................................................................................................... 39
Understanding the ‘Popular’ ................................................................................................................... 40
Popular Music Culture ............................................................................................................................ 42
Youth Culture and Youth Study.............................................................................................................. 44
Youth Subculture .................................................................................................................................... 45
Hip-hop Culture ...................................................................................................................................... 48
Origin and History .................................................................................................................................. 48
The ‘Culture’ of Hip-hop ........................................................................................................................ 49
Adapting Hip-hop in Local Contexts ...................................................................................................... 50
‘The Afro Hip-hop’: Adaptation of Hip-hop in Africa ........................................................................... 51
Case Studies across Africa ...................................................................................................................... 52
Hip-hop in South Africa.......................................................................................................................... 53
The Complexity of Post-Apartheid South African Hip-hop ................................................................... 53
The business of hip-hop Africa ............................................................................................................... 55
Hip-hop of Deviance, Resistance and Violence ...................................................................................... 55
Globalisation – The erosion of local boundaries .................................................................................... 57
Media/Cultural Imperialism Thesis ........................................................................................................ 59
Youths and Media ................................................................................................................................... 62
The New Media Culture.......................................................................................................................... 63
The New Media Technologies ................................................................................................................ 64
Television and the Internet .................................................................................................................. 64
New Media as a Generational Attribute .................................................................................................. 66
Conclusion .............................................................................................................................................. 70
CHAPTER 3: THEORETICAL APPROACH ...................................................................................... 72
The Subculture Theory ........................................................................................................................... 72
Criticism of Subculture Theory........................................................................................................... 78
Cultural Appropriation Theory ............................................................................................................... 80
The Theoretical Frames of ‘Appropriation’ ............................................................................................ 82
CHAPTER 4: METHODOLOGY ........................................................................................................... 86
Ethnography ............................................................................................................................................ 86
Self-Reflexivity ....................................................................................................................................... 88
‘Insider’ research .................................................................................................................................... 89
Ethics and Anonymity............................................................................................................................. 90
Triangulation ........................................................................................................................................... 90
Participatory Observation ....................................................................................................................... 90
Field Notes .......................................................................................................................................... 91
Purposive Snowball Sampling ................................................................................................................ 92
Interviews................................................................................................................................................ 93
Language Barrier ................................................................................................................................ 94
Focus Groups .......................................................................................................................................... 94
Previous Khwe Rap Recordings ............................................................................................................. 95
Thematic Analysis .................................................................................................................................. 95
Graham Murdock Symmetrical Analysis of subcultures ........................................................................ 96
Affects From the Field ............................................................................................................................ 97
Nollywood Factor ............................................................................................................................... 98
Attention from Female Fans ............................................................................................................. 101
Conclusion ............................................................................................................................................ 101
CHAPTER 5: Data Presentation and Analysis .................................................................................... 102
Section One .............................................................................................................................................. 103
History of Dependency ......................................................................................................................... 103
The Payment Day Buzz..................................................................................................................... 104
Revisiting the Unemployment Issue in Platfontein............................................................................... 106
Nightlife ................................................................................................................................................ 107
A Spiritual People ................................................................................................................................. 108
The Khwe Traditional Music ................................................................................................................ 109
The Emerging Social Class ................................................................................................................... 111
Generational Divide in Khwe Community: ‘Traditional’ Versus ‘Modern’......................................... 112
Section Two.............................................................................................................................................. 115
The Khwe Hip-hop Scene ..................................................................................................................... 115
The DRAP JJ Stars............................................................................................................................ 115
The Blood Eye Gang ......................................................................................................................... 116
The BICs: female Hip-hoppers in Khwe........................................................................................... 117
Dressing ................................................................................................................................................ 119
Violence, Crime and Drug Taking ........................................................................................................ 119
Producing Hip-hop ................................................................................................................................ 120
Performing Hip-hop .............................................................................................................................. 121
Religion and Hip-hop: From the stage to the pulpit .............................................................................. 122
Uses of Hip-hop in Khwe: ‘Pushing the Bushman Forward’ ............................................................... 123
Factors that affect the Appropriation of Hip-hop.................................................................................. 124
The Internet ....................................................................................................................................... 124
Source: Facebook .................................................................................................................................. 125
Television (Cable Satellite) ............................................................................................................... 125
Interpersonal Contact ....................................................................................................................... 126
Print Media ........................................................................................................................................... 126
Radio (XK fm) ................................................................................................................................... 126
Aspects most affected by Hip-hop Culture in Khwe Community ........................................................ 127
Language ........................................................................................................................................... 127
Adult-youth relationship ................................................................................................................... 128
Dressing ............................................................................................................................................ 128
Sexuality ........................................................................................................................................... 129
What Does the Future hold? The fear of being like the ‘Griquas’ ........................................................ 130
Section 3 ................................................................................................................................................... 131
Rethinking class-based youth culture and identity................................................................................ 131
Analysis Conclusion ............................................................................................................................. 133
CHAPTER 6: Conclusion and Recommendations ............................................................................... 135
BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................................................... 137
APPENDICES ......................................................................................................................................... 161
Appendix A ........................................................................................................................................... 161
Interview Questions (Youths) ............................................................................................................... 161
Appendix B ........................................................................................................................................... 162
Interview Questions (Adults) ................................................................................................................ 162
Appendix C ........................................................................................................................................... 163
Focus group Questions (Youth Subculture) .......................................................................................... 163
Appendix D ........................................................................................................................................... 164
Focus group Questions (Adults) ........................................................................................................... 164
Appendix E ........................................................................................................................................... 165
Informed Consent Form ........................................................................................................................ 165
Encountering the Bushman2 Who Looked Like Me
As I hobbled into the back of an open-roof truck, a ‘free ride3’ to the Platfontein township,4 I
reminded myself while scattering for warmth, on a typical Northern Cape winter morning that I
was indeed outside my comfort zones and was literally frozen by my passion to pursue what I
consider the ‘real story’ of the young Khwe Bushmen.
Just about a year earlier, I had been among the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Centre for Culture,
Media and Society5 (CCMS) Honours students who visited Platfontein for the first time. Before
that trip, my classmates, I anticipated what a ‘Bushman’ would look like in the ‘real life’ (of
course many of us had seen them via Jamie Uys’ The gods must be crazy6). The thought of
seeing them hunt and gather food in their traditional !Xai skin clothing was potentially exciting
to us.
Notorious B.I.G. is an American rapper whose original name is Christopher Wallace. "Things Done Change” is the
second track from Notorious B.I.G.'s 1994 debut album Ready to Die. The song reveals the deviance that has
birthed hip-hop since the earlier years in the United States.
I understand the controversies surrounding the names ‘Bushman’ and ‘San’ and have discussed this further in this
There is no public transport from Kimberley to Platfontein (where I initially resided); hence I had to navigate my
way to the township through any means available to me. My travails are further developed in the methodology
The Platfontein township is the home to the Khwe Bushmen.
CCMS organises annual trips to the Kalahari desert as part of research track titled ‘Rethinking Indigeneity’
The gods must be crazy is a Jamie Uys’ 1980 film which portrayed the Bushmen as a primitive desert settler with
no knowledge of the world beyond (Wikipedia).
Alas, we were disappointed; my disappointment at never seeing ‘the Bushman’ in Platfontein is
captured in my field note in 2013 which reads; “It feels selfish and stupid that I expected to see
the Khwe Bushmen in loins. The youths I saw today were nothing like a Bushmen, they were
just like me.”
I was however taken aback on this day, by the particular dress and style of certain Khwe youths
which was distinct, and in stark contrast to their rural township. They were accessorised in
trendy outfits (though of low-quality) such as sneakers, baseball caps, saggy skinny trousers,
blinking studs, chains and tattoos, as some hum to the music blaring from their headsets. After
conversing with them, I realised they had a sizzling passion for hip-hop, a music culture which
began in the community in 2009. Hip-hop meant more than just popular youth culture; it is a tool
and a platform through which the Khwe youth register themselves as a people present in
modernity. Hip-hop was used to penetrate through the restricting urban spaces and system which
generally maligns them.
I became more fascinated when I learned about their maximization of a very limited access to
new media technologies such as satellite television and the internet7 to attune themselves with
trends in the global hip-hop community. This maximisation of a limited access and space
includes the construction of a multipurpose, do-it-yourself (DIY) bedroom-recording studio for
music production in Platfontein. I considered this a practice of resourcefulness in the context of
their limited resources and exposure (cf. Wilson, 2011).
At the end of my entire trip, which included visits to two other Bushmen communities in the
Southern Kalahari, I realised that, the Khwe youths were more ‘modern’ when compared to
youths from other Bushman communities (such as the ≠Khomani Bushmen). I wrote the
following field note in 2013 of the Khwe youths:
… they (the Khwe youths) seemed less concerned about their history and
antecedence as primitives. All they dream is becoming hip-hop-stars. They wore
big shoes and modern tattoos of their nicknames like American hip-hop artist…
Few people own satellite cable televisions (DStv) in Khwe, while the only source of internet for the youth is the
mobile phone internet
and had the same dreams as many of us from the city. I wonder what the future
holds for their unique Bushman culture…
I was determined to undertake a study which would look into this emerging cultural pattern and
style of the Khwe youths. Of particular interest to me was the implication of this new fond
modern way of expression and style, on the Khwe indigenous culture. What are the general
perceptions of hip-hop in Khwe? And what effects does hip-hop has on this indigenous
I never had a grasp of things until May, 2014, during my second visit to the Khwe the
community. I had sighted an elderly couple, James and Judy Kabuatta, working assiduously on
their subsistent farmland in the blistering heat of the midday sun. They were stunned when I
offered to assist in the harvest of their groundnut8 farm produce (apparently shocked at the sight
of a ‘modern’ young man working on the farm). So shocked were they that Judy (the wife)
hurriedly dashed off to call upon their 18 years old son Rusky, who had vowed never to get
involved in his parents’ “dirty and crude practices”. When I questioned Rusky as to why he
neglects his household responsibilities, his response was simple and plain; ‘I am too busy making
hip-hop music’ he said. Rusky and his brother Robert had been involved with hip-hop in
Platfontein since 2009. The fact that they dedicate much of their time to hip-hop without any
financial gain worries their parents. My presence at the farm had shown it was not impossible to
be a modern youth and be compliant to one’s collective family responsibility.
The story of the Kabuattas is similar to that of many families in the indigenous Khwe community
who continue to struggle to deal with the deviancy and delinquencies that accompanies
modernisation and acculturation of foreign youth cultures (such as hip-hop) by the younger
generation. Unlike the psychological deviance parents generally contend with in teenagers and
adolescents (see Steinberg, 2001); the Khwe situation is far more complicated as a result of a
truly long sustained period of the older generations away from modernity.
The Khwe like most Bushman groups in Southern Africa lived a hunter gatherer lifestyle before
Bantu-speaking and European settlers stressed their nomadic existence. They have lived
The land in Platfontein is hard and infertile. Hence, families who farm, are limited to the cultivation of certain
deep rooted crops like groundnut
unsettled lives since wrenched from their Desert homes in Namibia and Angola due to the
exigencies of post-colonial war. After the war in which they fought on the side of the South
African Defence Force (SADF) in 1990, many were moved to South Africa9, granted citizenship
and resettled in makeshift camp tents in a place called Schmidtsdrift (approximately 71
kilometres west of Kimberley), from where they were again moved to their permanent homes in
Platfontein, a few kilometers outside the city of Kimberley, Northern Cape in January 200410
(see White 1995; Robbins, 2004; Swart 2004; Kleinbooi, 2007).
Due to a limited experience of living in a modern environment, the Khwe elderly struggle badly
in their encounter with postmodernity11 (Robbins, 2007; Barnabas, 2009; Dicks, 2011; Grant &
Dicks, 2014; Den Hertog, 2013) and in the face these struggles (which includes unemployment
due to lack of modern skills, perceived government neglect, alcoholism and drug abuse etc.), the
small youth subculture identified in this study is embracing post-modernity and the site of
expression is the global hip-hop music performance. This is facilitated by the local radio (XKFM) and a gradual access to other media technologies such as satellite television and the mobile
phone internet.
Although hip-hop amongst the Khwe is localised to reflect the present socio-cultural and
economic struggles of the people, it also brings with it the complexity of a postmodern youth
culture, entrenched in deviance and civil youth delinquency (see Ginwright, 2004). The present
era in the lives of the Khwe Bushmen of Platfontein may be likened to Britain’s post-war era
when youths’ access to money12 and mass produced technologies led to increased independence
from family and formation of music and style-driven youth subcultures (see Chambers, 1985;
Hall and Jefferson, 1976; Hebdige, 1979; Bobcock, 1993; Chaney, 1996; Leys, 1983). However,
unlike the British-postwar subculture studies which were largely focused on the cultural
activities of city-dwelling youths, the present study focuses on the activities of an ethnic
The Khwe relocation to South Africa from Namibia is developed later in this Chapter.
The Khwe relocation and resettlements is developed later in this Chapter
Post-modern era is thought to have begun in the last decade of the 20 last century. An era in which new media
revolution and transformations stripped culture of its capacity to function in any linear or autonomous state
(Jameson, 1991: 27)
Like the British post-war youths, the most influential hip-hoppers in Khwe are college drop outs, who now work
as security guard in farmland to sustain their lifestyles (see Chapter 6)
Figure 1.1: Some enthusiastic Khwe hip-hoppers performing for the CCMS team in August, 2013.
Source: Itunu Bodunrin, 2013 ©
Figure 1.2: Rusky Kabuatta at home in Platfontein in June, 2014.
Source: Thom Pierce 2014 ©
Locating ‘Global’ Hip-hop in the ‘Local’ Khwe Community
The global flow of images and information through the new media13 communication
technologies has enabled access to commodified forms of contemporary cultures (Appadurai,
1990; Arnett, 2005; Burgess 2006; Kruse 2009; Warren & Evitt, 2010; Chopra & Gajjala, 2011).
In Africa, athough these technologies were initially restricted to the elites in the big cities, they
are gradually becoming available to individuals in remote rural communities. The implication of
this is that locals now have more and more access to social connections which increases their
knowledge bases, giving them new tastes of foreign culture (Shivji, 2006). By embracing
technologies and adapting to the rapid social, economic and environmental changes taking place
around the world, it is believed the traditional societies will be transformed like the modern ones
(Arko-Achemfuor, 2012).
Hip-hop, a music culture14 which began in the late 1970s among the African American youth
population in the city of New York, United States - emerged in many Africa communities
following the trajectory described above. The fact that it can be reproduced, appropriated and
adapted within different national, local, social and linguistic environment makes hip-hop one of
the most visible example of the intersection of global and local youth cultures (McLeod, 1999;
Perullo & Fenn, 2003).
Although ethnomusicologists have for several decades been conducting research on the
transnational flow of commodified forms of music (such as hip-hop) into Africa through
technologies (Erlmann, 1997); many of these studies have been criticised for failing to focus on
the effects of these commodified forms on a significant local audiences at the receiving end of
the spectrum who Dennis McQuail (2010) regard as the main mechanism of control of global
culture products (see also Erlmann, 1997; Barber, 2007).
Hence, the present study takes a microscopic look at the activities of a hip-hop youth subculture
in a small rural indigenous Khwe community who have appropriated hip-hop (a global youth
culture) and transformed it for their own local expression and use. However due to the
New media technologies include digital television, cell phones, the internet and all internet-based social
applications. This is discussed extensively in Chapter 2.
Hip-hop is an art but also culture (See, Fenn & Perullo, 2000). The cultural frame of hip-hop is discussed in
chapter two.
uniqueness of the Khwe age-long indigenous culture,15 the newly constructed identity and style
of the Khwe youth hip-hoppers are challenged by the traditional-minded adults.
In an attempt to present these complex interrelationships, tensions and conflicts within the Khwe
community, the study reveals a sharp contradiction and the intersection of ‘the local’ and ‘the
global’ (music) cultures. Hence the Chapter two of the study captures the individual peculiarities
of both the local and the global cultures (cf. Tomaselli, 2005). The subculture theory and
ethnographic traditions which are popular within youth music culture research, offers subtle
ways in which to understand the complexities of hip-hop culture in Khwe community.
The study contributes to the field of media and cultural studies in a number of ways;
To the longstanding discourse on the contradictions of modernity in postcolonial Africa.
In line with Bronislaw Manilowski16 (1945), that studies which focus on the changing
culture of the native people in Africa who are affected by worldwide civilisation, enables
one to reconstruct how contemporary culture clash with original culture or how they are
incorporated into it. The study will assist in the understanding of the concepts of ‘global
culture’ and ‘local culture’ in the present historic time (cf. Lionnet, 1992).
It contributes to the ongoing discourse on the impact of new media technologies in local
communities; a reminder that global cultural forms are taken up in diverse ways in local
contexts (See Srinivasan, 2006; Buddle, 2004)
And finally the study adds a new dimension to class-based discourse in postmodern youth
subcultural studies (Thornton, 1995; Bennett, 1999a).
The culture of the Khwe like other San groups is premised on the mythical values and images of primitiveness as
the descendants of the so-called first people (cf. Tomaselli, 2003).
Bronislaw Malinowski was a Polish anthropologist who made extensive trips to Africa in the 1930s, carrying out
anthropological survey of indigenous groups.
Figure 1.3: A hip-hop music group from the Khwe community; the DRAP JJ Stars of Platfontein performing at
Askham, Kalahari Desert, during the 2013 Kalahari Desert festival.
Source: XKfm (SABC) – gift to the author. 2013 ©
Youth: As young as you feel
The term ‘youth’ is perhaps among the most frequently used words in this dissertation; hence
there is a need for proper definition of the concept, particularly its use within the context of this
study. The term in recent years has become a widely debated and increasingly contested. Like
culture17, ‘youth’ is now considered an analytical category and a discursive social construct
which somewhat connote a social group that is constituted by specific individuals who have been
categorised and commonly identified according to certain physiological and biological
characteristics {namely, that they are post-adolescent human beings} (Bennett, 2007; Smith,
The concept of culture is discussed extensively in the chapter two of this study
In the past years membership of the category ‘youths’ was exclusively decided by age, however
many observers and scholars now believe the criteria for belonging to this group hinges more on
one’s cultural practices and expressions that reflect youthfulness. In fact, some claim young
people’s exclusive claim on the term has largely disappeared as a result of the allegedly
apolitical and apathetic outlook of contemporary youth. Contemporary youths are believed to
lack the perceived tendencies towards subversion and resistance deemed to have characterised
the youths of previous generations (Bennett, 2007: 23). For others then, the exclusive association
of youth with the young has become weakened due to the fact that many of the traits once
connected with youth are now observed across a far broader age range due to changing
sensibilities relating to ageing and the life course in late modern society (Bennett, 2007, Smith,
Similarly noted is the shifting demography of audiences for popular music such as rock, punk,
hip-hop etc. For instance, many of the young popular hip-hop artists of the late 70s and early 80s
are now in their 40s and 50s, this clearly increases the age-range of their audiences and fan base
despite still being in the youth music business. Thus Andy Bennett (2007) concludes that the
genres once defined as youth music, now attract increasingly multi-generational followings,
hence, it is important for researchers within youth study to always reflect the complexities and
dynamism in their study of the ‘youth’.
Although in this study, age is the most critical factor in defining is who part of the category
called ‘youth’. However the arguments over the ages that should be included in the group
remains another very critical issue (Smith, 2011). For example, both the National Youth
Commission Act (as amended) and the South African National Youth Policy point out that the
ages of ‘youth’ are between 14 and 35, while the South African Advertising Research
Foundation (SAAF) defines it as those between the ages of 16 and 24.
For the purpose of this study, Khwe youths between ages 18 and 24 were sampled. This age
range was selected after I realised my target sample size (the Khwe hip-hoppers) fall within these
age brackets (see methodology section).
Rethinking Indigeneity
The present study is premised and part of Keyan Tomaselli led Centre for Communication,
Media and Society (CCMS) research track titled ‘Rethinking Indigeneity’. This project has a
long standing research relationship with the Khwe people (see Tomaselli, 2005, 2006; 2007;
2008; 2012). The following were deduced from previous Rethinking Indigeneity research in
Although the Platfontein Bushmen continue to resist development endeavours
communicated via initiatives that are specifically western, modernity still impacts on
some areas of their lives, e.g. their art and crafts (Barnabas, 2009, Barnabas,
These impacts, considered a superimposed culture (re) define some aspects their
existence (Barnabas, 2009)
The community radio station; the XK Fm established by the South African Broadcasting
Corporation (SABC) in Platfontein to preserve and protect the cultures, languages and
histories of the Khwe people has been a success in terms of utilising indigenous
knowledge and culture to produce radio programming that is sensitive to the development
needs of the !Xun and Khwe communities (Hart, 2011; Mhlanga, 2009/2010)
As a result of Platfontein’s proximity to the city of Kimberley, the Khwe people are more
exposed to modern technologies when compared to youths from other Bushman
Since there are no previous studies focused specifically on the youths. The present study hopes to
spark a discourse on the emerging cultural patterns among the Bushman youth in the late postmodernism. The general aim of this study is to investigate the extent to which new media
technologies and hip-hop (a form of modernity) affects the traditional and indigenous lifestyles
of the Khwe Bushmen.
The following are the questions the study seeks to answer:
What factors contribute to the adoption and appropriation of hip-hop by the Khwe youth
What new media technologies do they have access?
Does hip-hop culture influence youths’ participation in indigenous, cultural or livelihood
What are the perceptions of indigenous culture in relation to the hip-hop culture in Khwe
The study’s objectives are also listed below:
to discuss the distinct style of the Khwe hip-hip subcultures
to examine the enculturation process of hip-hop (a western phenomenon) by the Khwe
youth subculture
to explore the role of new media in the adoption of hip-hop by the Khwe youth subculture
to highlight the effects of hip-hop on the Khwe indigenous culture; and lastly,
to disclose the generational clash(es) that may arise between the youth and the older
generations (if any).
Naming Issues
The debate on whether to refer to the descendants of indigenous hunter-gatherers of Southern
Africa as Bushmen or San has been ongoing for years (See Wilmsen, 1989; Gordon, 1992).
Although both names (Bushman and San) carry connotations of low status (Gordon and Douglas
2000), the term ‘San’ is often used by NGOs, government officials and social planners in both
Namibia and South Africa (Barnard 2007) while the term Bushman is more preferable to the
people themselves (See Barnabas, 2009, Dicks, 2011; Finlay, 2009).
The name ‘Bushman’ originated from the Dutch term ‘Bosjesmen’ which was used to describe
nomadic foragers who lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, while the name ‘San’ was given to them
by the Khoikhoi people who shared the Southern part of Africa with the Bushmen. San was
derived from the Nama word ‘Sanqua or Sa-au’ which means those who forage as opposed to
those who heard livestock (Robbins, 2004). According to Tomaselli (2007: 26) both names
(Bushmen or San) were consequently used by the colonial government to describe a people who
despite the fact that they possessed individual clan names, inhabited distinct areas, spoke
different languages and possessed individual histories, were given unifying names to allow
governments to more effectively administer them.
I have used both terms in this study in similar fashion as Andrew Dicks (2011), to refer to a
culturally diverse group of people who consist of a number of different clans, and, who come
from different regions of the Kalahari (see also, Gordon & Douglas, 2000; Tomaselli, 2005;). In
most cases, I chose to use the name ‘Bushman’ because it reflects the traditional lifestyles of the
San people as a people connected to nature. It also holds a sense of nostalgia in terms of the
Khwe involvement in the Border War as the Bushman Battalion (cf. Robbins, 2004; Dicks,
2011). It is worthy to note that the varieties of terms used today are both specific and general to
communities and individuals. The extract below by a respondent reiterates this:
The name ‘Bushman’ was given to us because of our history and nomadic background
and we have grown used it. Personally, I prefer the name ‘Bushman’ because I have
grown up with. Although some people even within the Khwe community do not like the
name; they prefer to be called the Khwe San. I prefer to be called ‘a Bushman’ because it
relates to my immediate family history as hunters and gatherers” (Moshe Maghudu 18
Interview, June15, 2014)
The traditional Chief of the Khwe community meanwhile attributes the derogative meaning
attached to these names as the main cause of neglect and slow pace of development in the
community. To him, their status as ‘Bushmen’ has made government, development agencies and
other stakeholders to abandon them to self-survival in an inhuman social living conditions19
(Kamama Mkuwa Interview, June 14, 2014).
This dissertation incorporates the real names of informants instead of employing pseudonyms when referencing
interviews or field notes as my research participants requested that their names be used in full, and that there be
no masking of their involvement in the research process. This is discussed further in the methodology chapter
under the heading ethics and anonymity.
The socio-economic conditions of the present-day Khwe Bushmen are discussed extensively in the chapter five
of this study.
The Primitivist Romantic Representation and View of the Bushman
… I decided to do a random google image search on Bushmen in order to see if
images that would appear are anything like the Bushmen I had seen… I typed
“Bushmen, South Africa and Northern Cape,” the only images that appeared were
the primitive ones… then I added the word ‘modern’ before my initial search, but
the results never changed. (Jagadasan, 2013: 45)
The San have been idealised and hoist as an example of a primitive human purity that was fatally
plundered by the greedy demands of modern society (particularly First World). According to
Van der Post (1986), they were the first inhabitants of South Africa, before being driven into the
Kalahari by hostile Blacks and Whites societies (see also Robbins, 2004; Bregin and Kruiper
2004; Barnard, 2007; Jackson & Robins 1999; Mannetti, 2011). This myth is found at its starkest
in cinematic form in Jamie Uys’ popular 1981 film, The Gods Must Be Crazy. And more
recently, the South African advertising industry utilised this myth in a number of campaigns, for
example, the Vodacom advertisement aired during the Rugby World Cup (2007), a South
African Railways advertisement and even the national crest of the South African government
(Guenther 2006: 178).
Although these representations may be accurate, based on historical records that suggest that the
Bushmen were indeed passive victims of European and Bantu invasion, they nevertheless, fail to
account for the social changes that occurred to these groups over the years. It is therefore a great
misconception to assume that the San or Bushmen have been living a traditional lifestyle,
untouched by outside influences since the beginning of the human calendar (cf. Gordon &
Douglas, 2000; Robbins, 2004).
According to Gordon & Douglas (2000: 11), the Bushmen have in the last hundred years
operated in a mobile landscape, forming and shifting their political and economic alliances to
take advantage of circumstances as they perceived them. The failure to take into account these
dynamic changes has resulted in a situation where the Bushmen struggle unrealistically to
recreate these images portrayed of them, especially when visited by tourists and researchers
(Finlay, 2009). For instance the ≠≠Khomani leading family, the Kruipers, admitted that they
have constructed their authenticity in relation to this romantic myth; this enables them to “sell
these myths to the West (and tourists) in terms of discourses of indigeneity (politics),
authenticity (owners of original knowledge), of tourism (marketing) and in terms of povertyalleviation (aid/begging)” (Tomaselli 2007a, Finlay, 2009). This combined with other
environmental and socio-political factors has contributed to the complexities and numerous
obstacles and constraints that characterise development in most Bushman communities (Grant,
Thus, the present study goes beyond the romantic representation of a primitive Bushman to
revealing the sociocultural realities and state of the present-day Bushman group such as the
Khwe whose daily encounter with modern technologies are redefining and leading to radical
changes to an age-long indigenous culture. In the next section of the dissertation, I recount the
origin of Bushman, constricting it to the history of the Khwe people in a bid to identify those
aspects of the Khwe culture that may have been affected by hip-hop through globalisation as
well as the factors that led to their present state.
Figure 1.4: Despite the rapid changes that have occurred over the years, many San are still represented as
The Origin of the San or Bushmen
The history of the Khwe and other Bushman/San groups has been traced to the early human
society around 10,000 years ago which survived by collecting plant foods and hunting (Robbins,
2004: 4). As these early humans took an important evolutionary step by domesticating animals
and plants, their initial hunter-gatherer lifestyle gradually gave way to herding and agriculture.
This settled existence also ushered in the possibility of specialisation, development of villages
and towns into modern cities which led to early civilisations (Robbins, 2004).
However, not everyone was carried along in this developmental trend; this is because it tended to
occur predominantly in places where geography and climate were most favourable. By the 16 th
century, most of the marginal areas had been brought into the mainstream, but the few
communities and groups that retained the hunter-gathering lifestyle were pushed into areas of
climatic extremes and social isolation.
The San (Bushmen) were among those who adhered to their traditional way of life the longest,
and were thus pushed into less and less promising areas such as the desert (Robbins, 2004). This
process intensified by the mid-seventeenth century when Europeans appeared in the Cape and
began a gradual expansion east and north to satisfy their hunger for game and farming (Robbins,
2004). Modern archeology confirmed that these Stone Age peoples were almost certainly the
ancestors of the present day San communities, including the Khwe and the !Xun20 (Robbins,
2004: 4; See Lee, 1979).
The !Xun are often mentioned in the same breath as the Khwe in the course of this study. This is partly due to
the fact that both Bushman groups inhabit the land in Platfontein today and have shared a similar history and
experiences since their joint enlistment into the Army in the 1970s. I have however focused more on the history of
the Khwe.
The Khwe and !Xun
The Khwe and the !Xun are two distinct ethnic groups that experienced similar complex histories
and experiences of relocation, upheaval, displacement and change. They shifted from their
nomadic lifestyles on ancestral homelands in Southern Angola and the Caprivi Strip after their
displacement by war from their land. These circumstances led to their long-term military
involvement with the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the border wars of Angola and
Most of the !Xun of Platfontein originally came from Central and Eastern Angola as well as
Namibia where they are often referred to and called ‘Vasequela’ (Forest Bushmen) (Robbins,
2004: 6). They speak !Xûntali, a linguistic sub-dialectic of the !Kung family of languages. They
also speak a range of other languages such as Portuguese, Afrikaans and some uBuntu languages
of Angola, Botswana and Namibia. Most !Xun, before the 1900s, were hunter- gatherers living
off food from the bush, but soon adopted subsistence farming as a way of life due to contact with
Bantu-speaking and Western populations. Owing to the collapse of subsistence and gathering
economies and the maltreatment experienced from the Bantu-speaking inhabitants of Angola, the
!Xun sided with the Portuguese in the early 1960s in the colonial power‘s fight against the
independence of Angola (Robbins, 2004: 7).
The geographic origins of the Khwe ranged from Botswana, Namibia and Angola. Most,
however, were centered on the Eastern Caprivi Strip21 where they were often referred to as the
‘Baraquena’ (Water Bushmen) (Uys, 1993a; Robbins, 2004). The Khwe are also usually
described by other ethnic groups as the ‘black Bushmen’ because of their taller stature and
darker skin, in comparison to the lighter skin and small stature of other San ethnic groups based
in and around the Kalahari (Robbins, 2004: 06).
The Caprivi strip is a corridor of Namibian land that separates the borders of Angola and Botswana from one
another. This strip of land was extremely valuable (strategically speaking) to the SADF during the war.
Figure 1.5 - Map of Caprivi Strip
Source: Adapted from Dicks, 2011
The Khwe speak Khwedam, a Tshu-Khwe linguistic dialect and like most Bushmen groups in
Southern Africa, they lived a hunter gatherer lifestyle before the appearance of Bantu-speaking
and western populations (Hart, 2011).
By the 1950s, most of the Khwe were living as subsistence farmers. However, by the 1960s the
impact of Angola‘s war of independence and its civil war, was also influencing the way of life of
many Khwe populations in Angola and Eastern Caprivi. With the SADF bases located in the
Eastern Caprivi as launch pads for counter-guerrilla operations in Angola and Namibia and due
to the history of maltreatment experienced at the hands of local Bantu speaking populations, it
was not long before the Khwe became involved with the SADF for reasons of labour, protection
and services (Robbins, 2004:).
At first the Khwe were used as labourers in the construction of the bases Alpha and Omega in
Eastern Caprivi, but later they were fully recruited fully when the SADF needed support for its
counter-liberation operations against the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), a
guerrilla force fighting for the liberation of Namibia. It was about this time that the Khwe were
bundled together with the already experienced !Xun soldiers to make the infamous Bushman
Battalion (Battalion 31).
By the year 1988, after South Africa had been obliged to negotiate a transition to elections, and
the formulation of a new constitution for the full Namibian independence and 21st of March 1990
had been set as the date for the Namibian independence; demobilisation of the South African
Army began. However, there were concerns over what was going to happen to the Bushmen
soldiers after the Namibian independence, particularly after SWAPO won a majority of the seats
in the general election. They had been involved in a war against SWAPO and now SWAPO was
in power. Again, they have found themselves in the same predicament as they had been in had
been in Angola when the Portuguese pulled out (Robbins, 2004; Hart, 2011; Dicks, 2011).
By early 1990, a meeting was set up in Windhoek between the San leaders, a representative of
the South African government and the leader of SWAPO himself - Sam Nujoma (the presidentelect of an independent Namibian, pledges were made by representatives of both governments to
support the San whichever country they chose to live (Namibia or relocate to South Africa).On
June 14, 1990, following the announcement of a radical programme that would lead to the
abolition of the apartheid by the then South African President, F.W. De Klerk, 50% of the San
people resolved to migrate to South Africa while the other 50% opted to remain in Namibia.
On 7th March 1990, a week before the Namibian independence, 3,720 San people (both the
Khwe and the !Xun) were flown from the Omega camps in Namibia to Kimberley, South Africa
in what was tagged ‘Operation Matrass’. They were then transported in army trucks, 80
kilometres away from Kimberley to the tents that had been pitched on an open arid veld at
Shmidtsdrift. Upon their arrival, they were granted the South African citizenship. Robbins
(2004) recounts that many of the Khwe and !Xun opted to migrate to South Africa out of fear of
the possible repetition of the destruction they had experienced in Angola after the Portuguese
pulled out. Their decision to migrate to South Africa might also have been connected to their
degree of loyalty towards the SADF. As a nomadic group, with the support of the army, they
believed they had mastered the land enough to survive another migration. However, the
emotional consequences of their dislocation and resettlement in spite of the military’s efforts to
soften the blow were traumatic, especially those involving language, culture, topography and
climate (Robbins, 2004; Hart, 2011; Dicks, 2011).
Just as plans for proper housing began to materialise for the Khwe and !Xun who lived in tents, a
little the political instability that erupted within South Africa as a result of reluctance of the
National Party and other white groupings to accept certain logic for a unitary South African state
led to the dissolution of Battalion 31. The news came as a thunderbolt to the entire Schmidtsdrift
community on 14 July 1992. This meant the military support and some of the infrastructure
originally provided by the military were withdrawn and simply removed for use elsewhere. The
neglected San soldiers became “homeless and superfluous misfits caught up in the destructive
transition, albeit contained within South Africa’s great march towards democracy and greater
good” (Robbins, 2004: 11)
The disbanding of the 31 Battalion in Shmidtsdrift brought the San community to their lowest
ebb since their momentous journey began. The period immediately after the 1994 election was
one of a collapse of personal and communal vision. The uncertainty had turned to paranoia and
depression. The Bushmen believed the army cared for them, but that the ANC government
considered them a slime that had collaborated with the enemy – the white South African regime
(Katharina Meyer, 1993 cited in Robbins, 2004).
Consequently, incidents of rape, attempted suicide, extreme domestic violence, alcohol and
substance abuse increased dramatically leading to more and more social negativity. There were
extreme poverty, illiteracy, and almost a complete lack of job opportunities (Robbins, 2004:25).
Also, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), malnutrition and numerous other health
problems became rampant at the then understaffed clinic. Soon to be recorded were sharp
increases in teenage pregnancies and severe alcohol abuse during pregnancy. Traditional huntergathering methods and practices were seen as irrelevant and were dropped with contempt as the
people became almost totally negative and violent. Many incidents of aggression between the
Khwe and the !Xun and also between the young and older people were recorded. On top of this,
inevitably, came HIV/AIDS just as alcoholism and drug abuse became a societal norm (Robbins,
2004: 25). These tendencies of self-destruction no doubt grew out of a loss of cultural practice of
hunting and gathering which has been lost the years of war and multiple migrations (Robbins,
2004). Rupert Isaacson (2001) explained the Bushmen difficulty in surviving when a part of
them live in town and another part still in the bush.
The woes of this group compounded when a Tswana group, the Bathlapin communities who had
initially lodged a claim as the original owners of the land on which the San tent homes were built
in Schmidtsdrift was awarded the land by the Land Claims Commission. Hence, plans again
began for the demobilisation and resettlement.
A !Xun and Khwe Trust was established in November 1993, with the task of the trustees to find
an acceptable place for the settlement of the tent-dwelling San people. With the help of the first
post-1994 Minister of Land Affairs, the land in Platfontein was purchased in 1997, with the
official handing over of the title deeds taking place two years later. By the December 2003 till
January 2004, hundreds of San families moved to a township built for them by the South African
government on the Platfontein farmland, some fifteen kilometres outside Kimberley in Northern
Cape, South Africa (see the figure below for the map of a greater Kimberley area.
Figure 1.6 - Map of South Africa
Source: A. Dicks 2011
Figure 1.7 - Map of Platfontein.
Source: A. Dicks, 2011
Platfontein: the promise of a new beginning
The houses of Platfontein are stretched away on the hostile veld of the Northern Cape:
Concrete blocks, flat roofs, timbers reeking of creosote, metal doors and small metal
windows painted in bright colours… They came from tents in Schmidtsdrift, where they
had lived for 13 years, to Platfontein in the fringes of the city of Kimberley to become
house owners. (Robbins, 2004: 2)
Platfontein is the home of the Khwe and !Xun today where they live interdependently with each
other. Despite strong wishes and attempts by both groups to go their separate ways during the
resettlement negotiation in Shmidtsdrift; they were nevertheless resettled together in one
township against their wishes. Hence today, the land and services22 in Platfontein are shared
equally between two groups whose forced togetherness has contributed to the slow pace in
Such as hospitals, schools and radio station.
development. Den Hertog (2013: 1) opines that “both groups lack a coherent and communal
spirit to pursue the goal of ‘cooperative production’ for their township”.
With a new settlement of their own, it is envisaged that ventures such as tourism will help to
sustain the Bushman culture as well as improve the standard of living. According to Robbins
(2004), everything from the housing to the school and clinic at Platfontein, to the number of
small trading stores in Platfontein, was superior to that of Schmidtsdrift. Furthermore, the fact
that the city of Kimberley was just 8 kms away, Platfontein thought to be closer to more job
opportunities when compared to other Bushmen groups in the Kalahari. The proximity was also
expected to help the Bushmen to engage in urban South African society, something that never
existed at Schmidtsdrift (Soskolne, 2007: 23).
However, this has not been the case; instead, life in Platfontein has been extremely complex in
terms of the people’s social, economic and cultural way of living. Platfontein in its isolation from
Kimberley seems so distant from the modern world that the promised benefits of living near an
urban centre mostly failed to materialise due to the lack of transport between Platfontein and
Kimberley (Soskolne, 2007: 23; Hart, 2011).
There is a sense of abandonment by the government and the Kimberley municipality. There are
many structural skeletons of urbanisation and modernisation scattered throughout Platfontein.
The deteriorating state of the township‘s main tarred road has become symbolic of the failures
that Platfontein has experienced. The disadvantages of urbanisation have filtered into Platfontein
where alcoholism, violence, unemployment, illnesses and poverty are experienced daily. So, in
having moved to Platfontein from Schmidtsdrift where they were refugees faced with devastating
poverty, violence and abandonment, the !Xun and Khwe are now facing different problems and
concerns of development related to urbanization and modernisation (Hart, 2011).
The government has provided land and housing, however, due to the township‘s structural
limitation and lack of transport to Kimberley, it has been unable to ensure access to work and
other opportunities that would move the !Xun and Khwe out of poverty. As a result, extremely
high unemployment within the two communities at Platfontein exists, with many of the !Xun and
Khwe dependent on income from small pensions, social and childcare grants. Women commonly
forage through the municipality rubbish dump on the doorstep of Platfontein for food and
domestic items. Subsequently, these conditions and issues of life within Platfontein have made
XK fm an essential aspect of the two communities fight against their poverty and isolation (Hart,
An Outsider’s view of Platfontein
When I visited Platfontein for the first time in 2013, like other Bushman communities visited, I
found the township to be very ‘rural’ in the truest sense of the word 23. Naturally,
environmentally and socially, the community lacks features of a modern community. Dust hung
over the township as though it was a construction site; this is as a result of the harsh and infertile
surface of the ground covered in red sand as well as the relatively untarred roads. This is
similarly echoed by Thomas Hart (2011:1)
…there are no structural displays such as road signs to identify the presence of the
township as Galeshewa. It was as if Platfontein never existed. A kilometre-and-half down
the road to Platfontein, I pass by three women walking towards Platfontein carrying
bundles of sticks on their heads… My car rattles onto the harsh surface of the gravel road
as I approach the first glimpses of RDP24 houses. Rigidly positioned in the barren
landscape of red sand, these houses are grouped into two separate communities…
Members of these two communities scatter the streets walking to unknown destinations
within their restricted landscape”
Each property has a small garden and a fixed exterior (outside) toilet enclosed in a small
corrugated iron room. A number of households have small tents pitched outside in the garden
which serves as their kitchen because the Khwe keep their kitchen separate from their living.
Many try growing their own vegetables in small gardens, but the quality of the land is generally
somewhat arid. Apart from South African San Institute’s (SASI) office which has been closed
down and converted for other uses, I find Andrew Dicks’ detailed field note on Platfontein from
2010, very descriptive of the township in 2014:
My use of the word ‘rural’ is in cmparison to modern societies, using the indicators these societies.
RDP stands for Reconstruction and Development Programme. It is a South African socio-economy framework
initiated by the first post-apartheid government to address the massive shortfalls in social services during the
Apartheid regimes.
Each household has access to running water and electricity. Also, there is a community
clinic, a public school, a small public library and a department of home affairs (named
the One-stop). There are a few private enterprises present in the community including the
South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) radio station, X-K fm, the local
convenient store and shebeen (Fame General Dealer), and a few informal shops operating
from certain homes. There are also non-profit organisations that have established a
footing in the community namely SASI, Isibindi and Red Cross, which deal with
community issues. There is a small presence of police officers present in the community
who operate from the One-stop centre. (Dicks, 2011 field notes in May 2010).
After more than ten days and nights living and socialising with the Khwe in June 2014, I began
to realise Platfontein has not exactly turned out the way the Khwe people had envisaged. Most of
the inhabitants on the Khwe side complain about the dilapidating two-roomed RDP houses
which could no longer accommodate their now increased population, the taps that are virtually
broken, the pit lavatories that are full and neglected by the Municipality who ought to excavate
them, the limited access to internet and other technologies, the 99% unemployment rate, the
generational clashes between the young and old, the alcohol and drug abuse problem, the
increasing violence and female battery and the infertile farmlands for limited crops. I saw and
witnessed all of these first hands.
Worst of it all is the rapid cultural upheaval of the Khwe people. Many of the Khwe traditions
such folklore and storytelling, tracking, traditional music and healing dances etc. (see Robbins,
2004: 21) are being lost and giving way to the modern practices and ways of living preferred by
the younger generation. In fact, there are fears within the adult circle that Khwedam - the Khwe
indigenous language which is the last visible cultural heritage and identity of the Khwe people
might be on the verge of extinction due to daily infiltration of Afrikaans and English into the
language system by the younger people (Moshe Mahundu Interview, June 14, 2014). The present
study is thus faced with the task of capturing these complex and radical socio-cultural changes
and interrelationships.
It is important to note that many of the so-called rural townships today were forcefully
constructed by the colonial powers. Colonial administrations required the bureaucratic
rationalization of city space. This entailed that as urbanization of the colonized accelerated, so
the more urgently were those thus racialized forced to occupy a space apart from their
European(ized) masters (Goldberg, 1993:187).
Even though colonialism and apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994 with the emergence of
popular democratic government, the country’s wealth distribution system which remains skewed
in favour of the wealthy minority (Murray, 2002). As a resut the majority whom are blacks
continue to experiencepoverty, homelessness and unemployment and remain settled in the
townships created by the apartheid’s regimes (Barbarin, 2003).
Hence, like the Khwe communities, many of the problems highlighted such as volence, alchol
abuse etc. continue to thrive in many of these communities. It is thus important to note that
excessive alchol and buse and other maladies are not peculiar to the Bushmen communities
alone, but infact a common feature of most rural townships in the country (see Peterson et al,
Figure 1.8 – A desolate Platfontein in the daytime.
Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©
Dilapidating Facilities and Perceived Government Neglect
The majority of the Khwe people of Platfontein believe they are being neglected by the
government, particularly in the provision of some basic social amenities. According to an
informant, “the government knows we are poor and that is why Mandela is giving us social
grants; however, we want the Municipality to help us, particularly in constructing more buildings
to accommodate people, our broken taps as well as our toilet which is very bad” (Kamama
Mkuwa Interview, June 14, 2014).
Aside unemployment, housing is another major issue that needs urgent attention in Platfontein.
The population of Platfontein has increased tremendously in the last few years due to early
marriages and so many child pregnancies (see city press on June 5, 2005)25. The implication of
this is that, the small two-room accommodation and RDP homes provided can no longer contain
the over-population recorded. A few families, who could afford, managed to build extensions to
their homes. Dicks (2011) describes the housing in Platfontein thus “in some cases there are
three or four generations of a single family living in (and sharing) the same small house”.
Although each household has access to water and electricity, which are provided through power
lines and water pipes leading from Kimberley (Dicks, 2011), many of the taps in the Khwe
homes are broken and had been unfixed for a long time, while in some homes electricity wires
are poorly managed and exposed. Also, the toilets in Platfontein do not have a flush system, but
rather a bucket system which requires that the bucket be removed from below the toilet, and
emptied of its contents once it has reached a relatively full capacity. The local municipality is
charged with the responsibility of disposing the wastes from the toilet, however, due to lack of
responsiveness from the municipality; the Khwe people dig holes in the backyard and bury
buckets of their feaces when they are full. All these adversely affect the health of the Khwe
people (Dicks, 2014). The disposal of waste (both physical and human) has been an issue in
Platfontein for a long time (see Dick, 2011; Hart, 2011). The Khwe encounter with modern
technology is developed in the next section.
The city press newspaper an an article on this day about life in Platfontein titled ‘Babies galore, poverty
notwithstanding’ (1.1.87/argief/berigte/citypress/2005/06/05/C1/22/02.html)
Figure 1.9 - Broken taps and lack of drainage is the cause of many bad and abandoned roads in the community
Source: Itunu Bodunrin 2014 ©
Figure 1.10 - Kids playing in by the roadside refuse dumpsite in the township
Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©.
The Khwe Encounter with Modern Technology
There is evidence that the Khwe people were somewhat in a premodern state before venturing
into the military in the mid-1970s (Robbins, 2004). This was mostly visible in the clothing worn
on arrival to the military camp base in Caprivi, Namibia as described by David Robbins (2004:
the men wore loin cloths and carried bows and arrows and little bush axes tied with a
thong around their waist. The women wore short skirts, front and rear, of hides and many
beads. Every woman was either pregnant or had a baby on her hip and one in her hand.
The young girls also wore skirts, but surprising; they were not topless as the women. The
younger boys wore clothing.”
Desmond Clark similarly explained that before the war, the Khwe
They make all their own skins for clothes. The men wear two skins back and front
suspended from a belt around their waist while the women also wear two skins, but the
back of the skin is decorated with tassels, folds to join the front skin…besides strings of
ostrich eggshell beads, the women wear bracelets, which may be worn on the wrist or just
below the knee, while children sometimes wear them round their waists.” (Quoted in
Robbins, 2004: 10)
No doubt, the Khwe soldiers were first exposed to modern and sophisticated technologies during
their time in the military26. Before the war, the Khwe lived a nomadic lifestyle in extreme and
remote areas with limited potential of modern communication and media technologies (Robbins,
2004). A member of the disbanded Bushman Battalion, Wineel Leajara who participated in this
study reiterates this when he said:
Before the war, all forms of communication were oral. Messengers trekked long
distances to neighboring villages to convey and receive information orally. We
became exposed to [the] Gramophone and radio and television while in the
military. We were not allowed to use any of these things but we were used to
seeing them around the camp base (Interview, June, 2014).
They were exposed to the use of guns, radio and other modern war paraphernalia
Impact of Modernisation/Technology on Khwe Culture
Heme Swart, a school teacher and educational psychologist who worked at Schmidtsdrift in
1991, recounts that “nightlife in Shmidtsdrift was characterised by traditional storytelling
sessions, healing, dances and cultural practices that are fairly harmonious (Interview by Robbins,
2004). However, in my 17 days and nights among the Khwe in Platfontein, there were no such
thing. Perhaps, there are no reasons to gather around fire at night for storytelling sessions when
there are huge lamps of street lights around the community at night or when the community radio
and televisions are now available in homes. The entrant of modern media technology such as
radio and television has paved way for modern acculturation processes.
According to Wineel Leajara, an ex-sodier who worked in the SADF, the Khwe soldiers began to
buy television and radio sets in their homes around 1996, after they had seen its informative
importance (Interview, Platfontein June, 2014). Subsequently, by 2008, about four years after
the Khwe people again migrated to their permanent homes in Platfontein, Digital Satellite
television also found its way into some homes. This coincides with the emergence of a
Platfontein’s first hip-hop group named the DRAP JJ Star – an acronym of the names of six
youngsters who came together in 2009 to form what was to become the most popular and
celebrated hip-hop group in the township.
History of Hip-Hop in Khwe
Although there are no previous written records of hip-hop culture among the Khwe people prior
to this study, Hart (2011: 11) highlighted in his dissertation that he heard the blaring sounds of
South African hip-hop and house music from household radios in 2011. This suggests that the
community radio station (XK Fm) as well as the Southern African hip-hop culture, may have
influenced hip-hop in Khwe community. Many of the hip-hoppers in Khwe admit however that
they encountered the hardcore hip-hop via the Digital Satellite Television music dedicated
channel (MTV). The culture of hip-hop began among the Khwe youth out of need to have a
voice and a medium to vent their frustration on a system which they believe marginalises them.
Synopsis of Dissertation
The dissertation is divided into six chapters. The first chapter, which is the current chapter, is the
introductory chapter, which laid the background of the research community. Key concepts, aim,
objectives, research questions are defined and stated in this chapter.
Chapter Two is the literature review section. The main themes of the chapter are culture and
globalisation. Hence argument on the impact of new media and globalisation in ndigenous
culture is often brought to the fore. Key studies in the field of youth musical culture and style are
reviewed; particularly those relating to hip-hop culture.
The third chapter is the theoretical frameworks of the study. The chapter discusses the Centre for
Contemporary Cultural Studies inspired subculture theory, which has informed many youth
studies on musical style since the post-war British era in the1950s. Although the theory has been
applied in many national and local contexts, it has never been applied in the study of the
indigenous people. Hence the chapter not only presents the theory as a whole, it also presents the
numerous criticism of the theory. The subculture theory is supported by the appropriation theory
which an unequivocal act of subcultures.
Chapter Four discusses the methods used in gathering data for the study. These methods are also
discussed in relation to the methodology adopted by earlier researchers in similar fields
(anthropology and cultural studies). For instance the ethnographic tradition which has informed
similar studies of this nature was been critiqued for its inadequacy. Hence, many criticisms of the
method used in this study are discussed so that the researcher might be mindful of previous
Chapter Five is the analysis chapter of the study. The thematic analysis was used to present many
of the relevant data collected in the field.
The last chapter is the conclusion. It summarises the entire study by re-presenting the study’s
aims, objectives and research questions, while also discussing the significance of the study in the
present historic time in the lives of the Khwe Bushmen.
A Note on Pronunciation
Some names in the dissertation, which comes with a sign before it, has its own unique
pronunciation. This names include !Xai, Xun, ≠≠Khomani, etc.
The ‘!’ is a cerebral click.
“An alveopalatal or palatal stop, produced by pulling the tip of the tongue sharply away from the
front hard palate. When made with the lips rounded, it sounds rather like a cork popping from a
wine bottle”.
While the ‘≠’ is an alveolar click.
“An alveolar stop, produced by pulling the blade of the tongue sharply away from the alveolar
ridge, immediately behind the teeth” (Dickens, 1992: xix-xxii).
In this chapter, globalisation as well as the sociopolitical forces of the post-apartheid South
Africa was identified as the major contributing factors to the changing sociocultural landscape of
the once primitive Khwe Bushmen of Platfontein, South Africa. Thus, culture and globalisation
are the main themes upon which arguments in this chapter are woven. The chapter reviews,
scholarly literatures on culture, globalisation, new media technologies and hip-hop music culture.
The last part of the chapter revisits the arguments on the roles, effects and consequences of
globalisation and new media technologies in local communities and existing cultures.
The chapter begins with the unpacking of the complex concept called ‘culture’. This is in
tandem with Peter Kulchyski’s (1997) idea that studies which reassess cultural production must
begin with the critical evaluation the concept of culture. Due to the enormous literatures on
culture, the definitions and meanings (of culture) were limited to the subject and the objective of
the study. The subject of the study is the Khwe youth subculture and the larger Khwe people
while the overarching objective of the study is to explain the changing cultural pattern and style
of the Khwe youths who have wholly embraced modern cultures and styles since their migration
to South Africa in the early 1990s. Culture is reviewed chronologically, right from the era it
gained prominence as the main term for social difference, right through its seeming fall in the
present era due to globalisation’s erosion of local cultural boundaries.
Definitions and Meanings of Culture
Culture does not have some true and sacred and eternal meaning we are trying to
discover; but that like other symbol, it means whatever we use it to mean; and that
as other analytical concepts, human users must carve-out – and try to partly agree
on – a class of natural phenomena it can most strategically label (Kessing, 1974:
The multi-disciplinary approach to the study of ‘culture’ has led to the diverse meanings attached
to the term (MacWhite, 1954; Kulchyski, 1997). Initially, the term ‘culture’ began as a concept
equated with the civilisation of upper-class males in the Western countries (Williams, 1950), not
until the development of the academic discipline of anthropology in the 18th century did this
meaning became broadly transformed to encompass everyone irrespective of status (Kulchyski,
1997; Richard, 2002; Spencer-Oatey, 2012).
Culture thus gained enormous prominence that it threatened to displace other terms of social
differences such as, race; custom etc., and this prompted the need for a precise definition to
enable scholars to deploy it more as an intellectual tool (Williams, 1950: xvi). Authors and
scholars have since continued to suggest different definitions which, though constructive, critical
and descriptive, historical, normative, psychological, structural and genetic, are still short of
adequately defining the enormous concept of culture (MacWhite, 1954). This includes the
definitions of culture as; ‘all that is not nature’, as a general way of life, as the highest form of
aesthetic expression of a people, the primary marker of human difference, the basis for a shared
humanity, a realm of human activity predicated on economic life and a basic human drive
fundamental to social existence (Williams, 1950; Kulchyski, 1997; Chopra, 2011). These
definitions and meanings of culture are contained within the two categories briefly explained
below (cf. Velky Richard, 2002; Kessing 1974);
1. Culture as Adaptive System: These are definitions of culture premised on the
evolutionary perspective. Adaptionists view culture as a socially transmitted behavior
patterns that serve to relate human communities to their ecological setting. The
communities’ way of life includes settlement patterns, modes of social grouping and
organisation, religious belief and practices, etc. (See Kessing 1974: 74)
2. Culture as Ideational System: Under this system the views and meaning of culture is
then subdivided into three. The first is the is cognitive systems in which knowledge is
viewed as systems of knowledge (see Goodenough, 1957; 1971; Agar, 1971; Kessing,
1972; Spradley, 1970; 1972), the second as a structural system in which cultural domain,
such as myth, kinship, language are believed to be generated by the principles of the
mind (see, Levi-Strauss, 1966; Kessing, 1972; Boon, 1972a) and the third, as symbolic
systems view culture as systems of shared meanings (Clifford Geertz, cited by Kessing,
1972; Boon, 1972b)
The views that emanated from these theorists, particularly those of Clifford Geertz and LeviStrauss provided ethnographic researchers with the richness of real people in real Life e.g. in a
cockfight, a funeral, a sheep theft etc. (Kessing, 1974). For instance, Claude Levi-Strauss’
(1966basic definition of culture as “‘almost’ everything that people do, say, mean, or are”, has
helped to understand the concept of culture in the simplest possible way (Kulchyski, 1997). The
"almost" in this definition refers to the residual elements of ‘nature’ which cannot be ignored.
For example, the way we grow our fingernails or hair or the way we eat, defecate and die may all
be ‘natural’, nevertheless, they are culturally contained or managed by specific groups differently
(Kulchyski, 1997). Thus, the differences in the way people treat their hair, fingernails, eat,
defecation and death constitute or produces cultural meanings across boundaries enabling us to
differentiate one culture from the other.
Drawing on two opposing views of culture; the first by Edward Taylor (1970), who stressed the
universal character of a single culture in which different societies are arrayed from savage to
civilised, and the second adapted from the works of Franz Boas (1887), who believes the
uniqueness of individual culture varies.
Culture may be seen as both a universal human nature, as well as a unique individual personality.
While the first predictably reflects the twenty-first century global nature of cultural landscapes,
in which globalisation tends to bring ‘marginalised cultures’ into the mainstream, the second (by
Franz Boas) underscores the importance or uniqueness of individual cultures in spite of
globalisation difficulty in preserving it. This idea of the uniqueness of individuals and cultural
groups is reiterated and illustrated in the diagram below:
Figure 2.1 - Three levels of uniqueness in human mental programming
Source: G. Hofstede 1994
Hofstede (1991) points out that as human beings, we all belong to a number of different groups,
categories and possess several layers of mental programming within ourselves which
corresponds to the different levels of culture. These levels, for instance, could be on:
At national level according to one’s country (or countries for people who migrated during
their lifetime);
A regional and/or ethnic and/or religious and/or linguistic affiliation, as most nations are
composed of culturally different regions and/or ethnic and/or religious and/or language
A gender, level, according to whether a person was born as a girl or as a boy;
A generation level, which separates grandparents from parents and children; a role
category, e.g. parent, son/daughter, teacher, student;
A social class level, associated with educational opportunities and with a person’s
occupation or profession; for those who are employed,
Or on an organisational or corporate level according to the way employees have been
socialized by their work organisation (Hofstede 1991: 10)
Of particular importance to this study is the generational level of culture. Hofstede (1994)
grouping and classification are expedient in understanding the reasons behind the formation of
hip-hop subculture as well as the generational differences that separate the older people from the
younger in Khwe. The older people in Khwe for instance, seem to be indigenous-minded when
compared to the younger generations embracing post-modern city cultures and styles.
Hence, stemming down to the present study and defining culture in terms of youth subculture27
distinct styles (which characterised the post-war British era), Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson
(1976: 10) definitions of culture below seems relevant:
Culture is that level at which social groups develop a distinct pattern of life, and gives
expressive form to their social and material life-experience.
It is the ways and the forms in which groups handle the raw material of their social and
material existence.
Culture is the practice which realises or objectivates group-life in meaningful shape and
Based on Karl Marx’s (1970: 42) quote that “as individuals express their life, so they are.
What they are therefore, coincides with their production, both with what the produce and
with how they produce them”, the culture of a group or class is the peculiar and
distinctive ‘way of life’ of the group or class, the meanings, values and ideas embodied in
institutions, social relations, in systems of beliefs, in mores and customs, in the uses of
objects and material life. Hence, culture is the distinctive shapes in which this material
and social organisation of life expresses itself.
A culture includes the ‘maps of reading’ which makes things intelligible to its members.
These ‘maps of reading’ are not simply carried around in the head, rather, they are
objectivated in the patterns of social organisation and relationship through which the
individual becomes a social individual
And finally culture is seen as the way the social relations of a group are structured and
shaped. It is also the way those shapes are experienced, understood and interpreted
The concept of subculture is discussed extensively further in this chapter
These definitions and views of culture seem to uniformly agree with the fact that culture entails
some kind of distinct social relations and meaning shared by a certain group of people. Stuart et
al (1976) goes further to reveal that as individuals and social beings, born into a particular
institution, we are also born into a peculiar ‘configuration of meanings’ and are naturally
governed by the law of the society and culture. Nevertheless, individuals in their lifetime may
develop social relationships and meaning which shapes their ongoing existence as collectively as
groups. These groups, which emanates from the existing cultural patterns, form a sort of
historical reservoir and a pre-constituted ‘field of possibilities’ upon which groups take up,
transform and develop (Stuart et al., 1976: 11).
At this point it is important to briefly explain the three types of cultures within cultural studies.
These are explained based on cultural texts and production among indigenous minority groups
(such as the Bushmen and aboriginals) who previously had a distinct way of life before
globalisation seeming collapse of it (see Kulchyski, 1997; Mikhail, 1981).
High or Elite Culture
High or elite cultures generally refer to cultural products and artifacts of in the arts and sciences.
This includes novels, poems, paintings, philosophical treatises, scientific discoveries, and so
forth (Kulchyski, 1997). High cultures are exclusive of the elite class in the society (LaCapra,
1984; 1985); rooted in the 17th century definition of culture (Spencer-Oatey, 2012). The notion
of high culture is most embodied in Matthew Arnold’s (1867) definition of culture as the ‘special
intellectual or artistic endeavors or products’. The history of high culture can be traced to
medieval Europe, where it was used to describe the culture of the dominant ruling class in the
society such as the state, the aristocrats or the bourgeoisie (Barber, 1997).
This type of culture has however has come under intense criticism for several postmodern writers
who argue that individuals outside of elite circles could produce texts28 which may be classified
high and elite culture. Hence, texts such as this, needs to be differentiated from those produced
by elites which reflect the values of the social elite classes in which they belong (Kulchyski,
In cultural studies, cultural texts include written language, films, photograph, fashion, hairstyle and all the
meaningful artifacts of culture.
1997). Based on Peter Kulchyski’s analysis, a piece of artwork such as the ones produced by the
Bushmen who are apparently outside the elite class but which appeals mostly the elites in the
society may be regarded as high culture. The Bushman artwork and sculptures appeals mostly to
the elites who visit urban museums and international trade-fairs across the globe (cf., Barnabas,
2009). The point of contestation here is that it is the text itself, not the social source of its
production that should determine whether something merits a high culture. The distinction
between the high cultures and other culture has shrinked since elites also appropriate other kinds
of cultures (see Bourdieu, 1998).
Popular Culture
Initially, popular culture refers to the culture of ‘ordinary’ groups of people particularly peasants
and workers. Popular culture may be a popular religion, witchcraft, and folklore.
The ‘popular’ in popular culture renders this category of culture very complex. ‘popular’
according to LaCapra (1985: 76) is an equivocal and ideologically invested term that hovers
between a critical fiction or a myth. The term ‘popular’ emerged in Europe as a derogatory term
which connotes low and common culture (compared with the high culture of the ruling class).
However, in recent years, terms such as ‘popular sovereignty’ and ‘popular democracy’ have
become highly valued. Hence, the meamimg of ‘popular’ has become redefined to become an
attractive term (Barber, 1997: 3). It is important to note that the term ‘popular’ varies across the
globe. For instance, what is generally regarded as ‘popular’ in the Western world might not
necessarily be popular in the African context.29
Hip-hop is a common example of a popular culture which cuts through national boundaries. It is
a global popular culture whose essence is shared worldwide among marginalised groups. Popular
culture, such as hip-hop, which has a huge global audience and in which commodification has
led to its success in different contexts may also be categorised under the third type of culture; the
mass and commodity culture (Kulchyski, 1997).
The concept of ‘popular’ and popular culture is further discussed in this study.
Mass or Commodity Culture
Mass or commodity culture refers to the conversion of culture into a commodity that is produced
and distributed in accordance with the principles of other economic sectors (LaCapra, 1985: 78).
The term commodity culture is preferable because it calls attention to the defining feature of this
area: that cultural text is produced by bearers in exchange for value (Kulchyski, 1997). An
example of a mass or the commodity form of culture is most visible in the commodification of
the image of indigenous peoples {such as the Bushmen and the Aboriginals} (Kulchyski, 1997).
The images and myth of the Bushman in Southern Africa for instance, have been commodified
and exploited by individuals outside the San communities. According to Tomaselli (2003: 857858)
Their mythical images, sounds and values as ‘first people’ are exploited and appropriated
by elites, big companies and advertisers to promote or sell something (in South Africa
e.g. cars, [Mazda], telephone services [Telkom], toothpaste [Colgate], Railways
[Spoornet], an internet book store [], Game parks [Kagga Kamma], etc. ).
Ironically, the owners of the cultural image remain isolated from the texts they are
promoting (Tomaselli, 2003: 857-858).
Similarly, Aboriginal30 cultural and of social products which are not necessarily produced by
Aboriginal people is another example of commodified culture (Kulchyski, 1997). Thus, the
sphere of cultural tourism among indigenous people can be understood within this logic. Just as
in the case of the Bushmen and aboriginals, hip-hop is is also another example of a cultural
expression that became greatly absorbed by the commodity form due to its potential to be
genuinely popular. Commodity culture can be produced by the social elites as well as by
marginal social groups (Kulchyski, 1997).
The Khwe situation based on above classification may be viewed in terms of an emerging
cultural reverse process. A process whereby the Bushman whose popular culture and myth
continues to thrive and appropriated in the western world as a high culture (as a reference point
to the earliest man’s natural state), but who have conversely begun to consume and appropriate
hip-hop which may be categorised as a high, commodity and westernized culture via new media
Aboriginals are the indigenous peoples in North America who are settled mostly in Australia and Canada
technologies. It is thus expedient at this point to distinguish what is truly ‘popular’ within the
African context.
Understanding the ‘Popular’
As Bourdieu (2007) puts it, the concept of ‘popular’ remains ambiguous and complex because it
is historically entrenched in a history of political and cultural struggle. This pejorative thrust has
been renewed in the recent times by the conflation of idea in relating popular to the idea of mass
culture. This view, which is supported by many cultural critics, including the influential
Frankfurt School has a mechanically produced gap controlled by a manipulative state to
brainwash its passive citizens (Bourdieu, 2007). Whether positive or negative, the term ‘popular’
remains an empirical sociological basis that refer in some way to an existing social category ‘the
people’ – and the people when compared to high culture are low in most part of Europe
Johannes Fabian (1997: 18) suggests four ways in which popular culture has been used;
1. To suggest contemporary cultural expressions carried by the masses in contrast to both
modern elitist and traditional tribal culture.
2. To evoke historical conditions characterised by mass communication, mass production
and mass participation
3. To imply a challenge to accept beliefs in the superiority of the high culture and the
notion of folklore, a categorisation equally elitist tied to certain conditions in the
Western society.
4. It signifies, potentially at least, processes occurring behind the back of established
powers and accepted interpretations.
Originally, to be ‘popular’ was to be low-class and to be low-class seems unpleasant. However,
since ‘popular’ things are produced by an absolute majority of the people it became generally
valued (e.g. popular sovereignty, popular culture), hence the concept has been redefined to
reflect its new value. Popular culture in many discourses occupies a self-evidently positive
position, the task, then becomes one of distinguishing between what is ‘truly’ popular and what
is contaminated by hegemonic ideological infiltrations from above (Bourdieu, 2007). It is seen
by many scholars as that which truly serves the interest of the people and which emanates from
the people (see Etherton, 1982: 361).
When the term ‘popular culture’ is transferred to Africa, it brings with it a history of conflicts,
assumptions and problems. For instance, in Africa, the high culture does not exist, and if it does
exist at all, it is not a prerogative of the ruling class, but of a fragmented precarious conflictual
class of elite defined by their proximity to an outside western power (Barber, 1997). Also, in
Africa, phrases such as ‘masses’, and ‘grass roots’ are generally used instead of ‘popular’
(Fabian, 1997). Hence, the so called ‘popular’ has been portrayed in residual categories as vague,
shapeless and as an undefined space demarcated by only what it is not. This is because most
original African cultures are presented wholly in an oral form, and expressed exclusively in
indigenous languages. This explains why images coming from Africa are generally considered a
pre-colonial-past, particularly when studied in relation to the well documented Western culture
(Barber, 1997).
It is assumed by some scholars that the majority of the Western cultures emerged or grew out of
the Africans’ in a probable evolutionary progression (Barber, 1997). This perhaps sheds light as
to why the African world is seen by many scholars and wider public as being constituted almost
entirely out of ‘traditional’ and ‘elite’ spheres of cultural production. “The ‘traditional’ are the
carvings while the ‘modern’ are the ‘Westernised’ English-language African novels and plays.
All other forms of cultural production were never acknowledged. The ‘traditional’ art and myths
were appropriated by the Western Art market into its established categories of value (Appiah,
1992; Clifford, 1988; Fabian and Szombati-Fabian, 1980; Maquet, 1971; Steiner, 1994). The
Khwe traditional Bushman primitive myth and culture is one of the numerous African cultural
myths (or folktales) appropriated as a high culture within the Western cultural sphere.
In response to this evolving idea of culture which are mostly entrenched within colonial
scholarships, Jane Battersby (2003) reveals that, a growing number of post-colonial African
scholarship are arising which continues to express views counter to those of the colonialists and
western scholars. Popular music culture in Africa is a continuation of this process. For instance,
Battersby (2003) believes hip-hop is a form of post-colonial text which offers opportunities for
new identities in Africa.
Popular Music Culture
The terms ‘popular’ and ‘music’ both carry the burden of a troubled history with each of them
being made the subject of intense cultural conflict over time, space and place. Echoes of these
conflicts continue to resonate in many debates, particularly when questions are raised about who
has the power to define ‘what counts’ as popular music today (Alan, 2001). This made Stuart
Allan to conclude that “‘popular music’ is one of those phrases that somehow manages to be
both precise and elusive in meaning at the same time. Everyone knows just what they mean
when they say it, yet seldom find themselves in complete agreement with anyone else’s preferred
definition” (2001: x).
In spite of the complications stated above, majority of scholars agree that popular music is
musical compositions that are written or performed so as to produce commercial services and
products that can be sold for profits. However, the consumers of this genre are believed to
constitute a wide group of ordinary people in the mass society (Defleur and Dennis, 1994). In
other words, popular music is the music for ordinary people and the mass of the society.
Popular music are known to have strong appeal among the young people and is associated with
activities not entirely approved by the older generation (Defleur et al., 1994). Due to its
‘autonomous and mobile’31 form of listening, facilitated through the invention of personal stereo;
for a great number of people, popular music has become an omnipresent aspect of day-to-day
existence (Hosokawa, 1984: 166). This type of music functions at a collective level. For instance,
every week in cities around the world, people gather to listen and dance to their favourite
opupular music. They are also consumed massively during summer festivals when it is mixed
with relaxation and socialising as people forge new friendships and associations based around
common taste in music (Bennett, 2001).
Popular music has also been linked with political issues and social change. For example, in the
year 1969, 500,000 people gathered at a rural site near the town of Woodstuck in New York for
the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, an event which, among other things, protested about the
US’s continuing involvement in the Vietnam War (Bennett, 2001). In recent times, many popular
music mega events and concert have been broadcast globally with the aim of raising awareness
Japanese music theorist Hosokawa (1984) popularized this term.
and Aids for regions and places hit by crisis and disasters32 (see Garofalo 1992a; 1992b).
However the political naiveté of these events have been justifiably criticised for bringing
attention to a world problem by utilising a key element of their leisure and lifestyle (see
Garofalo, 1992b). The disciplines of cultural and media studies and sociology have since the end
of the Second World War popular made music a subject of study at different levels.
Contemporary popular music which includes punk, reggae, rap and hip-hop, bhangra and many
dance music (especially house and techno) within club cultures is the primary, leisure resource in
many modern societies. Although many of these music cultures originated in the United States
and Britain, they have been appropriated, reworked and stylistically localized in different cultural
context around the globe (Alan, 2001).
In Africa for instance, the popular music culture of hip-hop is deployed as a post-colonial text.
That is, a tool for developing a powerful and common language of resistance against the legacies
of colonialism that continues to hunt the globe (Battersby, 2003). Popular music culture in the
region is viewed as a youth ‘counterculture’ used for expression of views counter to those of the
powerful society and this apparent challenge to power remains very problematic (Battersby,
2003). Music cultures such as classic and pop music culture which are regarded as ‘popular’ in
the United States and other western countries, are not considered ‘popular’ and remain an
exclusive preserve of the elites in Africa as well as many third world regions. Such is the
contradiction of popular culture within the Western/European and African contexts.
Rather they are an exclusive preserve of the elite and are often appropriated as high culture. Such
is the contradiction of popular culture within the Western/ African contexts. Popular music is
generally known to have strong appeal among the young people (see Defleur and Dennis, 1994).
Hence, the next section explores notion of youth cultures and the increasing popularities of youth
The Aid concerts held in Britain and US includes the one to fight Ethiopian famine in 1985 and the more recently
‘Hope for Haiti Now’ concert aimed at providing relief for the earthquake victims in Haiti in 2010.
Youth Culture and Youth Study
Although Hall and Jefferson (1976) admit that determining the meaning of ‘youth culture’ is
extremely difficult, one may deductively put it that ‘youth culture’ refers to the cultural aspects
of youth.
The concept ‘youth’ appeared as an emergent category in post-war Britain, where they were
adjudged as one of the most striking and visible manifestations of social change in the period
(Clark and Hall, 1976). There is some level of consensus among scholars and theorists, that the
1940s and 1950s was a time young people’s lives became increasingly characterised by a degree
of instability and transition. According to Andy Bennett (2001: 7), it was at these times ‘youth’
changed from a taken-for-granted and largely unacknowledged transitional stage between
childhood and adulthood to a cultural category marked by particular stylistic trends, tastes in
music and accompanying patterns of consumption. Hence studies began to emerge which views
adolescents as individuals who constitute a liminal period of time, during which they break free
from many features of childhood without yet fully adopting all the characteristics associated with
being an adult (Hodkinson, 2007).
‘Class’ was instrumental to the development and redefinition of youth in the post-Second World
War youth market. After the war, many youths who joined the working class (with no formal
training) suddenly had money and became independent from their families. It was around this
time teenagers began to identify themselves as a distinct group (Bennett, 2001). This also led to
widespread of music and style-driven youth culture as new demand for consumer products was
met by a rapid expansion in the types of commodities available (see Bennett, 2001; Hall and
Jefferson, 1976; Hebdige, 1979; Bobcock, 1993; Chaney, 1996; Leys, 1983).
Since the turn of the twenty-first century, scholarship on youths have increased. Although the
study of youth in the 1950s played a central role, particularly in anthropology, giving rise to a
still-thriving cross-cultural approach to adolescence as a life stage, these studies were faulted for
obscuring young people's own cultural agency, as they were conducted solely in relation to adult
concerns (Bucholtz, 2002: 525; Livingstone, 2002).
By contrast, sociology considered youth cultures as central objects of study, whether as ‘deviant’
subcultures or as class-based sites of ‘resistance’. Here, it is assumed that youths generally
exhibit certain characteristics which tend to make them form subcultures in an attempt to
separate themselves from the larger community by various means (De Klerk, 1997; Hodkinson &
Deicke, 2007). For instance Talcott Parsons’ study in 1949 study reveals that ‘youth culture’ in
the United States at this time was dominated by the rejection and breaking away from adulthood
responsibilities in favour of ‘having a good time’ to deal with the strains of their transition (see
Parsons, 1949: 101)
Not until recently, a third approach, an anthropology of youth, began to take shape. This
approach to youth study was sparked mainly by the stimuli of modernity and globalization and
the ambivalent engagement of youth in local contexts (Bucholtz, 2002). The anthropology of
youth is characterised by its attention to the agency of young people, its concern to document not
just highly visible youth cultures, but the entirety of youth cultural practice, and its interest in
how identities emerge in a new cultural formation that creatively combine elements of global
capitalism transnationalism and local culture (Bucholtz, 2002: 525). The impacts of modernity
on youth in industrialised societies are claimed to be the cause of "identity crises" as they resolve
psychic conflicts with their adult roles (Erikson 1968). These difficulties are believed to be more
endemic and compounded among adolescent youths in indigenous societies undergoing rapid
cultural change because such young people face tensions between core rigid tradition and
innovation (modern technologies) (Bucholtz, 2002). Youths in these communities often
constitute subculture groups; a distinct group against the significant or dominant larger culture
(cf. Gelder, 2005; Kahn & Kellner, 2005). This distinct groups who are distinguished by age and
generation, are referred to as the ‘youth subcultures’ (Hall & Jefferson, 1976: 15).
Youth Subculture33
The term ‘subculture’ was originally introduced by the Chicago School (Bucholtz, 2002), and
subsequently appropriated by the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies
(CCCS), to explain the meaning and style of post-war working class youths in Britain. According
to the CCCS, working class youth appropriated style in strategies of resistance to both the ruling
class ideology and to structural changes taking place in the British society during the 1960s.
The theoretical underpinnings of the concept of subculture is further explained in chapter 3
Thus, subcultures were defined social groups distinguished from the dominant society by its own
normative structures, rules and, in the case of youth subcultures, style of dress and musical taste
(Bennett, 2001: 171). The concept which has been applied to various groups outside Britain has
seen a definition broadened to encompass “groups which are in some way represented as non‐
normative or marginal through their particular interests and practices, through what they are,
what they do and where they do it” (Gelder, 2005: 1).
Subcultures traditionally represent alternative cultures and practices to the dominant culture of
the established society; they are believed to be formed as a creative expression of cultural
difference by a marginalised group. They are also generally known to construct themselves
within and against the governing culture from which they are born. Their comparatively small
population size, associations, manifold novelties and activist temperaments, all serve to ensure
that subcultures are constructed (Kahn & Kellner, 2005). Many of the earliest studies on
subcultures tend to focus on the notion of ‘class’ as the basis for subculture identity, however, in
recent times, identities of subculture are viewed in terms of taste and aesthetics (Bucholtz, 2002;
Ball, Maguire & MacRae, 2000).
Clarke and Jefferson (1973: 1) cautions that researchers must refrain from viewing all youth
cultures as a “single invariant entity” but that each cultural group be examined and viewed in a
monolithic sense where each group develops its own unique characteristics all within a single
large concept of culture. Hence the Khwe youth subculture, who are children of immigrant
Bushmen are investigated bearing in mind that their history as well as social-cultural context of
their existence may result to a unique characteristics which are peculiar to them (unlike previous
subculture studies which have mostly been conducted among city-dwelling
youths). This
peculiarity is reflected in James Coleman (1961) study, which reveals that youths and
adolescents from the lower-class exhibited an ‘interesting’ cultural pattern which deviates from
the general adolescent culture.
Consequently, Frank Musgrove (1965) proposes the following categories of youth culture:
delinquent, separatist cultural, political and conformist. He further states that the conformists are
the only groups whose way of life is sustained; other groups are perceived to exhibit varying
characters as a result of frustrations, conflicts and strains caused by the expectation of adults
while in grammar school (high school). He thus concludes that adolescence or youth culture “is
essentially a created socio-psychological category caused by a prolonged admittance into the
adult world and ultimately complicated by class-based problems (cf. Clarke & Jefferson, 1973).
The Khwe youth hip-hoppers are regarded as subculture because they have formed a group from
the larger Khwe culture and are bound by similar values orientation and styles. They may be
regarded as conformist (based on Musgrove’s categorisation) as their ideology seem to conform
and influenced by the South African youth landscape.
South African Youth Culture
South African youth culture and identities according to Jane Battersby (2003) are rooted in local
historical experiences of the general population. In other words (as argued earlier), the cultural
identity in the present day South Africa is constructed from political disenfranchisement and the
struggle against apartheid. This is reflected in many contemporary studies which seem to analyse
youth culture along racial lines (e.g. Smith, 2011; Strelitz, 2005; Nuttall, 2004; Dolby, 2001).
Moreover, many of the studies seem to focus more on youth media consumption and cultural
agencies, rather than significant subcultural styles among youths.
The few studies on hip-hop culture among youths have also been analysed along the racial lines.
For instance, Battersby (2003) and Farzanah Badsha (2003) studies focused on identity
construction among hip-hop groups in coloured community, while studies such as Thokozani
Mhlambi (2004) and Rene Smith (2011) have focused on youth cultures in black townships.
Despite the fact that many youth studies in South Africa tended towards race, Batterby (2003)
believes popular music culture of hip-hop34 in particular seem to have bypassed the racial barrier.
In a similar vein, one may argue that the history of the Khwe Bushmen as well as their multiple
migrations and resettlements in some ways affects their cultural behaviours expressed through
hip-hop music today. The next section comprehensively reviews literatures on hip-hop and hiphop culture.
This is further discussed under the title ‘hip-hop in South Africa.’
Hip-hop Culture
Origin and History
Hip-hop is a wide street-cultural form which began with its rap component among a youth
subculture within the African-American community in Bronx, New York, United States during
the mid-1970s (Neal, 1999). In its simplest form, rap is a form of rhymed storytelling
accompanied by highly rhythmic, electronically based music (Rose, 1992). According to Lipsitz
(1994a), hip-hop began as a result of the tensions that were being created as a consequence of
urban renewal programmes and economic recession. An American street gang member by the
name “Afrika Bambaataa” formed a group called ‘The Zulu Nation’, in an attempt to channel the
anger of the young people the in South Bronx away from gang fighting.
In the late 1990s, hip-hop in the United States began to sell more than ever as the annual record
turnover of hip-hop music reached $100 million in the year 1988. This accounted for 2% of the
music industry’s sales. By the year 1993, the hip-hop genre had generated more than $700
million in annual revenue (Rose, 1994). It’s musical and visual brand has been appropriated by
white popular music and was also used for soft drink commercials (McLeod, 1999). By 1998,
hip-hop music sales continued to outpace the music industry gains in general. With a 31%
increase over the previous year, compared to the music industry’s 9% increase, hip-hop outsold
the previous top-selling format; country music (Farley, 1999; McLeod, 1999).
In the year 1999, exactly 20 years after the first hip-hop record was released, hip-hop music and
culture became firmly among the U.S popular35 cultures. In the course of one month in 1999,
Time magazine devoted its cover story to hip-hop, while Fugees member, Lauryn Hill took home
the first album-of-the-year Grammy awarded to a hip-hop artist (McLeod, 1999). Even the Music
Television; MTV, which had been reluctant to air hip-hop music videos, devoted 7 days of its
programming to hip-hop during its much-hyped “Hip-Hop Week” (Farley, 1999; McLeod,
1999). Nowadays, with over 100 million audiences worldwide, hip-hop has indeed become a
global brand; its popularity is similar to pop music culture in terms of global appeal, aesthetics
and use in new social and linguistic environments (Motley et al., 2008; Androutsopoulous &
Scholz, 2003). Hip-hop has been reproduced, appropriated and adapted within different national
Popular here , being the second meaning discussed under the heading ‘popular music culture’
and even racial contexts in recent times. Thus, the linguistic style in hip-hop varies from one
locale to another (McLeod, 1999).
The ‘Culture’ of Hip-hop
Hip-hop is regarded as ‘cultural’ because it contains the key elements and patterns of symbolic
action and meaning that are deeply felt, commonly intelligible and widely shared among
members of the hip-hop community (see Carbaugh, 1988: 38). This is also in tandem with
Ferraro’s (1998: 16) assertion that “for an idea, or a behavior to be considered cultural, it must be
shared by some type of social group.
Today, the same culture that began among a small subculture of young city-dwelling AfricanAmericans has metamorphosed into a global youth expression and a phenomenon which
continues to penetrate into nearly every country. This has also attracted wide academic research
(see, Motley et. 2008; Bennett, 1999; Warren et al., 2010; Fenn et al., 2008; Lang, 2000; Alim,
2009; Taylor et al., 2007). The booming market of hip-hop scholarship spans a number of
different approaches which includes inter alia Afrocentricism, commercialism, postmodernism,
post-colonialism and pedagogy in hip-hop culture (Huq, 2007: 79).
The culture of hip-hop incorporates four prominent elements: Mc-ing (i.e., the oral: rapping),
tagging or bombing (i.e., the visuals: marking the walls of buildings and subways with graffiti),
DJ-ing (i.e., aural: collaging the best fragments of records by using two turntables) and breaking
(i.e., physical: break-dancing; Hager, 1984). Although the graffiti element became synonymous
with hip-hop in the early 1980s, when hip-hop gangs and street kids in the United States go
around the neighborhood with spray cans tagging and scribbling their gang names on city walls,
graffiti existed long before hip-hop began in many parts of the world. For instance, the Chinese
communist leader Mao Zedong was said to have used graffiti in the 1920s, for his slogans and
paintings during his revolution (see Morwe, 2010).
The commercialisation of hip-hop music expanded hip-hop culture to include verbal language,
body language, attitude, style and fashion (Kitwana, 2002). Hence, the fashion of saggy,
oversized and skinny pants, baseball caps, and designer sneakers which are a leading style for
teenage boys worldwide are some of the hip-hop styles which have become an important
business venture in the entire music industry (see Condry, 2000b; Fenn & Perullo, 2000; Perullo,
Hip-hop has also transcended the racial barrier. For instance, Jason Rodriquez (2006) explained
how white youths in the United States culturally appropriated hip-hop by removing the racially
coded meanings embedded in the music and replacing them with colour-blind36 ones. This
provides whites with the discursive resources to justify their presence in the scene (formally
regarded as blacks’), and more importantly, to appropriate hip-hop for their own purposes. The
ways in which hip-hop has been modified in different places to reflect the social milieu and
environment, it is being used, is the focus in the next section.
Adapting Hip-hop in Local Contexts
There have been numerous studies on the intersections of ‘the local’ and the global in youth
music cultures. Young people for decades are known to take-up global music cultures (such as
hip-hop) and transform it for their own local use (see Bennett, 2000; S. Cohen, 1991; Eflein,
1996; Kahn-Harris 2000; Shank, 1994). More recent studies such as Joseph Sciorra (2011) reveal
how white Italians artistically created “hip-wop” from the mainstream hip-hop by carving out the
gangster image which dominates the narrative from the United States popular imagination of hiphop found at the confluence of film, television, videos and internet. Similarly, Peter Webb (2007)
study also shows how a youth population in Bristol (South West England) adapted and
transformed the global hip-hop music culture and genre to a localised form tagged ‘trip hop’
Although the commercialisation and modification of hip-hop over the years has caused many to
challenge its authenticity as an underground youth culture (e.g. McLeod, 1999; Clay, 2003),
some other authors agree that the core essence of hip-hop remain authentic and is still being
generally shared by marginalised groups worldwide. It is believed that hip-hop gives a voice to
the otherwise voiceless and marginalised in the society (Osumare, 2001; Kaikati, 2004; Motley
et al., 2008). In other words, “It is malleable and adapted to speak to members of multiple
national cultures, and localised socioeconomic and political conditions” (Motley et al., 2008: 1).
Hip-hop culture not only encompasses commonalities among collective marginalities it can also
Color-blind ideology is the assertion of essential sameness between unequal racial and ethnic groups in America
(Frankenberg 1993).
be adapted to any local, socioeconomic or political environments. This makes hip-hop the most
widely appropriated cultural forms into new contexts around the world today (see Morgan,
forthcoming). Hence, Carol Motley et al. (2008) conclude that hip-hop as a global youth culture
is glocalised. The next section discusses how hip-hop has been re-contexualised within Africa.
‘The Afro Hip-hop’: Adaptation of Hip-hop in Africa
Hip-hop in Africa is ultimately linked to globalisation (ShivJi, 2006); a process which also led to
the expansion of neoliberal economic and political structures that resulted in socioeconomic
some development (Ntatangwi, 2009). The emergence of non-governmental radio and TV
stations in the mid-1990s who were bent on competing with the established state-owned for
customer base (to diversify their products to draw lucrative advertisement) led to general access
to recording and studio equipment. It was at this point in time that local production of high
quality music became available for airplay on the new growing private radio stations ((Bougault,
1995). This brought about a culture where young and enthusiastic youths in Africa began to go to
studios for recording on high quality compact discs which are aired on the radio and TV stations
(Ntatangw, 2009).
Although, the globalisation of hip-hop has occurred in a number of ways in Africa, scholars such
as Tope Omoniyi (2006), believe the most prominent among is the establishment and growth of
the music dedicated channel ‘Music Television (MTV)’. They posit that it is the creation and set
up of MTV’s 100th channel in Africa that led to the boom in local hip-hop within the continent.
This perhaps explains why some youths from Khwe community admitted to getting accustomed
to hip-hop after watching music videos of hip-hop artist performance on the MTV channel on
Digital Satellite Television (DStv). This was after their initial listenership of
the genre on the local community radio established in their community.
MultiChoice is South African-based pay-media company which offers the DStv service both locally and across the
South African continent
Case Studies across Africa
Since African music generally goes beyond its natural aesthetic function to reasserting an
erstwhile African identity, hip-hop naturally blended with the African culture to reveal the
sociocultural realities of the African youths (Lemelle, 2006; Ntarangwi, 2007; Ntatangwi, 2009).
For instance, in the East Africa, it is used to create spaces through which youths penetrate the
public domain that often excludes them in favour of those (adults) who wield social, political and
economic power. It has been employed as a force that the youths use to position themselves in an
ever changing world Ntatangwi (2009). Another study conducted by Chris Wasike (2011) in
Nairobi, Kenya, reveals how a localised hip-hop rap called ‘genge’ helps to give voice to
marginalised urban youths.
In the Western parts of Africa, hip-hop was re-Africanised in local contexts through the addition
of traditional linguistic and cultural elements (Savishinsky 1994). This led to it being tagged
‘Afro hip-hop’. Although the ‘Afro hip-hop’ remains a sub-variety of ‘‘mainstream’’ hip-hop
based on ideological similarities (Toynbee, 2002), however, the western core traditions and the
descriptive features in the mainstream form of hip-hop is indigenised into local varieties in West
Africa (Omoniyi, 2006). For example Omoniyi (2006) explains that the Nigerian hip-hop music
assumes a translocal dimension through discursive negotiated and constructed linguistic tools
such as code switching (CS), reinterpretation, (co-) referencing, and colloquialisms.
The use of hip-hop in the southern Africa is slightly different but similar to its use as a protest
tool in the United States. Due to a similar history and experiences of racial oppression, the youth
culture in the region is generally modeled along African- American culture (see Rosenburg,
2002; Selikow et al., 2002). South African youths to be specific employed hip-hop to resist the
racial oppression of the white ruling class during apartheid (Copland, 1985; Nixon, 1994;
Rosenberg, 2002; Selikow et al., 2002; Rosenberg, 2002; Everatt et al., 1992). And since the
South African music culture is envisaged to have influenced the culture of the Khwe Bushmen
since their immigration into the country in 1990, it is important to comprehensively discuss the
South African hip-hop scene.
Hip-hop in South Africa38
The music culture of hip-hop began in South Africa (SA) as rap in the Cape Flats39 near the city
of Cape Town as an underground movement in the early 1980s. This was at a time when
government repression and the ban of protesting organisations and individuals meant that that
people had to find new ways to protest and express their grievances. The marginalised youth
population at this time began by adapting the lyrics the US hip-hop group; “The Public Enemy”,
transforming their songs such as "Fight the Power" as a special resilience to fight their own
revolution (Battersby, 2003).
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in his foreword of Sue Williamson (2004) explained that
resistant tools such as hip-hop and other art forms were used to transcend the youth’s horrendous
experience and circumstance into an expressive form against the hostile apartheid forces that
demean and dehumanise them. Hip-hop at this time became a radical and an alternative medium
that challenged the status quo in the absence of the government-controlled mainstream media.
The marginalised youths engaged in it to create and set their own rules and values to achieve
success outside the white ruling class socially prescribed norms (See also Copland, 1985; Everatt
et al., 1992; Nixon, 1994; Rosenberg, 2002).
The Complexity of Post-Apartheid South African Hip-hop
Hip-hop has indeed undergone some sort of a rebirth since the emergence of Nelson Mandela as
the first democratically elected president in April 1994. The freedom of expression that came
with democracy meant a commercialisation of musical forms and cultures, and hip-hop was not
left out (Bodunrin, 2014).
The same culture that was embedded in conflict, acted through resistance and evasion, and
rooted in a conflictual ideology by youths to develop a critical common voice during apartheid
have in recent years evolved into a less defiant, aesthetic and popular urban youth culture of all
races. For instance, it is uncommon to see white kids engaging in hip-hop (Bodunrin, 2014). By
transcending the racial barrier, Battersby (2003) concludes that hip-hop can be seen as post38
Parts of this section was published in the Jornal; Media Development (see,
The cape flats were apartheid designated rural settlements for non-whites. It has since been home to majority of
the population of greater Cape Town (
colonial (apartheid) text which reflects the new identities of South Africa’s racial groups and
The commodification and popularity of hip-hop in SA also meant it is now backed by big
organisations, government and NGOs to pursue their own agenda. For instance, rap is mainly
sponsored by multinational companies, such as Coca-Cola. The government and NGOs have
pounced on the popularity of hip-hop to foster campaigns, promote tourism businesses as well as
well as public sensitisation on issues such as HIV/AIDS, political apathy etc. In the case of rap,
liquor and multi-national companies such as telecommunication giants such as MTN have
supported hip-hop artistes by signing them on as brand ambassadors. These collaborations have
greatly helped to alleviate the negative perceptions attached to hip-hop since the apartheid years
(Bodunrin, 2014).
In spite of these many efforts aimed at giving hip-hop a positive outlook, some urban hiphoppers continue to deploy hip-hop as protest tool and deviancy. Ngoan’a Nts’oana (2014)
reveals that many hip-hop rap Artists who use their music to point out social issues encountered
mostly by working class South Africans today (such as unemployment, poverty, etc.), often face
rejection from commercial radio stations and corporate sponsors who deems it unfit for their
agenda. Although many of such artists have used the social media platform such as YouTube to
distribute their music, they nevertheless struggle to get attention and commercial success of
mainstream artists.
Despite these difficulties encountered in utilising hip-hop as a protest tool in many urban cities in
South Africa today, many marginalised youths in the peripheries continue to engage in rap as a
means to create spaces to penetrate into the public domain that often excludes them in favour of
adults while some rural communities with no access to the mainstream media (Bodunrin, 2014).
For instance, the Khwe Youths as revealed in this study utilise hip-hop rap as a way of voicing
themselves as a people fully present in modern society. Their rap music reflects the sociocultural and economic reality of the present struggles (see, Robbins, 2004).
Hence, hip-hop in South Africa remains powerful in the hands of marginalised groups,
particularly those in townships with limited access to the mainstream media, while the increasing
popularity of social media in the country may potentially bring back the old protest hip-hop
culture among urban youths (Bodunrin, 2014).
The business of hip-hop Africa
MTN runs the Nigerian music industry; alcohol brands own South
African hip-hop; Nestle sponsors rappers in Senegal (Monaheng,
Although the audience base of hip-hop is still relatively low, the music has indeed taken a new
form and phase. However, unlike in the United States where hop-hop artists such as Shawn
Corey Carter (popularly known by his stage name Jay-Z), has become financially successful and
attained the status of a billionaire (Pinn, 2014), African atists go through complex systems in
order to profit from their musical works.
One of South Africa’s most popular hip-hop artist, Sizwe Moeketsi, when asked for his opinion
on the profitability of the SA hip-hop music industry responds that “…essentially the means of
obtaining wealth is unconventional, but the opportunities are endless should you work hard
enough and smart enough”40. The corporate companies appoint hip-hop artists as brand
ambassadors in a bide to penetrate the youth market in the continent (Monaheng, 2014). Since the
audience base of hip-hop is low and still within Africa, Artists make significant profits via these
ambasodorial jobs and sponsored gigs (Monaheng, 2014).
Hip-hop of Deviance, Resistance and Violence
Hip-hop culture often times validates, legitimises and celebrates experiences of
violence, pain… (Ginwright, 2004: 32)
Because hip-hop stems from the tide of interracial violence as a means through which African
American youths address related social problems such as poverty, racism and low self-esteem
(see Androutsopoulous and Scholz, 2003; Bennett, 2001; Motley et al., 2008;), many scholars
Cited in Mail and Guardian of 8 April, 2013 see
believe deviancy, resistance and violence remain the hallmarks of today’s hip-hop (See, O’Brian,
1996; Ginwright, 2004).
This is perhaps why hip-hop is generously more censored when compared to other contemporary
youth music (Bennett, 2001: 89). The media in particular have been accused of fixating on these
alleged violent and misogynistic characteristics of hip-hop to the extent that any other
representation of the music and its social significance are largely ignored or prevented from
entering into the sphere of public perception (Epstein et al., 1990; Dyson, 1996). This
sensationalised media reporting of hip-hop for example, led to the decision to ban young people
from wearing sweatshirts or ‘hoodies41’ in the Blew Water shopping complex in Kent, England.
Shoppers alleged that they found the presence of hoodie wearing young people intimidating.
Hence, Bennett (2007) concludes that the decision to ban hoddies was undoubtedly a result of
media reports citing a link between hip-hop and gun crime.
The youths in recent years have generally been described as a ‘lost generation’ who unable to
deal with complex situations, find diplomatic means and solutions such as hip-hop to relieve
themselves of their adverse circumstances. In other words they employ hip-hop to cope with
social pressure; political instability and economic hardship (see O’Brian, 1996; Bucholtz, 2002;
MacDonald, 1997). Studies have shown that, the marginalised youths who experience more
dramatic pressure and who listen to rap are more likely to be deviant and violent (see Dave
Miranda & Michel Claes, 2004).
In Africa, Alex Perullo (2005) records that hip-hop (particularly those emanating from the
marginalised suburbs) is perceived and associated with violence and hooliganism. Youths had to
project themselves as creative and empowered individuals in the society. Perullo believes youths
in these areas have turned the foreign form of hip-hop into a critical medium of social
empowerment to alter the conceptions of youths as hooligans.
Authors such as Spencer-Oatey (2008) however, caution that it is not enough to assume that
similar cultural groups exhibit exactly the same trait. To him “behavioural conventions, beliefs,
policies and procedures shared by a group of people, and that influence (but do not determine)
each member’s behavior” and his/her interpretations of the ‘meaning’ of other people’s
a popular fashion garment made popular by through hip-hop style
behavior”. In simple terms, the definition backs the possibility of a social group such as hip-hop
to interpret and exhibit different behaviours across different social environments or contexts.
Although people generally perceive hip-hop as violent and deviant, the researcher believes there
are still specific individual differences in character of different individuals and groups engaged
in hip-hop (see Bodunrin, 2014).
Also, it is important to note that some studies within the subcultural frames agree that deviance is
not necessarily something bad or socially unacceptable. Scholars operating within this paradigm
often reference to the work of Frederic Thrasher (1927) which states that ‘‘the gang makes an
indispensable contribution to personality, and a contribution which adults sometimes overlook.
One learns morality in the gang and one learns to take punishment’’. It is believed that deviance
is normal, and in fact provides individuals with agency and creativity in the face of moral
obligations. Thus, a deviant subculture is created to counter anomie, where symbols, rituals, and
meaning promote social cohesion (Blackman 2010b:202)
Hence, In the case of the Khwe hip-hop subculture, it is important to understand the deviance
exhibited by the Khwe youth subculture (as a result of hip-hop acculturation) which many
consider an act of civil waywardness and youth delinquency may also be viewed in a positive
light. In other words, it may be viewed as a normal behaviour which results from the sharp
differences or level of modernization between them and the older generation. A particular study
conducted by Rupa Huq (2007: 79) argues that hip-hop in recent times has broadened its scope
from its original remit and utilised in numerous ways in public policy contexts spanning
education and youth services (see also Irizarry, 2009). In the next section discursively identifies
and argues globalisation as the main causal factor for the emergence of global cultures among
local and indigenous youths such as the Khwe hip-hoppers.
Globalisation – The erosion of local boundaries
If places are thought of as settled, coherent worlds of their own, then they are
surely under challenge in an age when everywhere seems to be opened up to
wider forces. The constant interconnections – of economics, culture, ecology –
mean that any notion of an internally generated uniqueness of a place is hard to
sustain (Massy & Jess, 1995).
Although the concept of globalisation has attracted wide academic literatures in different field of
studies (such as medicine, economics, political science, history, anthropology and many other
fields of studies); it is in the field of media, communication and cultural studies that
globalisation’s manifestation has been most visible (see McChesney, 2003; Thussa, 2009).
Unlike culture, globalisation is a fairly recent concept used to describe the; interconnection,
liberalisation, universalisation, westernisation and internationalisation of the globe (Jenson,
2011: 54). The term that best captures the effects of globalisation (in terms of the erosion of local
boundaries) over the past decades is ‘deterritorialisation’– a conception of the territorial where
social, economic and political spaces are no longer necessary geographic (see Appadurai, 1990).
The concept is most embodied in Andy Bennet (2001: 167) definition of globalisation as the
process by which globally exported information, images and goods particularly from the West,
results into a flattening out process of the local cultures or subsumed by a unified global culture.
For millennia, identity was largely derived from the landscapes and geographic locals people
inhabited. It was almost impossible to envision an identity detached from the part of the world
that one and his ancestors resided (Jenson, 2011). However, globalisation as witnessed in the
present era has enabled the development of spaces which have no tangible connection with one’s
own geographical area (Jenson, 2011); much in tandem with Marshall McLuhan’s 1964
prediction of a single ‘global village’.
Although is totally not a new phenomenon (see, George Klay, 2008; McQuay, (2010) the idea of
modern globalisation began in the years after the Second World War, when the passing away of
the bi-polar world (represented by the defunct Soviet Union and United States) ushered in this
current age of globalisation (Jurgen Osterhammel et al, 2005). In essence, globalisation may be
divided into two phases; ‘the old globalisation’ and ‘the new globalisation’ (see Klay, 2008). The
old globalisation were the years before 1990 when the rise of capitalism in the industrial age
meant resources were been siphoned from the rest of the world to develop Western countries.
The new globalisation on the other hand emerged and replaced the old at the beginning of 1990.
It is the most expansive and technologically advanced of all phases of globalisation because it
incorporated the once marginalised developing countries into the global capitalist system (Klay,
2008: 383).
While some have identified cultural and economic forces42 as the main contributors the rapid
spatial transformation that characterises globalisation (McQuail, 2010; McChesney, 2003),
others believe that it is the rise of global telecommunication that led to a worldwide export of the
American culture via platforms such as the new media of films, television and recorded music
that has contributed the most to this cultural/geographic merger (Jenson, 2011; Salawu, 2010).
No doubt the media has become ‘global’ and a central force in the production of global cultural
identity. It has also become object/subject of attention from researchers and theorists who
explored its basic structure (McQuay, 2010). The underlying idea in their debates is that a central
pattern of ‘core’ and ‘periphery’ relationship exists between nations. Hence, the global media
strongly reflect the agenda and cultures of the core, which is the United States-led Western
World (see, Croucher, 2004; Osterhammel & Peterson, 2005; Hurst, 1997; Salawu, 2010; Jenson,
2011). This has culminated into the global media scholarship which focuses on the thesis that
analyses the media as an instrument of cultural domination which reflects the unequal power
relationship between nations who dominate the production of contents on the global media and
those that import such media (See McAnany, 2003; Tomlinson, 1991; Chopra, 2011).
Media/Cultural Imperialism Thesis
It is generally agreed that the disintegration of the then Soviet Union, brought about a unipolar
world in which the United States as the leads as the pathfinder and agenda-setter to the rest of the
globe (Salawu, 2010: 66; McQuail, 2008: 248). This results in a situation where the United
States-led West is presented as the ultimate while the other alternative ideas or culture have been
made to look retrogressive, unproductive, ‘uncultural’, and clearly irrelevant to the present age
(Salawu, 2010: 66; McQuail, 20o8: 249). This is similar to the notion of the media imperialism.
According to Dennis McQuail (2008: 257) the media imperialism thesis is mainly based on the
following propositions;
The global media promote relations of dependency rather than economic growth
Globalisation after the second world is believed to have been driven by the global expansion of multinational
corporations based in the US
The imbalance in the flow of mass media content undermines cultural autonomy or holds
back development
The unequal relationship in the flow of news increases the relative global power of a
large, wealthy news-producing countries and hinders the growth of an appropriate natural
That global media flows give rise to a state of cultural homogenisation or
synchronisation, leading to a dominant form of culture that has no specific connection
real experience of most people
As a result of Western domination, African nations in the 1990s came to a consensus to ‘reawake Africa’ (Mafeje, 1992). This led to African scholarship which critically contested the
‘Eurocentric approaches’ and views in the area of media and culture. It was hoped that this
process will help counter the universalising of the Western theorising and to pay more attention
to neglected ‘indigenous’ of communication, culture and language (Salawu, 2006; Mano, 2009).
It was also around this time the African academic field of communication and media studies
began to undergo major changes and re-conceptualise to be more responsive to global and
international demands. This was imperative for the African scholarship which had been
undermined by the colonial legacies that apparently supported the Western domination and
hegemony (Mano, 2009).
The continued emphasis and focus on cultural domination and dependency was, however
criticised for neglecting the adaptation of global products into local conditions (Morley, 2006).
In other words, it simply assumes the conception of a native culture under threat from the West
and the passivity on the part of the audience. It neglects the willingness, acceptance and requests
by some mass audiences of popular culture (Morley, 2006; McQuay, 2008). Hence, McQuail
(2010) concludes that the critics of the global media imperialism have generally been countered
with a mixed set of supporters who see the imbalance of the flow as a normal feature of the
media market and not necessarily problematic but beneficial for all.
It is Biltereyst (1992) that best captures this situation. To him, both paradigms are faulted and
empirically based on weak grounds because the critical dependency model is largely based on
evidence of quantity flow with limited interpretation of ideological tendencies of the content.
While the free flow theorists tend to assume minimal effects on the grounds that the audience is
voluntary thereby making large assumptions about cultural neutrality and ideologically
innocence of the globally traded content. This perhaps made David Morley (2006) to propose
that media studies within the frames of cultural imperialism must focus on the agency of the
audience, especially those in the remote areas to reflect the multi-polarity of the world.
Similarly, Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi (1997) argues that the realm of cultural imperialism
should be analysed based on the anthropological view of culture as the practice of everyday life
rather than reducing it based on the post-World War II Phenomenon such as the Marxist-inspired
dependency theory. Sreberny-Mohammadi (1997) believes using post-colonial studies as the
basis of media studies scholarship helps to objectively locate media representations of the other
(national, racial, ethnic and sexual).
Post-structuralism – a recent approach was thus developed to provide analytical techniques and
concepts that can be used to assess media technologies in the late-postmodern culture (Chopra,
2011). The thesis of media imperialism is explored in the present study to understand the logic
behind the acculturation of hip-hop (an Americanised culture) by an indigenous youth
subculture. The study uses a post-structuralist lens in the study of the acculturation process
which was made possible by the trans-border exchange of information via the ‘the new media’ or
‘the global media system’ (cf. McQuail, 2010: 259). Many scholars have interpreted the cultural
flow of hip-hop within the framework of cultural imperialism, in which urban and cosmopolitan
cultures are imposed on provincial and peripheral communities, or as resistance, in which the
provinces and peripheries appropriate the codes and forms of the mainstream and transform the
hybrid into a valuable and popular commodity (Toynbee, 2002:160; Omoniyi, 2006).
While many countries and communities in outside the United States have appropriated the
mainstream hip-hop and style, removing features such as vulgarity, gangsta, heavy sexualisation,
misogyny, politics and monolingualism which are not in agreement with their indigenous values
and culture (Omoniyi, 2006), others such as the Khwe have appropriated the culture of hip-hop
in its entirety including its expletives.
Hence, hip-hop has been perceived as a U.S.-centric ‘born in the USA’ culture and musical style
(Huq, 2007: 81). The Khwe youths have also utilised the platform provided by the act and
culture of hip-hop to articulate their struggles, creating identities for themselves in a digital post-
modern media world and to compete in urban spaces (Bodunrin, 2014). Although some sections
of the older generation perceive the current trend among the Khwe youth as a feature of
civilisation, others perceive it as the genesis of the deviancy and youth delinquency in the
community as a result of exposure to the global media. The relationship between young people
and media is the focus in the next section.
Youths and Media
Globally, young people’s lives are increasingly mediated by the new media or information and
communication technologies, yet these technologies also depend on the social and cultural
context of their daily lives (Livingstone, 2002). It is believed that the media has historically been
positioned as the ‘valian’ as they are often viewed as a threat to the vitality of youth cultures as
forums for authenticity and resistance. The media have been accused by numerous contemporary
scholars for the ideology that they promote both about and to the young people (Bucholtz, 2002:
541). However, in spite of these negativities, studies have shown that media forms can be
beneficial to youths as they increasingly been embraced by youths seeking like-minded other
beyond the local communities (Leonard, 1998; Willard, 1998).
This made Buchotlz (2002: 541) to conclude that “the relationship between resistance,
authenticity and cultural appropriation remains an extremely complex one”. For instance, in the
United States, body modification (piercing, tattooing, scarification, etc.) is understood by its
practitioners both as a resistance to the dominant capitalist system and as a therapeutic recovery
of the authentic self (Rosenblatt, 1997). Whatsoever one thinks of the media, the fact remains
that it fosters the formation of a new culture and identity in the present era, and this effect is most
felt in the in the modernising areas (Miles, 2000). Through the new media technology, global
and popular cultures such as hip-hop has been circulated and appropriated into the everyday life
of youths. In other words, the production and consumption of music is increasingly reliant on
these emerging media technologies (Warren & Evitt, 2010). Although many earliest studies on
youth culture and lifestyle undermine the importance of the media, however, the emergence of
the new media technologies as a major force in the construction of identity worldwide makes it
an important topic of discourse in the present study (see McQuail, 2010).
The New Media Culture
A media culture has emerged in which images, sounds, and spectacles help produce the
fabric of everyday life, dominating leisure time, shaping political views and social
behavior, and providing the materials out of which people forge their very identities… a
form of techno-culture that merges culture and technology in new forms and
configurations, producing new types of societies in which media and technology become
organising principles…but media culture is also a high-tech culture, deploying the most
advanced technologies (Kellner,1995: 1).
The pace of internationalisation affected the mass media like everything else. The media are in
fact in a special position themselves as both an object and agent of globalisation process
(McQuail, 2010). By the late 20th century, during an era marked with heated debate over
modernism and postmodernism in cultural studies, one of postmodern proponent Douglas
Kellner (1995) predicted a new era in which advancement in technologies would help constitute
a new social and cultural landscape for a vast number of people across the globe. He argued in
his book Cultural studies, identity and politics between the modern and the postmodern, that the
world was in a state of transition between the modern era and a new postmodern era where
media culture will remain the most vital tool in grasping the changes across all boundaries.
He explains further that the new media and global culture will include images, sounds, and
spectacles modeled along familiar media products of the cultural industries such as the radio,
television and film which will help produce the fabric of everyday life, shaping political views
and social behavior, and providing the materials out of which people forge their identities and
construct their sense of class, of ethnicity and race, of nationality, of sexuality, of “us” and
“them” (Douglas, 1995: 1). This has been the exact reality of the present era in which new media
technologies such as the internet and other digital technologies now provide the materials and
identities where individuals can insert themselves into contemporary social life of global culture
(cf. Jenson, 2011). The acculturation of hip-hop via the new media technology can easily be
understood based on this global media culture.
The New Media Technologies
New media technologies include; digital television, cell phones, the Internet, software
applications such as Facebook, email, blogs and all the social applications that power and run on
the internet which has enabled the composition of multimodal texts that incorporates visual, oral,
gestural and written modes of representation and communication (Kahn & Kellner, 2005; Hull
2003; Hull & Nelson 2005; Kress & Leeuwen 2001; Livingstone, 2002; Coleman, 2010).
When deployed, these technologies foster the circulation, reimagining, magnifications,
translations, revisioning, and remaking of wide range of cultural representations, experiences,
and identities which is leading to the emergence of new patterns among youths in media
discourse. (Coleman, 2010: 1). In other words, these technologies enable new forms of media
production and new social practices embraced by youths seeking like-minded others beyond the
local community. This relationship (between media and the youth) is an extremely complex one,
especially in terms of resistance, authenticity and cultural appropriation (Leonard 1998, Willard
1998) and even more complex in the indigenous communities where the encounter with new and
modern communication has been extremely recent yet the pace of technological change is
profound (Kral, 2010; Ito et al. 2008).
Thus, Rene Smith (2011: 13) proposes the need for more research on the role of the media in
everyday life and the ways in which youths are engaging with what they see on the media.
Angela McRobbie (1994: 18) also calls for a “research mode, which prioritises multiple levels of
experience, including ongoing relations which connect everyday life with cultural forms”. This is
what the present study set out to achieve by investigating how technologies such as television,
radio and internet influence the formation of new cultural landscape among the Khwe hiphoppers.
Television and the Internet
Although a number of technologies that emerged in the 20th century have generally given
globalisation a powerful push, it is the arrival of television satellites in the 1970s that broke the
principle of national sovereignty of broadcasting space, making it difficult and ultimately
impossible to offer effective resistance to television transmission and reception from outside the
national territory (McQuail, 2010).
Television today is still regarded as the most potent influence in the accelerating media
globalisation partly due to its cinema film and visual character helps to pass the barriers of
language (McQuail, 2010). In its early days, the range of terrestrial transmission was limited to
national frontiers in most countries, however, cable satellite have helped to largely overcome
these limitations.
Another new form of internationalisation is the internet, which does not have to observe
boundaries at all, even if language, although culture and social relations to ensure that frontiers
still structure the flow of content. While television still remains relevant in global flow of culture
and information, it is the internet that has most clearly achieved Manuel Castel’s notion of a
‘networked society’ (Castel, 1996; McQuail, 2010). The internet is thus regarded as the main
tool modernity, in that it connects the local with the global. Despite the many manifestations of
media globalisation, there are still very little research that actually addresses the significant local
audiences at the receiving end of the spectrum (McQuail, 2010: 254). The youths who are often
at the forefront of acculturation of new media cultures are the focus in the subsequent section.
Figure 2.2 New technologies are fostering new media culture among the Khwe Youths creating more disparities
with the older people.
Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©.
New Media as a Generational Attribute
In their book Generations, Culture and Society, June Edmunds and Bryan Turner (2002), define
a generation as ‘an age cohort that comes to have social significance by virtue of constituting
itself as a cultural identity’ (2002: 7). Generation therefore may be defined both historically and
culturally (Buckingham, 2006). Most simply, “a generation is a cohort of individuals born within
a particular time-frame; a generation may also be defined by its relationship to a particular
traumatic event, such as a world war or the great depression or the rise of fascism” (Buckingham,
2006: 2).
Media technologies seem to have a special allure which makes them very popular as generational
attributes. Media discourses and other popularising discourses have since escalated these labels
which are grounded in supposed differences in the generational use of new technologies. The
impact of modernity and economic restructuring (development) on youth in societies previously
organised in other ways is often thought to give rise to psychological stress of a kind. This causes
youths in industrialised societies to often undergo "identity crises" in these stages as they resolve
psychic conflicts with their adult roles (Erikson 1968). Researchers in a variety of cultural
settings have found that these divisions between youth and elder, modern and traditional,
conflictual and consensus are blurry and ambiguous rather than clearly differentiated (Gable
2000, Rasmussen 2000, Rea 1998, Sharp 1995).
Unlike the urban cities (where new technological cultures are easily absorbed as soon as they are
produced almost uniformly across age groups); these difficulties are believed to be more
endemic and appear compounded among adolescents in indigenous societies whom while
undergoing rapid cultural change are often faced with the dilemma of choosing between tradition
and innovation (modern technologies) (Bucholtz, 2002: 525; Frosh, 1991; Ito et al. 2008, Kress
2003; Gable 2000; Rasmussen 2000; Rea 1998; Sharp 1995; Vittadini et al., 2014).
For instance, when a new modern technology infiltrates the urban cities, they are easily absorbed
as soon as they are produced almost uniformly across age groups. But in the indigenous
communities, individuals and age groups go through appropriative complexities in adopting such
technology/innovation. Often times, these technologies create tensions and clashes between
traditional-minded adults who are proponents of the indigenous culture and the younger people
who desire change (Leis, 1972; Gable 2000; Rasmussen 2000; Rea 1998; Sharp 1995; Vittadini
et al., 2014). Hence there are tensions or clashes between the tantalising promise of modernity
and the expectations of tradition-minded adults who are proponents of the indigenous culture and
the younger people who desire change. This creates resentment among the young people caught
in the middle (Leis, 1972; Vittadini et al., 2014).
A study by Burbank (1988) reveals that indigenous youths are taking advantage of this opening
provided to transform their traditional system. For example, adolescent girls are transforming the
traditional marriage system in Aboriginal Australia by choosing premarital pregnancies while the
enculturation of hip-hop by some youth subculture is redefining the entire traditional system in a
Bushman community of Khwe. Researchers in a variety of cultural settings have found that these
divisions between youth and elder, modern and traditional, conflictual and consensus are blurry
and ambiguous rather than clearly differentiated (Gable 2000, Rasmussen 2000, Rea 1998, Sharp
Media scholars (such as Roger Silverstone) have identified the ‘double articulation of the media’
as the main causal factor for this generational divide. Silverstone (1994) opines that the
inseparability of media as material technology and as symbolic content impacts enormously on
the way peoples experience are organised by the media. He thus regards ‘experience’ as the most
important cultural glue within generations. With culture growth as an independent analytical
category in the study of society, the concept of “generations” has expanded beyond the borders
of demography and has acquired new cultural meanings (Vittadini et al., 2014). The
demographic perspective sees generation as age cohorts of people who were born and happen to
be alive at about the same time.
In the case of the Khwe, the older generations in Khwe community are split between those who
believe the youths have taken a forward step into modernity and the others who perceive the
youth as a failed deviant generation who have neglected the traditional ancestral Bushman value
and cultural way of life.
Figure 2.3 - Generations Apart: A young Khwe hip-hopper being watched by the older men as he poses for shots.
Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©.
Effects of Globalisation and New Media on Local Cultures
Globalisation if embraced will propel developing nations and societies into
modernity and affluence; if resisted it will either crush them or throw them by
the wayside (Heredia, 1997: 383)
Most scholars are split over the effects of globalisation on the local cultures. While some believe
it offers unprecedented possibilities for mutual understanding and thus enables locals to find
fresh opportunities for cross-cultural relationship, others within the imperialism thesis have
insisted that it overwhelms, overrides, dispossess and obliterate the rich local or indigenous
cultures and heritage (Salawu, 2010; Ntatangwi, 2009; ShivJi, 2006; Aina, 2004; Van
Binsbergen, 2004). No matter the intention of the proponents of both views, the owners of the
cultures eroded as a result of globalisation should not be seen to be unwittingly playing along the
game of culture supplant or emasculation of the essence being (Salawu, 2010: 66). It is thus fair
to say globalisation has both its positive and negative sides (Klay, 2008).
In Africa, globalisation is believed to be non-beneficial. This has been pinned down to the
inability of many of the African states to develop policies that will effectively tackle the multiple
cascading effects of globalisation which is leading to another ‘colonial invasion’ of Africa. A
situation whereby any culture dumped in Africa is accepted and may ultimately override the
indigenous culture in a long run. Thus, there is a need for African states must develop requisite
structures and policies to effectively manage the consequences of globalisation in the continent
(Klay, 2008).
Above view is countered by McQuays (2010) who suggests that it is individuals, not policy, law
or even economics that should be in control of the global media system. This is because it is the
individuals who know for instance the contents they want and in the languages in which they
want it. Hence it is believed that the so called media-cultural ‘invasion’ can sometimes be
resisted or redefined when individuals reconstruct it according to their own local culture and
experiences. This process, popularly called ‘glocalisation’ helps to manage the chaos caused by
the new media and globalisation (Klay, 2008; Wasserman and Rao, 2008). For instance the
incorporation and adaptation of global culture of hip-hop by the Khwe youth from international
media channels such as MTV and the internet suggests that indeed global cultural forms can be
adapted to reflect the local realities and situation.
Despite the many manifestations of media globalisation and new media technologies, McQuail,
(2008: 254) suggests that publications on the subject fail to address the significant local
audiences at the receiving end of the spectrum. It is important to research real needs of this
household kind of audiences at the receiving end of the global cultural product who are the main
mechanism of control. In other words, they determine what contents they want, how they want it
(language) and when they want it.
Figure 2.4 - With passion: The Khwe hip-hoppers articulate their struggle, anxiety, aspirations and hope via hip-hop
rap music. Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©.
At the present historical time, the swirling tides of change and diversity caused by globalisation,
which have swept through many local boundaries makes that meaning of culture even more
complicated and vague. This perhaps explains why most contemporary scholars continue to
subjectively deploy it in relation to the needs of their respective studies (Spencer-Oatey, 2012;
Appadurai, 1996).
While it may be argued that globalisation and new media technology improves lives, offers
unprecedented possibilities of fresh opportunities to acquire new tastes of foreign culture and
increases the knowledge bases social connections of locals (ShivJi, 2006; Ntatangwi, 2009;
ShivJi, 2006; Aina, 2004; Van Binsbergen, 2004), it also has the potentials to override and
dispose people of their rich indigenous local culture and heritage (Salawu, 2010). Hence there is
need to consider these two sides in particularly in the study of indigenous people whose
encounter with technology has been very recent (see, Leis 1972).
In the same vein, advancement in industrialisation, urbanisation and technology has made the
daily lives of indigenous people more complicated. Paul-Hanebrink et al. (2014) believes that the
few elites particularly the youths continue to look for a new orientation in their everyday lives.
They encounter and use the broad variety of convergence and cross-mediated media offers
available to them. It is also believed that the multiple migrations of the Khwe people as well as
the popular youth culture of South Africa, which in itself is constructed from political
disenfranchisement and struggle of apartheid affects the acculturation of hip-hop in Khwe
community (Battersby, 2003).
Since new media technologies, particularly the television and radio, which are largely influenced
by the West, are the main drivers of globalisation and global culture; here is a need to analyse
imperialist tendencies involved in the global media. Salawu (2010) believes globalisation and
new media technology may be adapted to suit the local value system to forge a unity between
new and old. It is believed that the traditionally grounded values can be recalled to serve as a
guide to the empathetic assimilation of a technologically mediated future; one where our
relationship is simple, relaxed and spiritually fulfilling (Salawu, 2010).
Similarly, Klay (2008) proposes an urgent measure to be undertaken by African countries,
particularly the local communities to properly monitor and glocalise the contents and cultures
emanating from the global media. Nevertheless, the power individuals who remain the main
mechanism of control of global cultural products must be particularly empowered to resist any
every form of imperialism (McQuay, 2008). It is envisaged that when the local and marginalised
people engaged forthrightly in the global/new media, they could effectively deploy it to
reproduce existing social struggles and discourses, articulating the fears and sufferings of
ordinary people by providing material to produce identities and make sense of the world. In other
words, when members of a marginalised or oppressed groups gain access to these media culture,
their representations may be articulated, giving alternative visions and more radical voice to their
course (Keller, 1995). Despite the many manifestations of media globalisation and new media
technologies, McQuail, (2010) observes that very little research and publications actually address
the significant local audiences at the receiving end of the spectrum.
It is against the backdrop coupled with the fact revelation by Christopher Waterman (1998) that
contemporary popular music indeed plays a significant role in the production of cultural identity
among African cultural groups that the present study focuses on the influence and effect of hihop culture on the Khwe Bushmen of Platfontein, South Africa.
The theoretical frameworks of this study are based on the subculture and cultural appropriation
theories. These theories emanate from earlier approaches in the study of youth subcultures and
lifestyles. Although, the subculture theory is the main theory of the study, the appropriation
theory is used to augment it because ‘appropriation’ is an act of subcultures. Both theories are
discussed in relation to the acculturation and the emergence of the Khwe hip-hop subculture in
Platfontein, Northern Cape, South Africa.
The Subculture Theory
The concept was first developed by the Chicago School of Sociology as a major explanatory
mechanism to understand delinquency and deviant activities such as drug taking, petty crime and
gang membership among youths in the United States in the 1920s and the 1930’s (e.g. Park,
1925; Thrasher, 1927). It was later popularised in Britain by the Birmingham Centre for
Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) based theorists who made the first sustained attempt to
study post-war youth subculture style in Britain (see Clarke & Jefferson, 1973; Hall and
Jefferson, 1976; Willis, 1978; Hebdige. 1979; Cohen, 1972/1980).
The Chicago school theorists wanted to construct a sociological model of juvenile delinquency
as an alternative to the individualist criminology account based on the notion that deviance was
symptomatic of individual disorders (see Bennett, 2001). They argue that deviance was a product
of social problems such as unemployment and poverty. Hence, deviant behaviour such as theft,
violence and drug taking could be seen as a ‘normalised’ responses through which young people
empower themselves (Bennett, 2001: 18).
Albert Cohen’s Introduction to the study of delinquent boys is generally regarded as the work
which best summarises the youth subcultural theory within which the U.S. traditional youth
research is frequently associated (see Hodkinson, 2007; Blackman, 2014). While previous
theorists such as Robert Merton (1938) had used the subculture theory to explain deviant
behaviours in terms of the rejection of dominant means or goals at the individual level, Cohen’s
(1955) theorizes youth delinquency as a collective phenomenon. He believes subcultures emerge
as a result of the ‘mutual gravitation’ of those who suffered similar ‘problems of adjustment’ as a
result of their adolescence and their disadvantaged background. Such individuals then respond to
their lack of status or direction by forming alternative sets of collective norms, rituals and values
which rendered status-worthy the characteristics, abilities and attitudes they shared (Cohen,
1955: 65-66).
The understanding of youth cultures in terms of deviancy amplification and labelling was later
developed in the context of the United Kingdom {UK} (Young 1971). In fact, contemporary
studies on adolescence as a form of subcultural rebellion has since become a theory associated
with studies and research on youth culture emanating from the Birmingham Centre for
Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) in the UK. The CCCS modified the original Chicago
school model of subculture through the application of a structural Marxist perspective that
focused more on the collective style of post-war British ‘subcultures’ such as such as the Teddy
boys, the mods and skinheads (Bennett, 2001). The Birmingham studies focused more upon
subcultures based round distinctive music and styles. Although the interpretations of the CCCS
theorists were not uniform, the prevailing view was that subcultures represent an enactment of
stylistic resistance; a subversive reaction by young people to a contradictory situation in respect
of both age and class (see Hodkinson, 2007: 5).
In spite of the CCCS influence in subcultural studies in Britain, independent researchers such as
Peter Willmott had applied the subculture theory in the British field work in the 1960s when he
researched into the range of cultural options available to the working-class boys in the East End
of London. Willmott found out that the idea of a classless youth culture was premature and
meaningless. He notes that the cultures of the working-class boys in London were based on the
social classes in their society. This began the discourse on class-based subculture in which many
scholars and subcultural theorist within the CCCS have been involved with. This includes Bethel
Creen who in similar fashion to Wilmort suggests that the fact that one in three working class
adolescent boys appear before the court before the age of 21 meant that ‘class’ is the basis of
delinquency among youths (Willmott, 1969; cited by Clarke & Jefferson, 1973).
A CCCS theorist, Phil Cohen (1972) suggests that youth subculture ought to be understood in
terms of their facilitating a collective response to the breakup of traditional working class
community. Cohen argues that the urban redevelopment programmes in the East End of London
during the 1950s, together with the relocation of families to ‘new towns’ with modern housing
estates, culminated in an irreparable rupturing of traditional working class ways of life. In other
words, the traditional working class families struggle to come to terms with the loss of former
working class communities and their various structures while trying to integrate into a new
environment and new pattern of existence (Cohen, 1972: 23, cited by Bennett, 2001: 19). Cohen
thus concludes that subcultures were an attempt on the part of working class youths to bridge the
gap between life on the new estates and the former patterns of traditional working-class life.
Hall and Jefferson (1976) whose book43 Resistance through Rituals remains the centerpiece of
CCCS’s work on post-war youth cultures produced a new theory of subcultural style. As against
the widely endorsed ‘embourgeoisement thesis44’, they argue that the class struggle which had
characterised the previous 150 years, had perpetually ended with the working class people
becoming more middle class in their outlook due to their increased wealth (Leys, 1983: 61).
Written in this book is Thomas Jefferson’s research on the 1953 Teddy boy45 style, where
Jefferson argue that,
the group life and intense loyalty of the Teds can be seen as a reaffirmation of
traditional slum working values and the ‘strong sense of territory’ as an attempt to
retain, if only imaginatively, a hold on the territory which was being expropriated
from them (Jefferson, 1976: 81).
Similarly, Clarke (1976: 81) argues that the subcultural style of the skinhead46 represents an
attempt to re-create through the “mob” the traditional working class community as a substitution
for the real decline of the latter. The class-based discourse within the subculture theory continues
with a somewhat different interpretation of the youth style proposed by Hebdige (1976a) study of
the mods.47 According to Hebdige, the mods’ fetishisation48 of expensive and highly desirable
Hall and Jefferson’s (1976) “Resistance through Rituals” is regarded as the centerpiece of CCCS’s work on postwar youth cultures (see Bennett, 2001: 18)
The embourgeoisement thesis argues that with the increasing affluence of the post-war period, British society
was becoming classless (see, for example Butler and Rose, 1960).
Teddy boys emerged in the 1950s as Britain was coming to the end of post-war austerity as the first face of
British youth culture. They were mostly working-class young boys and teenagers who first created their own
unique teenage style in Britain. They were very distinctive in their dressing and outfits
A skinhead is a member of a subculture consisting of working class youths in London. They were named and
identified by their closed-cropped or shaven heads (
Unlike the other youth subculture in post-war Britain, the Mods were working class youth subculture focused
fashion and music (modern jazz). Source: Wikipedia.
commodities (such as Italian sharp suits and designer sunglasses), symbolised an emphasis on
leisure time rather than physical territory, as a threatened space. Hebdige argues further that the
mods’ collective antidote to their workaday existence as office boys and unskilled labourers was
to take control of their night-time and weekend leisure through conspicuous all-night clubbing
and steady stream of speed pills.49
Also explored by Dick Hebdige (1979: 90), were the ways in which class-specific experience
was encoded in leisure styles (also based on the London's East End community). Hebdige
concludes that:
subcultures form communal and symbolic engagements with the larger system of
late industrial culture. They are organised around (but not wholly determined by),
age and class, and are expressed in the creation of styles. These styles are
produced within specific historical and cultural "conjunctures…they are not to be
read as simply resisting hegemony or as magical resolutions to social tensions - as
earlier theorists had supposed. Rather subcultures cobble together (or hybridize)
styles out of the images and material culture available to them in the effort to
construct identities which will confer on them "relative autonomy" within a social
order fractured by class, generational differences, work etc.
Similarly, Stanley Cohen (1980) whose research was primarily focused on the links between
youth and parent cultures interpreted the various youth styles as sectional adaptations to changes
which had disrupted the whole East End community. He thus defines subculture as a
compromise solution between two contradictory needs; the need to create and express autonomy
and difference from parents and the need to maintain the parental identifications (Cohen 1980).
Based on his (Cohen’s) analysis, styles such as the mod, ted and skinhead (which were popular
among British working class youths), were mere attempts to mediate between experience and
tradition which can be regarded as both familiar and novel. He therefore concludes that the latent
function of the subculture was to express and resolve the contradictions which remain hidden or
unresolved in the parent culture (Cohen 1980).
Fetishization is a form of obsession, in this case with expensive items of fashion clothing, in which the object is
held in esteem by the group because of the special meaning which it is collectively deemed to have (Bennett,
Speed pills are party drug and stimulants which keeps one awake and hyper-active for hours
It is important to note here that the subculture theory was also adapted broadly to include nondeviant expression of counter-discourses and cultural studies and practices. Hebdige is regarded
as the primary author of this (see, Hebdige, 1999). He brought a unique and supple blend of
Althusser, Gramsci and semiotics (as propounded the Prague School) to bear on the world, based
on the British working-class culture. He believes that subcultures may undergo the same
trajectory but possess individual differences and style changed the phase of subculture studies in
the 20th century (Hebdige, 1979).
In his later work, Hebdige admitted that due to the power of commercial or commodity culture,
subculture now appropriate and produce counter-hegemonic styles (see Hebdige, 1988; 1999).
For example, he described Punk50 as a unique mixture of an avant-garde cultural strategy,
marketing savvy and working-class transgression produced in the face of a section of British
youths’ restricted access to consumer markets. He underscores the line between subculture as
resistance and commercial culture as both providers of pleasures and an instrument of hegemony.
Hebdige’s perception may have been influenced by Mark Abrams (1959) who is credited as the
first scholar to identify the emergence of the ‘teenage consumer’ as a distinct sector of the
purchasing public. This suggests that there has long been a “resignation that market forces
inevitably deliver a commercialised and subculturally neutered version of youth culture” (Huq,
2007: 79). In a similar vein, Rutherford (1997:114) notes that “the global marketplace has
transformed youth cultures and their signs of revolt and rebellion into commodities, and aesthetic
of the ‘youth’”.
Scholars such as Andy Brown (2007) have however countered these arguments revealing that it
may be a mistake to assume that such movements are necessarily devoid of commercialism to
begin with. This seeming contradictions and need for authenticity in new culture has led to
subculture being placed at the center of academic struggle for superiority between rival
paradigmatic approaches employed in different theoretical explanations (Blackman, 2014).The
complications in its applicability to different subcultures in various fields of study made
Blackman (2014: 104) to conclude that “subculture is a chameleon theory which possesses an
ability to change its hue according to the sociological paradigm’’. Albert Bell (2010:153) also
Punk is a subculture which emerged as a bricolage of almost every previous youth culture that existed in the
West since the Second World War (see,
describes it as an analytical tool that remains ‘hotly contested’ in contemporary debates in
sociology and criminology.
Summarising the many argument embedded in the subculture theory, Chris Livesey51 concludes
that the subcultures may be divided into two main types, namely, the reactive or oppositional and
the independent. A reactive subculture is one in which members of a particular subcultural group
develop norms and values that are both a response to and opposition against the prevailing norms
and values that exist in the wider culture (Cohen, 1955).
Members of the independent subcultures on the other hand, are held to adopt a set of norms and
values which are effectively “self-contained” and specific to the group. Although these values
may differ from those of the wider culture within which the subculture exist, they may not
necessarily (or consciously) be in opposition to such values. The main proponent of this is
Walter Miler as illustrated in his 1962 article Lower Class Cultures as Generating Milieu of
Gang Delinquency.
In this study, subculture has been applied on a surface level in the same manner that Howard
Becker (1963) and Barron Clinard (1974) applied it. To these authors, ‘subcultures’ possess
distinctive shared values and cultural practices that are different from the mainstream. It is the
context of this study; the mainstream culture is the more dominant Khwe Bushman culture which
has been the norm in the community for several years. Thus, this study has contextualised the
concept of subculture to understand the youth culture (hip-hop culture) in terms of its
relationship to the dominant culture as well as its agency and constraint.
Taking cue with Hebdige (1979), the Khwe youth acculturation of hip-hop is understandably
necessitated by external factors which are beyond the control of the youths themselves, but a
byproduct of globalisation and media technologies which erodes their local community. Hebdige
(1999) adds that social relations is continually transformed into culture (and hence subculture)
can never be completely 'raw', rather they are always mediated and inflected by the historical
context in which it is encountered–posited upon a specific ideological field which gives it a
particular life and particular meanings.
This article which I find most useful, for some strange reason has no year of publication. It is found in
th, and accessed on 5 November, 2015.
Criticism of Subculture Theory
Although the subcultural approaches originating from Chicago and Birmingham offer invaluable
and sophisticated insight, many of which retain significance till date; many of these approaches
have been criticised on a number of grounds, some of which are discussed in this section. Mark
Tittley (2000) believes these criticisms may be categorised under the following,
That the only relevant variables in subculture equation are those of class and age,
neglecting factors such as gender and race or ethnicity
Guilty of romanticing groups by implying that ‘ordinary kids’ are too passive to warrant
That the CCCS position is fundamentally deterministic because it holds that subculture
member will behave in certain ways and hold certain values according to their economic
class (a position this study finds replicable in the Khwe community)
One of the most salient criticisms of the subcultural theory in terms of the first category stated
above, has been made by Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber (1976) who points out the failure
of the theory (particularly those from the CCCS) to include the account of ‘girls’ involvement in
subcultures. In their which study which identifies a strong teeny bopper culture among young
girls, they argue that while this teeny booper culture is an equally significant form of youth
culture just as the male dominated subcultures, it is less visible because of a stricter parental
control to which girls are subjected, such control forcing them to construct their teeny booper
culture around the territory available, the home and the bedroom. In her later work, McRobbie
(1980) attributes the failure of the CCCS to acknowledge this home-centered teeny booper
culture to the selective bias of the researchers themselves. The present research takes into
account this gender sensitivity.
The present study takes into account gender bias. Despite the fact that hip-hop is a male
dominated music culture in Khwe (as reflected in the Khwe community where just three females
are involved as against their over fifteen of their male counterparts), the study however explores
the activities of the Khwe female hip-hoppers
In terms of romanticising groups, Simon Frith (1983) for example, argue that one of the central
problems with the CCCS approach lies in the ‘romantic’ notions of resistance which it attaches
to subcultures. Frith believes the change of style by the working class youth does not necessarily
signify a moment of symbolic refusal. He believes most of the working class teenagers pass
through groups, change identities and play their leisure roles for fun. Since their membership in
groups and gangs is loose, she proposes that there is a need to reconcile adolescence and
subculture (Frith, 1983: 219).
Frith’s position is related to an earlier criticism by Gary Clarke’s (1981) who faults the CCCS
research for starting off and focusing on the most stylistically spectacular working-class youth,
rather than study the variety of responses of marginalised groups. Clarke believes the study of a
marginalised group at the time may somewhat contradict the CCS position and theory. While the
motivations, practices and social backgrounds of subcultural members were essentialised in the
CCS theory, the theory fails to account for non-subcultural youth and so-called ‘part-timers’ who
are often categorised as dupes of the culture industry (Clarke, 1981).
Meanwhile Bennett (1999a: 602) takes issue with CCCS’s idea of working class resistance as a
centrally defining aspect of post-war youth style. He argues that despite the possibilities for
visual creativity and experimentation with identity opened up by post-war youth fashions and
other commodities, working-class youth were somehow driven back to the fact of class as a way
of articulating their attachment to such commodities. He therefore suggests that rather than
accentuating issues of class divisions ‘post-war consumerism offered young people the
opportunity to break away from their traditional class-based identities [and adopt] new, selfconstructed forms of identity.’
Finally, Thornton (1995) makes a case that in focusing entirely upon conditions of class and
economic status as basis for both the origins and stylistic response of subcultures; the CCCS
overlook the other influences upon the collective self-image of youth, in particular the role
played by media representation. This is an important issue particularly as the media in the
present era has become a vital tool in the representation and construction of identity worldwide.
In spite of these many criticisms, the subculture theory, remain highly influential in the study of
contemporary youth music and style (Bennett, 2001).
Figure 3.1: The Khwe hip-hop subculture retain their identities and style even in school.
Source: Reuben Chinja (gift to author) 2014 ©.
Cultural Appropriation Theory
New subcultural jargons don’t just appear out of the unconscious without
prompting – they are mixed together out of borrowings from earlier youth
cultures, global cultures, the mass media and other sources. (Mizrach, 2006)
Different scholars have interpreted the cultural appropriation theory in diverse ways and from
different perspectives (Radway, 1984; Clifford et al., 1986; Price, 1989 Lutz, 1990; Sponsler,
2002). However, it is generally agreed that cultural appropriation is inescapable when cultures
come into contact (this includes virtual or representational contacts). The resulting effect of
cultural and psychological change that follows intercultural contact is known as ‘aculturation’
(Berry 2003).
Although cultural appropriation is mostly mentioned in critical analyses of media
representations, and commodifications of marginalised and/or colonised cultures, it is often used
without significant discussion or explicit theorising (Rogers, 2006). In other words, despite the
popular use of cultural appropriation in cultural, and critical media studies, the concept itself is
undertheorised in most studies or literatures and it is in fact, absent in the inter- cultural
communication literatures (e.g., Black, 2002; Buescher & Ono, 1996; Harold, 2004; Kadish,
2004; Ono & Buescher, 2001; Torgovnick, 1996; Whitt, 1995).
‘Appropriation’ is derived from the Latin appropriare, meaning ‘‘to make one’s own’’ from the
Latin root proprius meaning own, also the root of property. These meanings seem parallel to the
use of the term in a legal sense, which connotes an unfair or unauthorised taking (Rogers, 2006).
Helene Shugart (1997: 210–211), defines the concept thus:
any instance in which means commonly associated with and/or perceived as
belonging to another are used to further one’s own ends. Any instance in which a
group borrows or imitates the strategies of another, even when the tactic is not
intended to deconstruct or distort the other’s meanings and experiences, thus
would constitute appropriation.
Based on this somewhat technical definition of cultural appropriation, one could regard the
Khwe youth subculture adaptation of hip-hop (despite its usage as a means of representing and
voicing themselves) as an act of cultural appropriation. This is because hip-hop is primarily an
American music culture that became popularised among the African American youth elites
(Neal. 1990). In this sense, one could conclude that the Khwe youth appropriate hip-hop (an
intangible culture) and even technologies to further their own ends or for their own interest.
Similarly, Rogers (2006: 474) gives a broader definition of the concept of cultural appropriation
as the use of a culture’s symbols, artifacts, genres, rituals, or technologies by members of another
culture. It is worthy to note here that cultural appropriation is an active process in which a mere
exposure, for example, to the music or film of another culture does not constitute cultural
appropriation, it is the active ‘‘making one’s own’’ or use of such cultural material in various
ways, under a variety of conditions, and with varying functions and outcomes that constitute the
acts of appropriation (Rogers, 2006: 476).
It is after cultural appropriation has been established, one may then investigate the degree and
scope of individuals’ use of such culture, whether; it is symmetrical or asymmetrical, the power
relations and the domination and/or resistance of such cultural appropriation. It is also important
to consider the cultural boundaries involved as well as other factors that shape, and are shaped by
these acts of cultural appropriation (Rogers, 2006). It is at this point the theory of cultural
appropriation surfaces.
The Theoretical Frames of ‘Appropriation’
The cultural appropriation theory or concept has been deployed generally by many scholars
subjectively in relevance to their contexts and eras. This is why transculturation ultimately
questions the validity, not only in an era of postmodernity or globalisation but, also in historical
contexts (Rogers, 2006: 474). Similarly, Bruce Ziff and Rao Pratima (1997: 345) acknowledge
that the complexities of what constitutes the theory and the practice of cultural appropriation
arise from the facts that both ‘culture’ and ‘appropriation’ are notoriously difficult to define, and
that cultural appropriation occurs in and across many different modes. Thus, I will attempt to
examine both the explicit and implicit conceptualisations of cultural appropriation theory based
on the perspective of each scholar in order to reflect their underlying logics and assumptions
behind their explanation of the theory.
According to Hartmut Lutz (1990), the issue of contestation within appropriation theory is the
kind of appropriation which happens within a colonial structure; where one culture is dominant
politically and economically over the other, and rules and exploits it. Thus, Rogers (2006)
concludes that cultural appropriation is inescapably intertwined with cultural politics which
involves the assimilation and exploitation of marginalised and colonised cultures and in the
survival of subordinated cultures and their resistance to dominant cultures.
It is believed that this kind of appropriation is selective, disowns origin or authorship, and is
ahistorical in that it excludes from its discourse the historical context, especially the history of
the natives (Lutz, 1990). This kind of appropriation may be akin to brutal expropriation and
outright theft. For instance, it is argued that the history of European colonisation of Africa and
other continents may be regarded as a wholesale appropriation due to the kinds of actions which
took place in the past and continue in the present with respect to the cultural property of
colonised peoples within the power relations of European colonisation (Cuthbert, 1998). Thus,
(in the researcher’s opinion) this kind of appropriation is similar to the modernisation theory of
development whereby the dominant culture overrides the existing indigenous structures. In terms
of subcultures, it is believed that the more dominant ‘parent culture’ upon which subcultures are
drawn often threaten to dominate and often times in opposition to the subculture. Stuart et al
(1976: 11) reveals that groups which exist within the same society and who share some of the
same material and historical conditions are unequally ranked in relation to one another. Just as
‘class’, cultures are differently ranked, and stand in opposition to one another, in relations of
domination and subordination, along the scale of ‘cultural power’.
Meanwhile, to Claire Sponsler (2002), what is worth stressing in the appropriation theory is the
fact that the act of appropriation in itself is bricolage. It is motivated by the necessity of the
moment, as much as it works, makes sense and is homologous with larger structures and
concerns. In other words, bits and pieces of commodity culture are reassembled by subcultures to
make sense with their own concerns, activities, group structure, and collective self-image. These
assembled pieces must fit together in a meaningful way (Hebdige, 1979). This notion of
appropriation is wholly embodied in the work of Marx (1951: 225) who believes that “Men make
their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under
circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances encountered, given and
transmitted from the past.” This suggests that the culture of a group is usually formed under
certain conditions and is usually formed from ‘raw materials’ which cannot wholly be of its own
making (Hall and Jefferson, 1976).
The concept of appropriation theory as bricolage is reiterated by Hebdige (1979). He draws on
earlier work of Stuart Hall and Tony Jefferson (1976) to argue that culture is not monolithic, but
instead composed of competing, overlapping and sometimes conflicting smaller groups that
create their own patterns of life and define themselves through their distinctive institutions,
beliefs and customs, social relations, and uses of objects, thus developing symbolic systems that
give expressive form of their social and material life-experiences (Hebdige, 1979). In this regard,
subcultures are not forced to accept the meanings usually attached to those materials they use,
but instead they are free to improvise with the materials they acquire from the marketplace to
give new meanings and uses. Hence, in appropriation studies, what marks the subculture from
more orthodox cultural formations is the way in which commodities are used (Hebdige, 1979).
For instance “an ordinary domestic item such as the safety pin, coded by mainstream culture as
benign and protective item, becomes a dangerous and grotesque item used not to hold together
diapers or to pierce the flesh after subcultural appropriation (Sponsler, 2002).
Consequently, Claude Lévi-Straus (1966) revealed how appropriation theory was applied to
show how the magical systems of primitive peoples (myth, sorcery, superstition) was presented
to their users with coherent systems of connection between things by means of which people can
understand the world around them. To him, the reason these systems of connection worked is
because their parts can be played with: the basic elements of the system are flexible enough that
they can be used in a variety of improvised combinations to create new meanings (Lévi-Straus,
1966). This is another means of cultural appropriation.
Thus, Lévi-Strauss’ (1966) defines appropriation as the tinkering around of an amateur
handyman, or the art of making do with what’s at hand. He assumes that cultural agents
continually rearrange stocks of materials in new or different patterns and configures them to suit
their own purposes. Hence, the concept of appropriation of culture is the ingenious tinkering with
the material at hand, whether deliberately subversive or not, it often shares a common refusal to
be limited by whatever form or meaning the source material initially bears (Gilroy, 1987). The
concept of appropriation is used in this study to understand how the Khwe youth subculture takes
cues and pieces of hip-hop from the global media in producing hip-hop using their indigenous
languages. The study will then ascertain if this appropriation is imperialistic according to Lutz,
(1990) or an act of bricolage (Hebdige, 1979; Sponsler, 2002).
Many of the perspectives of scholars presented above are reflected in the CCCS chart of the
cycle of youth appropriation and industry incorporation presented in the figure below. Although
the cycle has been criticised, it adequately reflects the notion of appropriation theory as
presented by many contemporary scholars.
Fig 3.2 - (Adapted from: 65) CCCS Appropriation Cycle
Source: A. Brown, 2007
Because hip hop is currently the cultural form most widely appropriated in to new contexts
around the world today, many studies have focused its resources for local identity making,
cultural elements and adaptation in local contexts through the addition of traditional linguistic
and cultural elements52 (Savishinsky 1994). Although there are numerous studies on the
appropriation of hip-hop in different localities, many of these studies fail to reveal categories of
appropriation that occur (whether imperialistic or not). Nevertheless, it is a fact that
appropriation takes place whenever hip-hop (a US-motivated global cultural form) is
appropriated, copied and used by locals.
See Chapter two for discussion on adaptation of hip-hop in local contexts
A scholar, Vered Amit-Talai (1995) faults youth studies done within paradigms that are
quantitative rather than qualitative and ethnographic. To him, vital details will be lost when
qualitative data are coded into numbers. Hence, rather than the use of quantitative tools such as
acculturation scales used by many scholars to measure acculturation of a new culture (see Lim et
al., 2002), I have adopted an overt ethnographic research method for this study. This is in line
with the established traditions in the youth studies where ethnography is used to understand the
correlation between youths and their lifestyles.
The study is also conducted using the “reverse cultural studies” approach developed by Keyan
Tomaselli (2001). This approach emphasises details and voices from the field. The reverse
cultural studies approach negates the sanitised positivist perspectives favoured by many Western
scholars. It is an African approach regards details as important factor as the theory. The human
agency is described and recognised, and the voices from the field (the supposed subjects of
observation), are engaged by researchers as their equals an as producers of knowledge
(Tomaselli, 2001: 283). Thus, in this chapter, I incorporate a section tagged ‘affect from the
field’, which reflects on the ‘unconventional’ aspects of my encounter as a researcher in Khwe
Ethnography became famous as a method for youth study both at the University of Chicago and
in the CCCS where scholars attempt to explain the deviant activities such as drug taking, petty
crime and gang membership as well as the distinct class-based youth style of the Britain post-war
era (see Hodkinson and Deicke, 2007). Ethnography aims to understand people and their
behaviours (Smith, 2011). It also emphasizes the need to study the ideas, attitudes, motives and
behaviour from the point of view of the subjects in natural situations (Du Plooy, 2001).
Another scholar, David Coplan (2014), simply defines ethnography as the face-to-face inquiry
into a small group, category, or community’s daily way of life, values, practices, social
relationships, and sense of identity with the researched (the community) being aware of the
researcher’s presence and purpose.
In a bid to understand the Khwe hip-hop subculture and styles, a combined 23-day period
spanned across four different travels to the Khwe community in Platfontein, Northern Cape from
my present location at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. This enabled me to immerse
myself and to develop social relations with members of the community. This is contained in
Coplan’s (2014) argument that ethnographic inquiry should involve personal contact with the
subject community over a period of time, during which the researcher immerses him or herself in
the talk and activities prevalent in their social experience and action. Such an immersion is
known technically as ‘participant-observation53’. Also, Geertz (1988: 4-5) believes the ultimate
way in which anthropologist convince their readers of the seriousness of their work by
persuading them via the “being there” quality of the research.
While ethnography seem perfect for the present study on youth and in the investigation of a
group such as the Bushman (whose culture and myth is relatively undocumented and largely
embedded in oral tradition), the research method has come under intense scrutiny and criticism
over the years. George Marcus and Michael Fischer for instance argue that the method does not
adequately represent and richly describe a local cultural world in the larger impersonal systems
of political economy. To them, what makes it even more challenging is the cliché about
“continuity of change” which most researchers use to analyse their perception that the ‘outside
forces’ but which are in fact an integral part of the construction and constitution of the of the
‘inside’ cultural unit itself, and which must be registered at the most intimate level of cultural
processes (1986:77).
To avoid the pitfall highlighted above, I have structured my research in such a way that it reflects
the individual uniqueness and dynamism both the Khwe indigenous cultural heritage as well as
the ‘outside force’ of the global culture of hip-hop. This helps to provide useful generalisations
that can be ethnographically tested.
Similarly, Clifford Geertz raised the issue of objectivity which many anthropologists generally
struggle with. To him, vacillating between insensitivity and impressionism, often lead to
ethnocentrism (1988:10). Also Keyan Tomaselli adds that the immediacy of the interaction, the
depth of the intercultural encounters and the empathy which develops by being touched by the
Participant observation is one of the ethnographic methods used in this study and discussed subsequently
experience has a bearing on research outcomes (2005: 136). Hence, I have used self-reflexivity
in detail to relate my encounter with the Khwe people. This helps to reveal myself and cultural
background which is thought to affect the research outcomes (see Tomaselli, et al. 2008). The
concept of self-reflexivity is summed up below.
Representation is an issue that has attracted wide discussions among anthropologists and cultural
studies scholars (Burnet, 1991; Martinez, 1992; Tomaselli, 1996/2003). An accurate
representation is seen as not just the one in which the ‘other’ is simply contexualised, but one in
which the self is also contexualised (Martinez, 1992). Self-reflexivity is thus concerned with the
juxtaposition of the voices of both the author of the text as well as the subjects of the text
(MacDougnal, 1998). This reveals the subjective presence of the author to the reader. By
adopting self-reflexivity, the author no longer claims to be utterly truthful or objective; rather he
reveals his personality and perceptions of an image or the subjects (Burnett, 1991).
At the heart of self-reflexivity is the notion of ‘personal’ and personal assumption (Tomaselli,
1996). The importance of self-reflexivity in a text is that it reveals the author’s preconceived
thoughts and experiences in coming to terms with a sense of ‘otherness’ (Dyll-Myklebust,
forthcoming). For instance, it may build on an understanding of why the author chose to include
some peculiar images or explanations in their narratives. Considering the fact that texts cannot be
free from the manipulations and ideologies that are exploitative in nature, self-reflexivity offers a
balance through its inclusion of the ‘self’ in relation to the ‘other.’
As revealed in many parts of this study, I am a 24 years old Nigerian born to poor family who
later stepped up within to the level of a typical Nigerian middle class family. Based on my own
family’s previous experience, I could relate with poverty and the need for the Khwe youths to
belong as youths. Like, the Bushmen youths, I struggled in my first few years in the university
due to my poor background54. Even though my family’s economic woes have now improved
today, I could somewhat relate to the experiences of the young Khwe youths, being a youth
myself whose family has gone through situation similar to them.
This includes hawking on the street of the city of Ado – Ekiti, Nigeria as a 7 years old boy
‘Insider’ research
The present study may be considered an insider research. The concept of ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’
has increasingly become an important methodological discourse in youth music culture research,
that of the initial position of researchers vis-à-vis the groups of young people they study
(MacRae, 2007: 51). ‘Insider research’ within youth cultural studies, is the ethnographic process
of moving from being a ‘stranger’ among youth clubbers to becoming a familiar, well-informed
citizen (Schutz, 1976).
As explained later in this section, when I first encountered the Khwe people in August 2013, I
immediately became close friends with a number of the youths by virtue of my nationality as a
Nigerian. Hence, there was a shift from being an ‘outsider’ to becoming an ‘insider’. This
enabled me to have an insider perspective on the construction of identity of the Khwe youth hiphoppers. Furthermore, living in the community and staying together in the house of one of the
Khwe youth hip-hoppers for more than ten days has enabled me to understand the typical
lifestyle and views of the Khwe youth subculture from an insider perspective.
Rhoda MacRae (2007) stressed the need for researchers reveal their initial proximity to the
respondents as this helps in the attempt to understanding how young people construct their
identities as members of youth cultures. Whatever the extent of this initial proximity or distance
is, “critical reflexivity is vital for understanding and making explicit the full implication of one’s
position” (MacRae, 2007: 51). It is believed that the proximity and position (as outside or inside
researcher) of the researcher ultimately affect all aspects of the research process from gaining
access, to analyzing data and writing up data. In the course of this research my proximity and
relationship is often revealed through a self-reflexive style which resonates across the entire
study. Being an insider researcher also enabled me to gather my data in more natural setting.
Ethics and Anonymity
In line with the University of KwaZulu-Natal “Code of Conduct for Research, individuals who
participated in this study were issued and voluntarily signed an informed consent form. The form
which is attached as Appendix 5 contains agreement over the use of real names or pseudo names
as well as willingness to voluntarily participate in the research.
Triangulation is the use of several research methods to determine the reliability of one’s data
(Smith, 2011). The present study uses different methods of data collection in order to elicit
responses from its participants that are then used in understanding the emergence of hip-hop
subcultures in the Khwe community. Methodological triangulation was employed so as to
balance the strength and weaknesses of my research methods. Principally I relied on
participatory observation and as well as the so semi structured interviews. Other data collection
techniques such as focus group discussions and field note-taking were alongside. The various
data collection methods are discussed in the next section.
Participatory Observation
Participatory observation also known as ‘participant’ observation emerged in the 1920s as a
scientific approach to subculture study when a group of sociologists and criminologists in
Chicago began collecting evidence on juvenile street gangs and deviant groups (professional
criminals, bootleggers etc. Although since then, the method has produced interesting and
evocative accounts of subculture, it has nevertheless been criticised for the absence of analytical
or explanatory framework which predominantly reflects positivist tradition of mainstream
sociology. Hebdige (1999) argues that although accounts based upon a participant observation
approach provide a wealth of descriptive detail, the significance of class and power relations is
consistently neglected or at least underestimated (Hebdige, 1999).
Hebdige further reveal that in many participatory observations within subcultural frames, the
subculture tends to be presented as an independent organism functioning outside the larger
social, political and economic contexts. And as a result, the picture of subculture is often
incomplete. Hence in spite of the qualities of the prose, all the authenticity and close detail which
participant observation made possible, it soon became apparent that the method needed to be
supplemented by other more analytical procedures (Hebdige, 1999: 442).
Retreating Hebdige’s sentiments on power relations in the field, Bessette (2004: 23) states that
the researcher comes from a different social context to that of the subject community, one would
consider the fact that he or she would bring with them a certain sense of ‘baggage’ in the form of
perceptions and interests internal to their understanding of the world. This is often vastly
different to that of the individuals within the community as both parties come from different
social and cultural ‘backgrounds’ altogether. In light of this difference, the researcher engaging
in participatory research must develop an understanding of the community with which they are
working on a personal level, not just on a surface-based level. In other words, the researcher
must “first learn to establish dialogue with a community”, and should be able to bring people to
express their points of view and listen to others, and to build a consensus around a course of
As previously stated, self-reflexivity was useful in negotiating the power relations between the
researcher and the researched. As a 24 year old city-dwelling male youth from Nigeria (Western
Africa), I understood the influence of my cultural and social milieu may affect or becloud my
research and judgment in my research of the indigenous youth. Hence, detaching from ones
initial belief system helps to understand the view of the world from the native’s perspective (see
Geertz, 1988). I participated in many of the activities of the youth in the community; this
includes playing of soccer, watching films and contributing in many of the rap sections.
However, I observed whenever extreme activities such as drug taking and street fights took
place, this helps to objectively view the events in the community.
Field Notes
Field notes, particularly those made in August 2013, when I first encountered the Bushmen as an
Honours student served as a reliable data source in capturing my own initial impression on
encountering the Khwe Bushmen. These field notes will be submitted along with other data
collected for the study.
Purposive Snowball Sampling
Purposive snowball sampling was used for this study. This method is widely used in research
into either very closed or informal social groupings, where the social knowledge and persona
recommendations of the initial contacts are invaluable in opening up and mapping tight social
networks” (Deacon et al, 1999: 55). This sampling technique was useful in Platfontein,
especially to identify all the youths that are involved any aspect of hip-hop.
There are no official figures of the total population of the Khwe Bushmen of Platfontein.
However, Robbins (2004) revealed that in 1990, a total of 3,720 Bushmen landed in South Africa
with the !Xun being the majority of the two. Andrew Dicks (2011) believes this figure had risen
to about 4 600 in 2010, with the !Xun still the majority of the two groups at roughly 3 500, and 1
100 Khwe inhabitants. From my visit in 2014, I can estimate the population to of the Khwe to be
around 3 000 persons, although many of the opinion leaders claim the community seemed to
have exceeded the 6000 mark.
Of this population, the present study, however, focused on the Khwe youths involved in hip-hop
and who are between the ages 18 and 24. Eighteen became the minimum after I realised the age
range of the Khwe hip-hoppers. While the ages of the adults (the older generation) who directly
participated in the study ranges from 45-70. The adults were individuals who lived most of their
active lives in Namibia. While the youths were those who grew up and have spent most of their
lives in South Africa. For instance, my host in Platfontein, a member of the first rap group in the
township was born on 7th March 1990, exactly the same day the Bushmen were flown into South
Africa. Hence, part of his social identity is presumably constructed from the larger South African
youth culture. The differences in growing up of both groups helped to understand the stark
differences in the environment both grew up.
After I had identified many group members of the DRAP JJ star55 music group in 2013, I
employed snowball sampling techniques to specifically locate other individuals in the
community involved in hip-hop. Although I observed virtually all individuals in the relatively
The DRAP JJ star is the hip-hop music group in Platfontein. I met many members of the group in August, 2013
when they came as participants to the grassroots comics and body mapping workshop organised by CCMS. I was
an Honours student at this time.
small Khwe community, I interviewed and engaged certain adults and opinion leader who could
provide relevant information on my area of research. Many of the adults were selected at random
with many of the being ex-soldiers who served in the defunct Bushman battalion.
In total, 34 respondents (both old and young) from the Khwe community participated directly56
in the study. Of this number, 18 hip-hoppers and youths57 participated in the study. Fifteen of
these young hip-hoppers were males and just three females58. Sixteen adults were interviewed at
random. The adult respondents who were selected at random59 were mostly respected opinion
leaders in the community, such as ex-soldiers and retirees, teachers, SABC staff members,
Pastors and traditional elders.
We interview people to find out from them those things we cannot directly
observe...we cannot observe feelings, thoughts, and intentions. We cannot observe
situations that preclude the presence of an observer. We cannot observe how
people have organized the world and the meanings they attach to what goes on in
the world (Patton, 2002: 341)
Interview refers to the process in which a researcher and the participants engage in conversation
focused on questions related to a research study. However, this process of interviewing is
significantly more complex than this simple explanation can provide (DeMarrais, 2004: 55).
One-on-one interviews were used in this study rather than the group interviews and rather than
the formal dedicated interviews, the semi-structured and unstructured were more useful in the
study. Due to the informal setting and the nature of my research which investigates lifestyles of
subcultures, semi-structured and unstructured interview became imperative. The interviews were
The entire Khwe population were observed to understand the general perception of hip-hop in the community,
However some older people aside the hip-hoppers were interviewed to specifically get some views and
It should be noted here that not all Khwe youths are involved in hip-hop, however the collectives style of the
hip-hoppers are shared by majority if not all the youths in the Khwe community.
The shortage of female membership in Khwe hip-hop scene is developed in the next chapter.
I interviewed many of the adults who showed interest in my study when encountered around the community.
conducted in individual homes, office or farm to ease the tensions and breakdown formalities.
All the Khwe hip-hoppers identified were interviewed. The aim of the interview was to know the
individuals perspective and view of the hip-hop culture particularly within the community.
The unstructured nature of the interview enabled interviewees to divulge information which,
though, a times were outside the context of the study, helped to understand the construction of
identity of the present Khwe Bushmen in general. Hence, Anssi Peräkylä et al. (2013: 277)
conclude that “interviews are invaluable in that they allow researchers access to areas of reality
that would otherwise remain inaccessible, such as people’s subjective experiences and attitudes.”
All participants who participated in the study were interviewed (34).
Language Barrier
Due to a language barrier I enlisted the services of an interpreter who offered this service to me
at no cost. My interpreter, Andre Nthoho a member of the most popular hip-hop group in
Platfontein seems efficient in translating from Khwedam to English language during the process
of data collection He was also helpful in interpreting many of the past hip-hop rap songs which
were mostly sung in Khwedam. However, there are arguments and contestations that the
presence of an interpreter may influence the outcome of research. For instance, Edwards (1998)
argues that the presence of the translator adds another dimension to the process of data
collection. This is because the life history of the translator can affect the interpretation process
resulting in translator bias. To overcome this tendency, Andrew Dicks and Shanade Barnabas
who are both experienced in conducting research in Khwe and who speak Afrikaans help to
sometimes verify in the data collected.
Focus Groups
Focus groups are a critical part of ethnographic studies. They are often used for the benefit of
observing the participant interaction with one another (Smith, 2011). The focus group discussion
was a useful tool in the present study, which focuses on the subculture interact and make sense of
the world around them. In the present study, two focus group discussions were conducted. The
first was conducted among six youths involved in hip-hop, while the second was conducted with
four adults who may be considered “the older generation”. The questions asked in the
discussions were generally aimed at understanding their view of hip-hop and the world in his
entirety. With the older people, many of the questions were about the difference between the
‘then’ and ‘now’ of the lives as well as their view of the future ahead. This helped me to unearth
those old cultures and styles that are being lost to post-modernity. The questions asked during the
youth’s discussion were aimed at understanding why the youths prefer hip-hop to their local
music culture. The youths and adults expressed their dreams, hope and fears during these
Previous Khwe Rap Recordings
The hip-hoppers past rap music served as a valuable data source for this study. Many rap music
has been produced in Khwe since 2009 when the local radio station opened their recording studio
for the hip-hoppers. For instance, the DRAP, JJ Star has produced more than two albums
containing as much as 15 tracks in each album. Since the construction of a makeshift studio,
many of the youths just walks into it and make music whenever they are inspired. The
interpretation and analysis of the lyrics of these songs were useful in terms of understanding
what the Khwe hip-hoppers use of music. It also helped to understand the extent to which they
appropriate expletives in their music formats.
Thematic Analysis
Thematic analysis was used to make sense of the data from both the interviews and the focus
groups. Thematic analysis is a form of recognising patterns with data so that identified themes
become categories for analysis (Fereday & Muir-Cochrane, 2006: 4). A theme is a pattern found
in information that at the minimum describes and organises possible observations or at the
maximum interprets aspects of the phenomenon (Boyatzis, 1998). Thematic moves beyond
counting explicit words or phrases to identifying and describing both implicit and explicit ideas
within the data, using the recurring themes (Guest et al. 2012). In other words, in thematic
analysis, the researcher is expected to construct categories or themes that capture some recurring
pattern that emanates from the data obtained from interviews, focus groups, observation etc.
(Merriam, 2009).
Consequently, the themes obtained are presented in categories and narrative form in relation with
my observed experiences, the working theories and the research questions of the study. For
instance on the factors that influence hip-hop in Khwe community, Major categorisations media
(Internet, television, radio, print) and interpersonal contacts are some of the categories presented.
These categories are expected to be given themes under each to make analysis easy. Thematic
analysis has been selected as the analytical tool due to the nature of this research. In other words,
because many data were collected via observation, interviews and focus group, the thematic
analysis helps to codify this data based a themed pattern
The data obtained from interviews, which will consist of direct quotes from people about their
experiences and opinions while the observations are presented in reflexive forms discussed
earlier in this chapter. The respondents in this study are regarded as co-producers of knowledge.
“Knowledge sharing on a co-equal basis will mobilize the large knowledge resources in rural
areas that has remained underutilized… then, could serve as a countervailing power to the
presumed superiority of outsider knowledge” (Melkote & Steeves, 2001:345).
Graham Murdock Symmetrical Analysis of subcultures
Subcultures must first be related to the ‘parent culture’ of which they are sub-set…
then they must also be analysed in terms of their relation to the dominant culture –
the overall disposition of cultural power in the society as a whole. (Hall and
Jefferson, 1976: 13)
In the height of youth research in the post-war British era, Graham Murdock canvassed that
subculture be studied in what he tagged ‘symmetrical’ approach (see, Murdock, 1973), such that
it reveals first their distinct relationship or similarity with their parent culture60, then their larger
societal culture. Although subcultures are expected to exhibit enough distinctive shape and
structure that makes them identifiably different from their ‘parent’ culture, nevertheless, as subsets, it is believed that there are significant things which bind and articulate them with the
The parent culture referred to here, does not necessarily mean the culture of their biological parents, but rather
the culture of their immediate family, clan and neighborhood
‘parent’ culture (Hall and Jefferson, 1976: 14). The idea is to mark out the differentiating and the
binding axis of the subcultures.
For instance the famous ‘Kray twins’ study conducted in the early 1970s revealed that, although
the twins both belonged to highly differentiated ‘criminal subculture’ in East London, the study
also showed they had ‘normal life’ and the culture of the East End working class (despite the fact
that the criminal subculture clearly forms an identifiable fact). Thus, the behaviour of the Krays
in terms of the criminal fraternity marks the differentiating axis of the subculture while the
relation of the Krays to their mother, family, home and local pub is the binding and articulating
axis (Pearson, 1973; Hebdige, 1974; cited Hall and Jefferson, 1976: 14).
Hall and Jefferson (1976) therefore conclude that subcultures possess no distinct ‘world’ of their
own, but they are loosely defined strands within the parent culture. This explains why most
subcultures are drawn out of a middle or working class ‘parent culture.’ The hip-hop subculture
in Khwe community were analysed using Graham Murdock Symmetrical Analysis or model.
This entails investigating the parent culture of individual hip-hopper to ascertain those strands
that are shared between the hip-hoppers and their parents.
Affects From the Field
A total of four field trips were made to Platfontein from August, 2013 to October 2014. My first
trip to Platfontein in 201461 was in May. A two-day visit; the aim of the trip was to intimate the
youths about my research and the possibility of residing in the community for an extended period
of time. This set the platform for my field work which began in the second week of June and
spanned for more than two weeks. The third visit was in October, 2014. This trip was used as a
follow up to some of my observations and to understand the community in a summer season.62
I initially began my fieldwork in June visiting Platfontein daily while residing in the city of
Kimberley. However, due to transport problems, I was however compelled by my research
facilitator Andre Nthoho (a member of the Khwe community and a hip-hopper), to make a plan
Prior to my first visit in 2014, I had only previously been to Platfontein in 2013 as an Honours student. However, I
maintained contacts with many of the hip-hoppers prior to my first visit in 2014.
My main field trip in June was made during the winter season.
to temporarily reside in the community. Due to unavailability of public transport to and from the
city of Kimberley, I had jumped a few times on back of unknown trucks to navigate to my way
to the township. Hence, I heeded my research assistant’s suggestion and stayed in the township
throughout the duration of my research.
This turned out to be challenging yet exciting, as it helped me to gather rich and adequate data,
particularly about the nightlife in the Khwe community. For instance, there are no bathrooms or
showers, and the tiny cubicle pit lavatories provided for the people (which I used) is mostly in
terrible conditions due to lack of excavations by the local municipality. As days turned into
weeks I learned to adjust to these unfamiliar conditions even though I continue to recover from
the health implications of this.
Nollywood Factor
When I was introduced to my would-be research participants in August 2013, I was as amazed as
my colleagues at the fascination and excitement on the faces of the Khwe Bushmen on
encountering me – a Nigerian. Apparently, I was to be the first Nigerian they had encountered
outside their television sets. Before encountering mediatised forms of Nigerian culture in
Nollywood films, the Khwe had only ever been exposed to the Afrikaans (the language of the
SADF) outside their own indigenous culture. Hence, as soon as they started watching Nollywood
films, the Nigerian culture became popular in the community.
After our meeting in 2013, I wrote the following field note in sheer amazement:
The people here love Nollywood. They mimicked the Nigerian film actors and actresses
around me. They were very excited to finally meet a Nigerian in real life (outside their TV
sets). I am amazed by the power of television and films, who will believe Nigerian culture
and tradition is being beamed to and cherished by a local Bushman community thousands
of mile away from where they were made.
Indeed Nollywood had become less Nollywood and more “African cinema” (Haynes & Okome,
1998). Many of the young people have learned to talk in the Nigerian accent while according to
some sources; it is through these films the elderly Khwe people learn simple English language.
This is simply done by relating the words spoken in the films to the actions acted. This reiterates
the fact that television helps to bypass the language barriers (McQuail, 2010).
The Khwe history of multiple migrations in the years after the border war in the 1970s was
thought to contribute to the Khwe’s limited social relationship with the outside world. An
opinion leader in the community believes the popularity of the Nigerian culture is down to the
fact that many of the people could relate directly to the narratives in the Nigerian films (Moshe
Mahundu Interview June 2014). Indeed, parts of their age-long culture (particularly spirituality)
are represented in many of these films. The village settings portrayed in many of the Nollywood
films encapsulates the life they had lived for thousands of years in the Kalahari before a gradual
encounter of modernity.
According to different sources in the Khwe community, Nigerian films found its way to the
Platfontein around 2005 when some individuals who travelled to Cape Town for a cultural
tourism programme, came back to the community with CDs of Nollywood films. People
gathered in the few houses with television and CD players to watch these films. In the course of
my fieldwork in June, I encountered a seller63 of the films who declined an interview but, agreed
to the popularity of the films within the community.
Just as the news went viral that “the Nigerian” would live in the community for days, many came
to visit me upon my arrival. They all tried to relate their experiences of Nollywood to me, using
the mannerism of ‘oo’ used at the end of words for emphasis in the Nigerian language structure.
Although as a Nigerian, I am well aware of my country’s reputation as the Africa’s entertainment
colossus,64 I never imagined Nollywood and the Nigerian culture would travel to an indigenous
rural community in some suburb of the Northern Cape.
As a researcher, I simultaneously became the researched and, as a supposed observer I became
the observed. I was interviewed and literaly made to interpret so many clichés used in the
Nigerian films. Words such as Chineke (Meaning God), eewoo (an exclamation) and so many
Igbo65 words used in most Nollywood films, I could not even relate to, as a non-Igbo speaking
This individual, who comes from the city of Kimberley, only comes to sell these films on the days the social
grants are paid (see figure 17).
Nigerian entertainment sector is regarded as the most dominant in Africa (see,
The Igbo are an ethnic group of southern Nigeria. Ironically I hail from the western part.
Nigerian. They expected me to exhibit the traits of every character they have ever watched in the
Nollywood films. This was extremely difficult for me, especially considering the fact that the
plot in most Nollywood films is based on the Igbo ethnicity.
I was also amazed by some Khwe youths who skipped school and stayed home watching
Nigerian films all day. They laughed at different scenes in the film even though they didn’t
understand many of the words spoken. Nollywood has also influenced the dressing of some
Khwe people. According to a respondent “Nollywood is affecting my style and dressing now.
And even my wife is dresses like them; I just appreciate the dresses worn in the Nollywood
films” (Moshe Mahundu Interview June 2014).
Hence, my country’s reputation among the Khwe Bushmen no doubt affects my research in some
way. I was given preferential treatment, allowed freely in homes and I conducted my research in
the community without any hitch, except for the overwhelming attention and love shown to me
by the locals. I was often introduced to my prospective respondent research participant as a
Nigerian – and as soon as the people know this, become quickly become and open to me.
Figure 4.1: An unknown person selling cheap (pirated) Nollywood DVDs in Platfontein
Source: Itunu Bodunrin 2014 ©
Attention from Female Fans
My being a Nigerian seems to have caused a special allure among Khwe young girls as it gave
me a massive attention from the young female folks. I was told by some of the Khwe hiphoppers that I must choose a girlfriend in allegiance to them and the community. It is believed
that having a girlfriend will ensure my return to the community. Hence, many would-be
girlfriends were introduced to me. Many of the girls were excited at the prospect of visiting
Nigeria, ‘the beautiful city’ portrayed in the Nigerian films they had been watching.
I was later to hear that there were rifts among some girls over who was going to become my
girlfriend. Hence, some tried to sneak into my room at night. There were bangs on my door at
midnights and forceful entrance into my room, with a lady saying she must spend the night with
me in the room. She says she wants to have a baby for me, and that it was impossible for me to
sleep alone on a cold night. In my subsequent visit in October, I tried to interview the girls but
they declined apparently disappointed with my explanation that I will rather have them as friends
than girlfriends.
In line with the research tradition in youth subculture studies, the present study employs all
research methods discussed in this chapter to investigate the activities and lifestyles of the Khwe
hip-hop subculture. The methods allowed me to incorporate my own observations and
experiences of the research process. As an insider research, I was able to generally understand
how the Khwe people view the world in general and had an insider view of how the Khwe youth
construct their identity.
CHAPTER 5: Data Presentation and Analysis
The data and results presented in this chapter were obtained from my four field trips to
Platfontein between August 2013 and October 2014. Although all participants were interviewed,
I relied on my own observations while investigating some sensitive and critical issues such as the
emerging class disparities, which I presume to be discomforting to my respondents or subjects.
While thematic analysis is used to make sense of the data as a whole, the presentation of the data
was structured using Graham Murdock’s (1973) Symmetrical model (as described in the
previous chapter). The thematic analysis coins out the recurring themes and pattern from the
data, while the Graham Murdock Symmetrical Analysis which emphasizes the need for
subcultures to be viewed as sub-sets of dominant larger groups, was used to analyse subculture
characteristics and lifestyles in terms of their relation to the wider cultural networks from which
they form a distinctive part. The first of these networks is termed the ‘parent’66 culture, then the
larger dominant culture. It is believed that by first analyzing subcultures in this order, the
similarities or sharp differences between the two cultures which are rooted in the same history
are visibly identified (Hall and Jefferson, 1976).
Therefore, though the focal concern of this study is the peculiar characteristics and lifestyles and
activities of the Khwe hip-hop subculture, they were nevertheless analysed in relation to their
family as well as the larger Khwe culture. In other words, the Murdock model was applied to the
background by constantly relating the Khwe hip-hopper’s lifestyle, (both individually and
collectively) to the dominant Khwe culture. The study also takes into account the importance of
presenting the analysis in tandem with the method, the theory and the questions posed in a sensible
manner (cf. Merriam, 2009).
The chapter is divided into three main sections; the first discusses issues pertaining to the general
Khwe culture. These include the general lifestyles, traits, the emerging class structures and many
values shared by the entire community as a whole. My aim here is to foreground the general
Khwe culture and issues in the present era, from which the Khwe hip-hop subculture emerged.
This should not be confused with the particular relationship between ‘youth’ and their ‘parent’ which is also
constantly revealed in the course of the study
The second part specifically focuses on the distinct lifestyles, activities and issues pertaining to
the Khwe hip-hop subculture. It begins with the narrative of the styles peculiar to the Khwe hiphoppers before going to discuss the perceptions, the various uses, as well as the factors that
contribute to hip-hop appropriation in the Khwe community. The last part revisits the class-based
debate that has characterised most subculture studies since the post-war British era. I argue that
due to a similarity between the Khwe present situation and the post-war British era, the notion of
class and economic status may in fact be adequately applied as the basis for subcultural
formation and youth delinquency.
Section One
History of Dependency
As earlier discussed in chapter one, the many years of the Border War (1966-1989) adversely
affected the socio-political and cultural environments of the Khwe Bushmen. In other words, the
South African government's direct political involvement in the affairs of this group in the 1970s
created a complete economic dependence on the South African military (Robbins, 2004; Dicks,
2011). This reliance ultimately led to the Khwe own acculturation into the modern world, as
cultural activities such as hunting and gathering, folklore and other traditional practices gradually
gave way for modern practices encountered in the military (Dicks, 2011; Grant & Dicks, 2014).
This dependence is still very visible amongst the Khwe today where majority are totally
dependent on pension and government social grants. Moshe Mahundu believes the dependency
in the community in recent times is worse than ever due to the unemployment situation in the
community. This explains why on the day of payment the entire community beams with
excitement (interview, October, 2014). The bizarre atmosphere of this day is discussed below.
The Payment Day Buzz67
The 21st of every month is the payment day in Platfontein, the day the social grants and pensions
are paid. These benefits are paid in cash, from the booth of a van parked in an open space behind
the community police station.
On this day the entire Platfontein township often suddenly springs to life that even the children
feel the buzz of this day. Babies giggle and laugh more often than normal, little children are seen
running around the dusty neighborhood till nightfall; the older men move from the payment
booth straight to the liquor store to drink to stupor, while the women take their time to buy
varieties of commodities on sale and pay their accrued debts in the grocery stores68. Sellers of all
kinds of goods (ranging from electronics to foodstuff and clothing) all come to Platfontein
(mostly from Kimberley) to sell their wares on the street just a few metres away from the
payment booth; ready to get back every cent paid to the Bushmen.
Many of the teenage and young mothers who get paid for their child’s welfare often quickly
exhaust the monies on clothing, wigs, jewelry etc. An incident occurred in the evening of this
day in June, when an older woman visibly infuriated by her daughter’s wasteful spending of her
grandchild’s social grant’s pay screamed and created a scene. I was told this incident is typical of
this day, a proof that the older generation are somewhat at loggerheads with the young people’s
choice, taste and lifestyle.
The person that makes most gain on the payment day is the liquor store owner. Upon collecting
their money, many of the males who for weeks had been consuming the cheap traditional
‘tombo69’ beer, head straight to the liquor store to purchase numerous bottles of large-sized Black
Label beer which they consume until they can barely move away from a spot.
Ferdie Weich, a missionary who worked with the Bushmen for many years, believes this culture
of instant and excess consumption without leftovers, may be traced to the original culture of the
San people when they are expected to consume every animal they kill because they believed the
only safe place for the meat was their stomach. They would eat so much until they couldn’t
I witnessed two payment days while in Platfontein
Before this day, many grocery store-owners (who know individuals under the social grant scheme) allow the
social grant beneficiaries to buy goods on credit against the payment day.
Tombo is a locally made alcoholic beer sold for R1. It is consumed by many of the Bushmen days before their
social grant payment
move, he said. In the same vein, a modern Bushman who is given money and who patronises a
well-stocked bottle store has the tendency to drink excessively (quoted in Robbins, 2004). This
phenomenon of substance and alcohol abuse pervades virtually every Bushman community in
Southern Africa today; including the ≠Khomani people of the Kalahari Desert (see, Barnabas,
2008; Grant, 2011; Robbins 2004; Tomaselli 2005; Grant & Dicks, 2014).
Meanwhile, Katharina Meyer, who visited the Khwe and !Xun in Shmidtsdrift in 1993 believes
that alcohol and substance were used as a form of self-flagellation due to the military withdrawal
from the Bushman camp base in Schmidtsdrift in the early 1990s (quoted in Robbins, 2004).
Hence, in Platfontein today where unemployment is the major problem, excessive consumption
of alcohol may be linked to this. In the absence of employment and due to a perceived neglect of
the provincial government, the majority of the Khwe Bushmen whose only source of revenue is
the government social grant, use alcohol to relieve themselves of frustration and anxiety. The
fact that there are no banks in the township also contributes to this ‘receiving and spending’
Figure 5.1: Platfontein springs to life on ‘payment days,’ with traders from outside the township selling all kinds of
commodities in exchange for the Bushman’s pay.
Source: Itunu Bodunrin 2014 ©
Revisiting the Unemployment Issue in Platfontein
As revealed in several studies on Platfontein, unemployment is the major problem of the Khwe
people and Platfontein in general. Many factors have been attributed to this (see Robbins 2004;
Barnabas, 2008; Grant & Dicks, 2014). Although inaccessible road and transport to and from the
city of Kimberley as well as the lack of modern skills has been described as the most salient
reasons, some individuals in the community beg to differ. According to some sources, the issue
of unemployment has gotten worse due to lack of information in the community. Moshe says
“the issue of unemployment in my opinion is ‘information about employment opportunities”
(Interview, October, 2014). This makes sense, particularly now that more and more young
people are having access to the internet but not information relevant to employment. The internet
in every sense helps to bypass the transportation barrier which blights the community.
The only jobs (though few) available to many in the community are security jobs which seem
very stressful and less financial rewarding. The youths are very frustrated with the job situation
and many have already dropped out of school. “Everyone just wanders around, doing nothing in
particular. I am fed up of this life” laments Andre Nthoho70 who dreams of opening the first
barber shop in the Khwe side of the township. The unemployment issue has made many schoolgoing youth to drop out after they realised the bleak significance of the academic pursuit
(Interview, June 2014).
Cultural tourism which offers opportunities due to Bushmen antecedents and history as primitive
Bushmen has backfired in recent time. The fact that the community is rural, yet modern in many
ways does not help the sector that has been described as ‘human zoo’ or ‘human glass-case
exhibition’ (see Tomaselli, 2012; Mboti, 2014). There are no cultural products on display in the
township; this perhaps limits the tourism potential of the community. The only tourist attraction
in the community is the musical performances and dance which are mostly performed by the
older Khwe women. This is a signifier that the business of tourism, if pursued may be
unsustainable in a long-term.
Andre himself is a 23 years old high school dropout.
The Bushmen are generally known for their folklore which have been told for generations via the
oral tradition oftentimes in the form of moonlight tales or night stories (see Bleek & Lloyd,
1911). Although record shows the Khwe people retained the tradition in their early years in
South Africa in the early 1990s (Robbins, 2004), many of these traditions and practices have
since have vanished with more and more access to modern media technologies.
According to sources, these age-long traditions died due to the modern setting of the Platfontein
township. The burning fire in which elders and children often sat around before bedtime at night,
served as some sort of electricity before bedtime. However, nowadays with long poles of electric
street lights, many don’t see the need to sit around the fire. They will rather just stay in front of
their houses when the heat is much or better still watch television with the children at night.
Nowadays, when people gather around fire at night (in the winter period), they do so to get
warmth from the heat of the fire in a typical extreme cold Northern Cape night; not to tell or
listen to stories. During this time, adults, youths and children make their fires separately and try
to keep the fire burning till around midnight when most people go to sleep. Unlike the older
people who learnt many of the Khwe history and culture during these night story sessions, the
younger people are perceived to be too enlightened (due to their exposure to modern
technologies) and thus are uninterested in culture or night stories. To this end, Mr. Niclas Tenda
laments thus, “when we were youths, we stayed around the fire at night listening to tales from
elders, guidance and instruction. However, in 2014, youths control their own destiny; no elder
can give direct instruction to the kids again”. When I returned to Platfontein in October, during
the summer periods, there were no gatherings around fire at all.
Figure 5.2: In the winter season; kids, youths and adult make their fires separately and work together to keep it
burning for most of the night.
Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©.
A Spiritual People
The Khwe people today are still very much spiritual; many are Christians while very few still
subscribe to the traditional ancestral worship. Mrs. Nthoho opines that “as a human being you
must believe in something because of wicked people”. One of the youth pointed out to a
mentally deranged man, who many believed to have been cursed by ‘wicked people’.
Hence, to avoid such fate, the Khwe throng to church on Sundays to sing, dance and be inspired
by their church leaders. As a Christian myself, on one of the Sundays in October, I attended all
the five churches in the community to ascertain if there were any unique feature in the Khwe
mode of worship. However, I realised the church services are conducted in relatively same
manner and with similar theme; hope. “In an era of uncertainty, we ought to turn to God” said a
preacher. In a particular church, the pastor talked about giving money and contributing money
and goods to their families in Namibia who are in worse condition than them.
When Khwe people migrated to South Africa in 1990, about half of their total population, then
stayed back in Namibia, with a promise by the newly independent Namibian government, to look
after their welfare. However, unlike the generous South African government with social welfare
package, the remaining Khwe who stayed back seem to be poorer and more primitive when
compared to the ones in Platfontein today (Andre Nthoho, Interview, June 14, 2014)
The Khwe Traditional Music
The Khwe Bushmen of today still have among them traditional musician who are knowledgeable
in the use of traditional music instrument such as the dingo. The dingo is the instrument that
produces the traditional tune generally associated with the Bushman; appropriated in many films
and advertisements. The dingo is a simple but a difficult instrument to learn and play. For
instance Mr. Mkweja Mbuga laments that his thumbs had gone pale and hard over the years
because of the instrument (Interview, June 2014).
This perhaps explains why the two dingo players and local musicians are old, and yet have no
one of the younger generation who could take over the playing of the instrument. In separate
interviews, the two men reveal that, in addition to the fact that dingo seem extremely difficult to
play and learn, many of the young people do not show any interest in learning it. According to
Mr Shinjoja Kazumba (the other dingo player), “the difficulty in teaching and learning is the
reason why no other person has learned to play it over the years. Even me it took me months and
years to learn it from my brother, he said (Interview, June 2013).
Ironically, both Mr. Kazumba and Mr. Mbangu’s children, James and Ben are into hip-hop and
have learned to use musical software to make beats for their hip-hop music. This again shows an
intersection between the global and the local. The global seem to be sweeping the local away fast
and quick. A young Khwe youth will rather learn how to use music software on computers,
rather learn to play dingo for months or years. This again reiterates the fear in the community
that many of the cultures and practices are fast going into extinction.
Figure 5.3: Mr. Kazumba, a traditional musician holding a dingo in front of his home in Platfontein
Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©.
The Emerging Social Class
Social class is defined in terms of groups who hold ‘similar share in a market economy and by
virtue of the fact they receive similar economic rewards’ (Haralambos 1985:44). Those who
share similar class situations also shares similar life chances. Max Weber’s position was that
“while class forms one possible basis for group formation, collective action and acquisition of
power are the other basis for these activities. In particular, groups form because their members
share a similar ‘status situation’, whereas class refers to unequal distribution of economic
reward, status refers to the unequal distribution of ‘social honour’” (Ibid: 45-46).
Significantly, there is an emerging social class structure among the Khwe Bushmen. As in many
modern societies the class structure of the Khwe community seems to be taking shape. This class
consists of very few individuals (though less than one percent) whose paychecks are gotten
outside the social grant scheme. Unlike the rest of the community, they own bank accounts cars,
technologies and other things beyond the reach of an average Khwe person. This is a radical
change and a shift away from the traditional Bushman structure the traditional homogenous and
socially classless society. Individuals who constitute this class in Khwe community are mostly
adults between the ages of 35-50, who are business owner (liquor businesses), SABC/XK FM
executive staff members, prison warders, clergymen, serving military officers in the SA army
and local politicians (ANC and DA stalwarts).
Many of the individuals in this group relocated from the RDP houses provided by government
and have built shacks-like, but bigger houses and extensions towards the entrance of Platfontein.
The question then is; why build shacks when they can comfortably build modern houses? The
researcher deliberately did not ask these questions from them during interviews, as it may seem
discomforting. Due to the sharp disparity between this class of people and the rest of the
community, many in social circle have been attacked or denigrated by the poorer larger
population. For instance, one of my interviewees who belonged to this class (an owner of a
Toyota Fortuner and an executive staff at SABC) complains that his car and those of his fellow
car owners are targeted by hoodlums within the community. He says he believes many of these
acts (which had never existed before) were motivated due to the community’s exposure to
numerous media. Of particular interest to the present study are the children of individuals within
this social class, who are involved in hip-hop and who seem to constitute a class-based
subculture by virtue of their parent’s influence. This is discussed in the second part of this
Figure 5.4: Mr. Wineel Leejara, an ex-soldier and an ANC Stalwart in Platfontein
Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©.
Generational Divide in Khwe Community: ‘Traditional’ Versus ‘Modern’
These whole traditional stuffs are good, but in today’s life, we cannot go far doing
those things. That is why we (the youths) are adapting to the new things we are
learning from outside (Obert Ndoni, interview, June, 2014)
Undoubtedly, generational differences and clashes exist in the Khwe community. As explained
earlier, this is down to the sharp differences in orientation of both generations. While many of
the youths were acculturated in South Africa and thus belong to the new school, the older people
continue to struggle in their understanding of the present era. The older people to a large extent
admit that their perceptions and views are no longer relevant to the youth, thus the youths are left
at the mercy of the new media where they acculturate whatever form of modernity they
encounter and can afford. Thus, the youths in Platfontein today are usually at the forefront of
many modern activities.
These generational clashes seem to have begun in Schmidtsdrift. According to Katharina Meyer,
as far back as the mid-1990s, the young people often mock and jeer the old people for being
backward. Meyer explained that whenever the older people are involved in traditional activities
such as crafts, the children younger people mock them and tagged them illiterates (quoted in
Robbins, 2004). The local radio station has been of help to the older people in this regard.
Through its programming, the station tries to orientate the older people and also promote the
cultural heritage of the people (Hart, 2011).
Many of the parents in the social class described earlier don’t see anything in the youth’s
character, behaviour and new found music culture. For instance, Mr. Zeka Shiwara whose
daughter is involved in hip-hop says “I think hip-hop is good, it has been used to fight for human
rights in the US. This is a free South Africa; everyone is entitled to learn whatever culture and
style they want.” (Interview, June, 2013). This parent believes in the spirit of a free postapartheid South Africa, the youths are at liberty to do whatever they want and however they want
However, another parent, Mr. Niclas Tenda disagrees with the above view. He says “this new
life of theirs is not good; some of them sag and wear some really crazy cloths. Although I
understand we were born in different setting, nevertheless there are certain things they should
know are not right. They must always ask themselves, is the life am living in line with my
forefather’s culture”. Mr. Tenda then enjoined the youths to balance their ‘new life’ with the ‘old
life by retaining the bits of the Khwe culture in their Quest for modern culture’. He also enjoined
them (the youth) to meet the older musicians in the community to teach them how they can mix
and benefit from the traditional techniques and music (Interview, June 2014).
Mr. Tenda’s opinion is in tandem with the tenet of the appropriation theory as proposed by
Sponsler (2002), which stresses that appropriation is an act of bricolage in which necessary
culture and materials that make sense with the larger structures of the society are selectively
appropriated. This is also reiterated by Hebdige (1979), that pieces of commodity culture that are
reassembled by subcultures must make sense with their own concerns, activities, group structure,
as well as the collective self-image of their society.
Another woman whose daughter is involved with hip-hop complains of the radical changes that
have occurred during her time growing up and the present era. Mrs Mariana
when we were young, we grew up under our parent’s tutelage. For instance,
whenever they tell us not to go out alone late and night, we obeyed, because
failure to obey meant wild animal might devour us. However, these days if you
give your children instructions or assign them work to do, they do not obey, they
complain they are busy with assignments or music. These are valid excuses we
never had in our time (Interview, June 2014).
Young people such as Obert Ndoni (not a hip-hopper) believe what differentiates the old from
the young in the community is the fact the youths are far exposed than the older people “for
instance I own a laptop from my job in SABC and have access to internet”. He further says that
“the old people have struggle and failed to make us grow”. Obert’s opinion reveals the
perspective of the young generation in Platfontein who believe the older people are no longer
relevant in the present era, and have taken up cultures such as hip-hop to drive their own
Figure 5.5: After years of living on the fringe and embroiled in war, the older generation in Khwe struggle badly in
their encounter with modernity.
Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©.
Section Two71
The Khwe Hip-hop Scene
The days and nights spent in Platfontein was spent among the Khwe hip-hopper, this enabled me
to have a grasp of their identity. In this section, I attempt to paint a picture of the typical lifestyle
of a Khwe hip-hopper.
The Khwe hip-hop took off in 2009 with a music group called DRAP JJ stars who enjoyed the
monopoly of the scene until around late 2012, when other groups and individuals began to get
involved in hi-hop. In this section, I discuss a bit about these various groups highlighting their
unique features, differences and similarities to one another. Although all the groups and
individuals discussed constitute the hip-hop subculture in this study, nevertheless individual
groups have certain unique feature such as, the level of exposure to the new media technology,
economic status and fashion tastes etc., which vary from one group to another.
The DRAP JJ Stars
As revealed earlier in chapter one, hip-hop began as rap in the Khwe community in 2009 when
five persons, namely; Daniel Kapira Robert Kabuatta, Andre Nthoho, Piet Jonas and James
Kazumba came together to form a group known as DRAP JJ stars, using the first letter of their
names. Although they remain popular and continue to produce rap some music that are played in
the local radio station, many of the group members today are unemployed and frustrated as the
fame has not improved the economic status.
Back in 2009, the group became popular after they released their first album titled Namibia,
Angola en Botswana. The album songs which were sung entirely in Khwe dialect narrates the
story of the Khwe multiple migration in the last five decades. Many embraced the song, ignoring
its strange genre mainly because the story and narratives resonates among the people. The Khwe
traditional chief says “we like the fact that this music tells the story of our difficult past”
(Interview, June 2014).
The songs then were produced in the XK FM’s studio and made available to the youths in
compact disc (CD) format. As the youths gained access to modern means, they converted the
The sources of data collection in this section were interviews (with XK FM Producers, the older people and the
hip-hoppers themselves) and participatory observation
songs into Mp3 format and listened to them on mobile devices. Till this day many of the songs
from the album are still being played on XK FM. The subsequent album and songs produced by
this group were however not as successful as the first due to the following reasons;
They were sung with the mixture of Khwedam, Afrikaans and English language (when
the majority of the Khwe population speaks only Khwedam).
They were laced with expletives (using offensive language such as a’ motherfucker’)
Due to the offensive nature and themes in the songs XK FM didn’t play the music on the
Because the radio, is the main media of communication the community, the song was not
heard by the general populace.
They started becoming delinquent as a result of more exposure to hardcore hop-hop
(Moshe Mahundu Interview, June 14, 2014).
After DRAP JJ Stars’ first album, they became exposed to hardcore raps and this influenced their
music and general expression. It was also around this time, many of the members of the music
group dropped out of school to work as security guards to be able to maintain the hip-hop
lifestyle. When asked why they dropped out of school, many say they grew tired of school and
needed to get a life for themselves (interviews). The DRAP JJ stars however remain respected in
the community and in particularly by new individuals and groups in the hip-hop scene. The two
most popular of these new entrants are the ‘blood eye gangs’ and the ‘BICs’.
The Blood Eye Gang
The Blood Eye Gangs are the ‘new kids on the block’. By virtue of their parent’s social status,
members of this group are more sophisticated compared to the DRAP JJ stars. Some group
members are often seen around the community driving their parents’ cars and playing loud hiphop music. The majority of the Blood Eyes are in their final grades in high school and due to
their parents social class and economic status, many of the members of this group are far
exposed to life outside their local Platfontein community.
The name ‘Blood Eye’ was coined from their activities and the red eye side effect from smoking
marijuana. Membership of this group hinges on one’s economic status reflected through
dressing, mobile technologies and access to the latest information on hip-hop. For instance,
Moses (popularly called Mozz); a member of this group is a son of an Army corporal. Unlike
many impoverished families in Khwe, Mozz’s family owns a car, washing machine, DStvand
and internet-enabled mobile phones. Mozz represents the new class-base subculture in
Platfontein. He is trendy and can afford to maintain the general hip-hop lifestyle like many
youths in the city.
This group converge at night to drink and smoke marijuana, which they said gives inspiration.
For instance, Mozz says “when I smoke this shit,72 it gives me inspiration and confidence”
(interview, June, 2014). Also because, of their exposure, many members of this group speak
relatively fluent English language when compared to other youths in the community. In fact
some like Mozz speak the American accent. Unlike their parents who make efforts to connect
with the general populace by going down to the local pub to drink Tombo, the Blood Eye Gangs
separate themselves from the rest of the youths in the community. During the South African
youth day celebration on 16th June, 2014, a programme was organised by the local radio station
in which hip-hoppers were allowed on stage to perform. The Blood Eye gang had the loudest
screams from the other youths and children. This suggests that their lifestyle is appreciated and
perhaps envied by other youths in the community.
When asked of their role models, many of the blood eye members listed; Jay Z, Rick Ross,
Kanye West and others A list world known hip-hop artists that are synonymous with hardcore
hip-hop raps.
The BICs: female Hip-hoppers in Khwe
Hip-hop is generally considered a male dominated music genre. This trend is not different in the
Khwe community, where just three females are involved in music, when compared to their male
counterparts of about fifteen. The present study includes female participant, particularly in
response to the criticisms of earlier subculture studies which alienated female youth from its
study participants (see McRobbie & Garber, 1976).
BIC is an acronym for Best Incredible Choir. They are a group of three cousins, namely, Diana
Shiwara, Sartjie Shiwara and Nikkita Shiwara. These female hip-hoppers construct their identity
Referring to the weed in his hand
based on American female artists such as Nikki Minaj, this is reflected in this line coined from
their songs titled Freaky World: Nicki Minaj73 who you think you are… this is our world our
freaky world world…” Also, many of the rap songs reveal generational disparities between the
girls and their mothers. For instance the song Diana ft Mully Diana, Diana says “I did tell my
mother this is me, this is my life, face your own”.
Like the Blood Eye gang, the BICs officially started music in 2013 and they performed on stage
during the Kalahari festival in that same year. Their songs, which are mostly rendered in Khwe
and English language reflects their exposure to the new media. For instance the following line
was coined from one of their songs titled BIC Plat:
I am here to do ma job,
Amma rip you up like Nicki Minaj,
Amma hit it up like willow smith.
Check BBM and Twitter may be you can follow me
Give me a request on Facebook and amma check you later
Although Gottlieb and Wald (1994) claim female performers go through complicated contortions
as they appropriate and repudiate a traditionally masculine space, the Khwe female hip-hoppers
refutes this by they do not in any way struggle and they have good ‘working’ relationship with
male counterparts with whom they have collaborated severally and made many duets.
Figure 5.6: Diana Shiwara, a member of the BIC. Source: Andre Nthoho (gift to author) 2014 ©.
Nicki Minaj is a female American rapper
The Khwe hip-hoppers are trendy and extremely conscious of how they appear in the public.
Unlike the rest of the Khwe youth population, they seem to always appear distinct from others.
They often wear accessories such as sneakers, sunglasses, baseball caps and often have
headphones on. Back in August, I encountered one of the hip-hopper, who skipped school and
asked why he skipped school; his response was “my sneakers are dirty and you know I can’t go
to school with dirty sneaks” (interview, October 2014). This goes to show the emphasis placed
on individual appearance by the Khwe hip-hoppers.
Violence, Crime and Drug Taking
The community has been quite peaceful until the middle of 2013. Cases of theft and other crime
has, however, exacerbated in recent times. For instance, back in June 2014, a van belonging to
my research team (from CCMS, UKZN), packed somewhere by the side of the main road was
burgled and valuables stolen.
Many of the older people have attributed the rising spates of crime to drugs, hip-hop as other
external influences from outside the community. The truth is; a lot of young people in Platfontein
become entangled in drugs at a very tender age. It is almost as if, drug taking (marijuana and
others) is legalized in the community. Many youths have dropped out of school with the sole aim
of working to provide themselves with drugs and alcohol (Skambo Lenda, interview, October
2014). Alcoholism and drug abuse is however not specific to the Khwe community alone. Many
Bushman communities across southern Africa are said to be blighted by this problem (Grant &
Dicks, 2014).
Many of the Khwe hip-hoppers are addicted smokers of marijuana. According to a source, the
substance is imported into the community from Namibia. They come together to smoke early in
the morning and late at night. It is believed that the substance gives confidence and boost
creativity. For instance Sondrick Mbagu says “I used to be very shy, but since I started taking
this, I have confidence to approach anybody anywhere”. Many believe the use of substances such
as marijuana is the reason why many youths in the Khwe community continue to drop out of
school and get involved in theft to be able to afford to get high.
Producing Hip-hop
Modern music production began in Platfontein with a family and music known as UB who are
from the !Xun side of Platfontein. As far back as 2008, the music group was buoyant enough
procure equipment such as video camera, guitar etc. By 2013, after the South African San Institute
(SASI)74 recording studio closed down due to logistic reasons, the group together with the Khwe
hip-hoppers built a Do It Yourself (DIY) recording studio in their home.
As revealed earlier, the young hip-hoppers began hip-hop production in the studio of SABC’s
XK FM. However, Moshe reveals that the station stopped allowing them in its studio because of
tight schedules and because much of the music has derailed from the cultural norm and the
ethical standard of the station. Thus, since 2013, hip-hop music in Platfontein has been produced
in the UB bedroom studio in the !Xun side of Platfontein.
Figure 5.7 - Some of the Khwe hip-hoppers recording songs in a makeshift bedroom studio in Platfontein township
Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©.
SASI provided recording equipment and trained the youths on how to use them. However due to withdrawal of
SASI from Platfontein in 2013, chaos ensued among the youths (on who has the right to use it) and the equipment
had to be withdrawn from the community.
Performing Hip-hop
Many of the Khwe hip-hoppers have performed their music in the Kalahari festivals in the last
two years. They also perform during the National youth day celebration programs organised by
SABC in the community. Gaining access to performance spaces outside their domain is always
going to be difficult due to the fact that many of their music are sung in the indigenous language.
However, the new incoming rappers who seem to mix English language in their rap songs hope
they can soon begin to make money from invitation to gigs in the city. These performances
provide the hip-hoppers opportunity to see how their music is being appreciated by kids and
fellow youths in the community.
Figure 26: Some members of the blood eye gang performing during the National youth day program in Platfontein
Figure 5.8: BICs of Platfontein performing during the Kalahari Desert festival in 2013
Source: XK Fm (SABC) – gift to the author. 2013 ©
Religion and Hip-hop: From the stage to the pulpit
I observed many of the hip-hoppers were also strict with their religion (Christianity). Many of
the Khwe people are Christians today; hence the hip-hoppers are no different. The church is the
only place where the young and old come together under the same roof in unification. The
church in this regard may be seen as the meeting point of all generations
I was taken aback by the sight of a hip-hop preacher back in October, 2014. Piet, who is a
member of the DRAP JJ Stars presided over the church service of the day. He says he regards
both hip-hop and the pulpit as platform to preach the good news of hope (interview, October,
Figure 5.10: From the stage to the pulpit: both platforms are used to preach the good news – says Piet
Source: Itunu Bodunrin 2014 ©
Uses of Hip-hop in Khwe: ‘Pushing the Bushman Forward’
One of the Khwe hip-hoppers when asked about what he hopes to achieve with hip-hop says “I
just wanna push the Bushman forward with my hip-hop music”. I later found this sentence to be
very complicated and contradictory, particularly in the light of the many representations of the
Bushman as ‘primitive’. Hip-hop began in the community out of a need for the youths to voice
out themselves and as a medium to vent their frustration against a system which marginalises
them. It has since metamorphosed into a platform to compete for a space in the global youth
culture scene and a platform to re-construct their images identities as Bushmen.
Factors that affect the Appropriation of Hip-hop
Many of the Khwe hip-hoppers chose the new media technologies as well as the traditional
media as the main influence to their acculturation of hip-hop. The data presented in this section
were the respondents answer to the question; “How do you get news and information about
lastest happenings and trends in hip-hop?” Hence, the various media discussed below in the
order of influence and popularity among the Khwe hip-hoppers. Like any modern society, the
Khwe youths have access to many new media networks and platforms (though limited).
In Hebdige (1979) study of the punk, he states that, the media play an important role in creating
the subculture both favourably and unfavorably. In other words, when social behaviours are
presented in the media it either causes certain subculture creation through rebellion against the
prescribed style (in the media) or makes youth to conform to what to the images being
represented (see Hebdige, 1979; Miles, 2000). In the Khwe of the conforming Khwe youth
subculture, they try to replicate the images and styles represented in the media. These are briefly
presented and explained below.
The Internet
More than 90% of the Khwe hip-hoppers regard the internet as the first and major influence to
the hip-hop culture and style. As earlier revealed, the only source of internet connectivity
available to the youths in the community is the mobile internet via their internet-enabled mobile
phones. Due to Platfontein proximity to the city of Kimberley, internet reception in the
community is fairly fast. However, very few youths can afford an internet enabled-phone phones.
The few people who seem to afford this were youths whose parent belonged to the social class
described in section one. Other hip-hoppers rely on these youths to have access internet
Social Media
Many Khwe hip-hoppers today are active users on many social media platforms particularly,
Facebook. As revealed earlier, this is reflected in the lyrics of their songs as well as the
conversations one has with them. When I first encountered the Khwe youths in 2013, they were
quick to give me their email addresses as well as their YouTube and Facebook names.
Through this media, I am able to keep tabs with the Khwe youth activities on social media. I also
realised these platforms are used by the youths to promote their music. For instance figure 25 is a
Facebook update by a DRAP JJ star in August 2014, promoting his group brand. The social
media are also used by the Khwe hip-hoppers to attune themselves with global youth trends such
as slangs.
Figure 5.11: Social media platform such as Facebook is utilised by the Khwe hip-hoppers
Source: Facebook
Television (Cable Satellite)
As in most parts of Africa, DStv is becoming very popular as a cable television in Khwe
community. Interestingly, I observed that many of those who own DStv in their homes could
speak the English language almost impeccably. While the older watch channels such as the
AfricaMagic, which shows 24hours of Nigerian films, the young hip-hoppers also converge in
houses with DStv to watch American rap music videos. Many of the Khwe hip-hoppers
particularly those whose parents own DStv, say it is influential media for getting the latest news
on styles of hip-hop. For instance when asked where he gets his latest news on hip-hop. Mozz
says in American accent “I gat ma DStv and Mtv.” Thus, the TV particularly the DStv and video
music player have changed a lot of culture and exposed the Khwe people to foreign culture,
languages and news outside their domain.
Interpersonal Contact
Some other youths claim to have been influenced by individuals, particularly by the guys from
the DRAP JJ star music group. For instance Belson Kajanga says “Andre (a member of the
DRAP JJ Star) brought me up in the rap game. I look up to him and respect him a lot”
(Interview, June 2014). Some like Jona Marinda say the learned to produce hip-hop beats when
their family member visited the community from Cape Town. Apparently some of the !Xun and
Khwe are presently in Cape Town, they are employed by museums and other tourist
organisations as tourist guards. When such individuals visit Platfontein, they influence their
relatives in the township.
Print Media
Others say they get the latest information about hip-hop from magazines which they buy
whenever they are chanced to visit the city of Kimberley. For instance, Jason Marinda says “I
check the news on my friends’ phone and also read magazines whenever I go to Kimberley”.
Radio (XK fm)
Ironically, none of the Khwe hip-hoppers seem to choose the local radio station as an influence.
This goes to say the XK fm focuses its programming more to suit the adult population. Andre
says “the older people listen to XK, we are way passed that level” (interview, June 2014).
However, as stated in chapter one, there are indications that the radio station in some way
contributed to hip-hop in the early years.
Aspects most affected by Hip-hop Culture in Khwe Community
During my stay in Platfontein, I tried to identify those aspects that were affected by
modernization. This I did by interviewing older people to know their perception of life growing
up in Angola or Namibia and life in Schmidtsdrift, South Africa. Many of them admit that life in
Platfontein is far better off than the life they lived while growing up during the war, and they do
not regret opting to come to South Africa, particularly, as those who stayed back in Namibia
seem to live in worse conditions. However, unlike their relatives in Namibia who still retain
many of their indigenous culture and values, the present Khwe in Platfontein are fast loosing
many of theirs. These aspects affected are discussed below
“Language and music define us as humans. These traits appear in every human
society, no matter what other aspects of culture are absent” Patel, 2008: 3)
Studies have shown that the mastery of language as well as music goes hand in hand as both
involve a higher level of executive control (see Milovanov et al., 2011; Francois et al., 2011;
Putkinen et al., 2012; Patel, et al, 2007). In other words these studies revealed that music is a
good and a cognitive resource for learning a second language. Similarly, within the Khwe
community, many adults interviewed believe the aspect of their culture most affected by
modernization is the language. Considering the sizzling changes that ae happening to within the
Khwe indigenous, the likes of Mr. Mahundu considers the Khwedam (the Khwe indigenous
language) as the last identity of the people in the present era.
The Khwe today are losing many words in the language to Afrikaans (Provincial language) and
English (the global media language). For instance, I realised that there is no Khwedam word for
“thank you”; the Khwe people had substituted it for ‘dankie’ – an Afrikaans word for thank you.
I inquired from the older people and was told the word actually existed, but its usage had stopped
a long time ago.
Niclas is of the opinion that in order to sustain the local language, the youths to employ more of
the local language in their daily social interaction as well as in their music. He says, “Brenda
Fassie and many South African musicians have succeeded singing with their local language; the
Khwe hip-hop guys should in fact avoid the use of the English language and accent. They can
emulate the American style, but not the language.”
It is important to note that the idea of speaking multiple languages outside of one’s first language
is a typical feature in post-apartheid South Africa. According to Sarah Murray, since the dawn of
democracy in 1994, policies have emphasized strong boundaries between languages and people,
towards those that encourage people to learn and use many languages to communicate with each
other. This a shift away from the old singular identities, rooted in an intimate bonding of race,
language and culture, in order to embrace a more complex sense of self (Murray, : 434). Hence,
it is important to acknowledge that the Khwe learning of English language via hip-hop and other
digital platforms is infact consistent with the tenents of the new South Africa’ (cf. Alexander
1996; Rosenberg, 2002).
Adult-youth relationship
The relationship between the youth and the adults has been severely affected in recent times. For
instance, Mr. Niclas Tenda laments that the youth no longer has respect for the elders, something
that was unheard in their own generation. “An elder no longer have influence in the society now
that they (the youth) feel they know more that the elders. For instance, nowadays whenever
young people are fighting, and an elder intervenes, they will tell the elder to go away, as this was
not Angola or Namibia, and as such they are not relevant” (Interview, June, 2013). Another case
which I witnessed was the one between a woman and his daughter who was at loggerheads over
her daughter’s frequent usage of her grandchild social grant by her daughter (see the sub-topic
‘the payment day’).
A particular study by Deborah James (1996) details the history of how the sotho speaking
communities of the northern Transvaal despite opposition to "the ways of the European", have
incorporated European elements when significant numbers of their children began attending
schools. This form of appropriation is consistent with the tenant of the appropriation theory as
roposed by
influence of hip-hop on the dressing can be undertood based on this study.
Although the traditional Khwe dressing known as !Xai had been substituted with modern outfit
long time ago. However, the perception among the adult circle is that the youths have taken the
modern dressing too far. For instance, Mr. Tenda believes it is an unfortunate situation the
youths have found themselves these days, “whatever they see on the TV and in the video, they
just copy, buy and wear them in the community.” As explained despite poverty and high
unemployment rate, many of the money spent on clothing are gotten from the government social
grant package.
It is believed the hip-hop and other postmodern culture contributes to the high rate of
promiscuity sexual activities (including abuse) in the Khwe community. These were unknown in
the traditional San society (Le Roux, 2008). As revealed, many youths are exposed to sexuality
at a very young age. Niklas Shiwara believes the lack of respect for sexuality is encouraged by
the modern exposures of the young people. He says “in the olden days we were taught to respect
sex, we controlled our urges, but nowadays, a man cannot even leave his wife alone with his
friend, you know what will happened…” This is in tandem with studies that shows that the hiphop culture supports, glorifies and celebrates sexualities especially those expressed in rap lyrics
which connotes sex and violence. The genre has come under intense criticism from scholars and
activists who accused its misogynistic lyrical messages and videos which influences young
listeners (see Adams & Fuller, 2006; Armstrong, 2001).
It is also important to note that South Africa is reported to have one of the highest rates of sexual
violence in the world. Adolescent girls are vulnerable to becoming victims of sexual violence
while the adolescent boys often become the perpetrators of such abuse (Peterson et al, 2005).
Hence the high rate of sexual activity is not only peculiar to the Khwe community, but it is a
common trend in many South African communities.
What Does the Future hold? The fear of being like the ‘Griquas’
“… if they (the youths) continue their lives the way they are, we are going to be like the
Mr Zeka Shiwara (Interview, June 2014).
In three separate interviews with some adults, I realised the word ‘Griqua’ keeps coming up.
Hence, on my third visit, I sort to know more about the so-called Griquas. According to sources
the Griquas also known as ‘Griquas’ were Bushman communities who today lost all their
identities including language. It is believed that their indigenous language had been overridden
by Afrikaans which is widely spoken in the Northern Cape Province (Interview, June, 2013). Just
like the Bushmen, The Griquas has had a history of multiple migrations and displacements
(Lang, 2007).
There is a general fear among the adult circle that the Khwe indigenous culture is on the verge of
extinction. With external influences of hip-hop and films, the language and local music is being
threatened. As earlier discussed, while some adults believe the process of culture change75 is
inevitable in the present era, others believe all hands must be on deck to ensure their rich culture
is not over-ridden by hip-hop and other infiltrating global and modern cultures. There are talks
about the Khwe dictionary that is being compiled (see Kilian-Hatz & Brenzinger, 2003). It is
envisaged that this to a large extent will go a long way in preserving the language of the people.
Culture change is the process by which existing order of a society – its oganisation, beliefs and knowledge is
more or less transformed (Malinowski, 1945: viii).
Section 3
Rethinking class-based youth culture and identity
Since the advent of postmodernist perspectives, the classic social variable of ‘class’ has been
challenged, questioned and seen as insufficient in explaining the behaviour of human groups
(Butler, 1990; Miller, 1997; Diethrich, 1999/2000; Jerrentrup, 2000; Roccor, 2000 Muggleton,
While in the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies’ traditional musical cultures
were often explicitly linked to a broader political and economic context (notably ‘class’), many
analysis of postmodern youth cultures are striking for their frequent assertions that taste and
aesthetics rather than social class, are resource for the creation of identity and styles, especially
in cultural style associated with middle class (Bucholtz, 2002; Ball, Maguire & MacRae, 2000).
They argue that today’s social relations do not have the same rigidity as the past (Maffesoli,
1996,) and this is most visible by the decline of high culture and an increase in the consumption
of popular culture by the upper classes in Europe and the US (Purhonen, Gronow, & Rahkonen,
2009; Van Eijck &Knulst, 2005; DiMaggio & Mukhtar, 2008).
Many of these studies have visibly obscured or ignored African societies. For instance, in a
modernising and socially fluid societies such as Khwe (where for several years there were no
identifiable social classes in the classical European sense of the concept) and where a tiny
fraction of individuals seem to be constituting an emergent class division within the previously
classless society, the notion of ‘class’ as the basis for identity seem applicable. As presented in
the study, the fact that new media technologies (the most important factor in the acculturation of
hip-hop) – are not generally accessible to all, but an exclusive of youth whose parent belong to
the social ‘class’, identified in the study. In this sense, ‘class’ is used to denote material wellbeing and social standing.
This argument is in tandem with a study conducted in the University Of Sussex, Department of
Education76 which postulated that the social class subculture serves to adapt and prepare their
children to assume their class status. This explains why an average middle class child’s
socialisation is very different from that of the average lower class child. This different
orientations and socialisation, shapes the child’s ambition, education, work habits etc.
In the Khwe community, many youth who cannot afford internet-enabled phones, for instance,
often resort to other means such as stealing and dropping out of school to take up menial jobs in
order to be among this class and keep up with the lifestyles of the new emerging Khwe hiphoppers. The limitations of youth in the modernising in replicating media representations due to
limited resources are emphasised by Miles (2000) who argues that in modernising societies
ideological inculcation is more immediately relevant than the chasm between the representations
of modem life presented by the media when compared to the realities of limited economic
opportunities for most youths.
Hence, my argument here is that relationship to modernism to a large extent plays a crucial role
in the significance of ‘class’ in a broad sense of material wealth, social standing and self-esteem
as a basis of identity of a group. This is because unlike in most modern society, where economic
status does not determine access to popular music culture and styles; in places such as Khwe,
where an encounter with modernity is fairly recent and where the absolute majority are ‘poor’;
access to popular culture (via internet, satellite television) is an exclusive luxury of certain tiny
class of people.
It should be noted that previous studies on subcultures tend to assume ‘class’ as an already-given
category, predefined by historical precedent. Dick Hebdrige (1979), for instance (in his study of
the Teddy-boys, Modes, Rockers, Skin-heads etc.), assumes the in creation and expression of district
styles, subcultures often organise themselves on class basis, that is, within a social order
fractured by class. Hence, class has played a significant role in the analysis of subcultures;
however, many of these class-based analyses were already embedded in the historical specific
working class structures of mid-century British society, and carry the baggage of a longestablished and well theorised class division. This same level of division and analysis does not
exist in Khwe society, and parallel examples are rare. Thus, this is a theoretical issue that will
require further academic attention.
The social class identified in this study (within the Khwe community) to a large extent cannot be
compared to classes in other contemporary society. More than 99% of the people are poor and
dependent or government aid and the significant few who belong to the social class seem to will
some sort of power when compared to their disempowered fellow Bushmen. Hence, to a large
extent ‘class’ contributes significantly to the formation of subculture in rural indigenous society.
The subculture by virtue of their parent’s status could afford to maintain lifestyles which an
average Khwe youth cannot.
Analysis Conclusion
The chapter has revealed the lifestyles as well as the sharp cultural difference between the Khwe
‘hip-hop generation’ (cf. Kitwana, 2002), and that of the older Khwe Bushmen. No doubt there
are intersections such as the church - where the two generations jointly agree on a course.
Outside the church circle, the youth remains immersed in orientations outside their local milieu.
The new media technology such as the internet and the social media are redefining the traditional
norms and practices. Hence, though they (the youths) live with the adult in the local township,
their orientations are received in spaces far from the local environment.
In the spirit of freedom in a post-apartheid South Africa, some adult supports the youth quest for
external orientations. They believe the process of culture change is inevitable, as an ultimate cost
of living in a modern environment. For instance Mrs. Mariana Shiwara says “I am happy that my
daughter is doing what she likes (hip-hop). She has been writing music at young age. I hope her
dreams come true and she makes a lot of money out of hip-hop”. However some others like Mr
Moshe and Mr Niclas believes that their rich indigenous culture is being eroded and in fact on
the verge of extinction as a result of hip-hop and other infiltrating global and modern cultures.
Hence, it is believed that hip-hop encourages deviancy, delinquencies and violence among the
Khwe youths. The expletives of violence which have become typical in the Khwe hip-hop lyrics
seem to have metamorphosed into real life violence and dangerous practices. The lyrics of their
songs also reflect exposure to new media technologies which is yet to be accessed by the
majority in the community.
The study records that the social and economic influence of some of the youth through their
parents’ higher socio-economic status tend to give access to new media platforms through which
they keep up with hip-hop and other global trends. However, this does not allow them to relate
with many local practices in the community. As seen in the case of Mr. Mbuga and Mr.
Kazumba (the two Khwe traditional musicians whose children have chosen hip-hop rather than
learn their family traditional musical instrument), the new technology and music cultures
appropriated by their children does not encourage them to learn or participate in their family
traditional music tradition. Hence, one may conclude that to a large extent, hip-hop and other
global cultures do not encourage local participation of youths in Khwe community. The older
generations who have somewhat accepted their struggle with post-modernity, are thus forced to
accept their children’s music culture and lifestyle with the hope that it might translate to their
economic benefit in the future.
Figure 5.12: Class-based subculture: Moss represents the new generation of young hip-hoppers with high taste,
class and easy access to new media technology
Source: Thom Pierce (gift to author) 2014 ©.
CHAPTER 6: Conclusion and Recommendations
Like most Bushmen communities, the Khwe people are characterised by poverty,
disempowerment, dependency, unemployment, alcohol and substance abuse, and neglect from
government departments (cf. Grant 2011; Robbins 2004; Tomaselli, 2005). However, unlike
other communities in the Kalahari with limited access to the internet and modern technologies - a
mere “desolate stretch of land…with no electricity, no running water, and no sign of city life” as
Shanade Barnabas (2009: 95) described one of one community, the Khwe (the Khwe youth)
seem to be maximising their proximity to Kimberley as they seek new orientation such as hiphop from the new media to empower themselves as post-modern youths.
They Khwe hip-hop subculture to a large extent may be considered a reactive subculture. A
reactive subculture is one in which members of a particular subcultural group develop or adopt
norms and values that are both a response to and opposition against the prevailing norms and
values that exist in the wider culture (A. Cohen, 1955). Unlike the independent subcultures (see
Chapter 3 of the study) who adopt values and norms which are self-constructed and selfcontained, the Khwe youths construct their styles and lifestyles mostly from the new media
technologies (which they have previously not had access to), in opposition to the prevailing
Khwe culture.
The culture of hip-hop, promoted by the new media such as the internet, social media, digital
satellite television etc.), is seen by the Khwe youth as a platform to “push the Bushman
forward.” In other words, as marginalised youth who are often suppressed in the mainstream
(modern society), hip-hop seem like an alternative medium to voice out themselves as youths
present in modernity. However in their quest to belong and ‘push the Bushman forward’, they
continue to be at loggerheads with the adults who seem disconnected from postmodern realities.
Another issue the present study addresses is the notion of ‘class’. When I set out for this
research, I didn’t envisage that the notion of ‘class’ (within the subculture theory) would be
relevant in my study of the Bushmen who have been generally categorised as a single group in
the past. However, like the early posy-war societies, ‘social classes’ seem to be the most
fundamental groups (see Hall and Jefferson, 1976). The Khwe community seem to be growing
towards class-based society.
As more and more individuals break away from poverty which characterises the absolute
majority, they join the tiny group of socialites described in this study. By extension the children
of individuals in this class are forming themselves into the new class of hip-hoppers. Due to a
massive exposure of the young hip-hoppers they tend to dissociate themselves from participation
in local activities.
The present era in the Khwe community is comparable to the post-war British era. With many of
the subcultures now enrolled in school, it is hoped that education coupled with an all-roud
exposure will help to liberate the Khwe people in the future. However, there is a need for the
young hip-hoppers to engage with the new media more productively for things other than hiphop. The fact that many of the youth can now read and write in English language helps their
acculturation of modern culture through the internet.
To whom much is given, much is expected. A study conducted by Le Roux (1999) reveals that
the San parents generally believe that once their children are educated to understand "the system"
from which they feel excluded, they will be able to promote San interests. Hence, there is a need
for the Khwe hip-hop subculture to learn to selectively choose culture and styles which are in
tandem with their local tradition or which may indeed ‘push them forward’ (quoting a
respondent). Rather than merely embrace all postmodern popular cultures encountered, the Khwe
hip-hop subculture may leverage on the platform to present themselves more uniquely as
Bushmen that they are, via their music. In other words, the fast- paced ‘hypermodern’ world
which they have found themselves can be ‘tuned down’ and utilised more effectively for their
local needs. Hence, as the Khwe youths negotiate their way into post-modernity via hip-hop,
there is a need for them to manage their general exposure to a culture known to promote youth
delinquencies, deviancy, drug-taking and crime when mismanaged.
Abrams, M. (1959) The Teenage Consumer, London: Press Exchange.
Adams, T. M. and Fuller B. (2006) ‘The Words Have Changed but the Ideology Remains the
Same: Misogynistic Lyrics In Rap Music’, Journal of Black Studies 36 (6): 938-957.
Agar, M. (1973) Ripping and Running: A Formal Ethnography of Urban Heroin Addicts. New
York: Seminar Press.
Alexander, N. (1992) ‘A language policy for a future South Africa’. Proceedings of the English
Academy of Southern Africa Conference. 1–3 July. Cape Town: University of Cape Town, pp.
Alim, S. (2009) ‘Translocal Style Communities: Hip Hop Youth as Cultural Theorists of Style,
Language and Globalization’. International Pragmatics Association 19:1.103-127.
Allan, B. (2001) Series Editor’s Forewords, In A. Bennett (ed.) Cultures of Popular Music,
Buckingham: Open University Press, x-xi.
Amit-Talai, V. (1995) The “multi” cultural of youth. London: Routledge.
Androutsopoulos J, Scholz A. (2003) ‘Spaghetti funk: appropriations of hip-hop culture and rap
music in Europe’. Pop Music Soc 26(4):463–79.
Appadurai, A. (1990) Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy, In M.
Featherstone (ed.) Global Culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity, London: Sage
Publications, 295-310.
Appiah, K. A. (1992) In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Arko-Achemfuor, A. (2012) ‘Entrepreneurship Education in Ghana through Akan Folk Songs’.
Muziki Journal of Music Research in Africa, Vol. 9 (2) pp. 9-14.
Armstrong, E. G. (2001)’ Gangsta Misogyny: A content Analysis of the Portrayal of Violence
against Women in Rap Music’, 1987-1993, Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture 8
(2): 96-126.
Arnett, J. (2005) ‘Adolescents' uses of media for self-socialization’, Journal of Youth and
Adolescence 24, (5), pp. 519-533.
Arnolds, M. (1867) Culture and Anarchy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Badsha, F (2003) Old Skool Rules/New Skool Breaks: Negotiating Identities in the Cape Town
Hip-hop scene. In H. Wasserman and S. Jacobs (eds.) Shifting Selves: Post-Apartheid Essays on
Mass Media, Culture and Society. Pp. 109-129.
Ball, S. J., Maguire, M. and Macrae, S. (2000) Choice, Pathways and Transitions Post-16: new
youth, new economies in the global city. London: Falmer Press.
Barbarin, O. (2003) ‘Social risks and child development in South Africa: A nation’s program to
protect the right of children’. American of Orthopsychiatry, 73 (3), 248-254.
Barber, K. (1997) Views of the Field. In K. Barber (ed.) Readings in African Popular Culture,
Indiana: Indiana University Press, pp1-12
Barnabas, S. (2009) I Paint Therefore I Am? An Exploration of Contemporary Bushman Art in
South Africa and its Development Potential. Masters Dissertation, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Available at
Barnabas, S. (forthcoming) The dynamics of heritage, tourism and culture at the Wildebeest Kuil
Rock Art Tourism Centre: a Case Study PhD Thesis, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban,
South Africa.
Barnard, A. (2007) Hunters and Herders of Southern Africa: A comparative ethnology of the
Khoisan peoples. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Battersby, J (2003) Sometimes it feels like I’m not Black enough: Recast(e)ing Coloured through
South African Hip-hop as a Postcolonial Text. In H. Wasserman and S. Jacobs (eds.) Shifting
Selves: Post-Apartheid Essays on Mass Media, Culture and Society. Pp. 109-129.
Becker, H. S. (1963) Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance, New York: Free Press.
Bell, A. (2010) The Subculture Concept: A Genealogy. In G. S. Shoham, P. Knepper, and M.
Kett, M. and Raton, B. (ed.) International Handbook of Criminology, FL: CRC Press. Pp. 153–
Bennett, T. (2007) As young as you feel: Youth as a discursive construct, In P. Hodkinson and
W. Deicke (eds.) Youth Cultures: Scenes, Subcultures and Tribe. New York: Taylor and Francis,
pp. 23-36.
Bennett, A. (2001) Cultures of Popular Music, Buckingham: Open University Press.
Bennett, A (1999a) ‘Subcultures or neo-tribes? Rethinking the relationship between youth, style
and musical taste’, Sociology, 33 (3): 559-617.
Bennett, A (1999b) Hip hop am Main: the localization of rap music and hip hop culture. Media
Culture Society 21 (1): 77-91.
Berry, J.W. (2003): Conceptual approaches to acculturation. In: Chun, K. Balls-Organista and P.
G. Marin (eds.) Acculturation: Advances in theory, measurement and applied research.
Washington, DC: APAPress, pp.17–37.
Bhabha, H (1994) The Locations of Culture New. York: Routledge.
Biltereyst, D. (1992). ‘Language and culture as ultimate barriers? an analysis of the circulation,
consumption and popularity of fiction in small European countries’. European Journal of
Communication, 7, 517-540.
Binford, L. R. (1968) Post-Pleeistocene Adaptations. In . L.R. Binford and S. R. Binford (eds.)
New Perspectives in Archeology, Chicago: Aldine.
Black, J. E. (2002) ‘The ‘‘mascotting’’ of Native America: Construction, commodity, and
assimilation’. American Indian Quarterly, 26, 605–622.
Blackman, S. (2014) Subculture Theory: An Historical and Contemporary Assessment of the
Concept for Understanding Deviance. London: Routledge.
Blackman, S. (2010b). ‘Youth Subcultures, Normalisation and Drug Prohibition: The Politics of
Contemporary Crisis and Change?’ British Politics 5(3):337–366.
Bleek and Lloyd (1911) Specimens of the Bushman Folklore.
Boas, Franz (1887) ‘Poetry and Music of some North American Tribes’. Science 9: 383-385.
Bocock, R. (1993) Consumption. London: Routledge.
Bodunrin, I. (2014) ‘Rap, graffiti and social media in South Africa today’. Media Development
4, pp. 10-15.
Boon, J. A. (1972) From Symbolism to Structuralism: Levi-Strauss in Literary Tradition.
Oxford: Blackwell; New York: Harper and Row.
Bourdieu, P. (1983) Vous Aves Dit Populaire. Actes de la Researche en Sciences Sociales 46:
Bregin, E., & B. Kruiper, B (2004) Kalahari Rain Song. Pietermaritzburg: UKZN Press.
Brown, A. (2007) Rethinking the subcultural commodity: The case of heavy metal t-shirt
culture(s). In P. Hodkinson and W. Deicke (eds.) Youth Cultures: Scenes, Subcultures and
Tribes. New York: Routledge, pp. 63-78.
Bryman, A. (2008) Social Science Research Methods.3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford University
Bucholtz, M. (2002) ‘Youth and Cultural Practice’. Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 31, pp.
Buckingham, D. (2006) Is There A Digital Generation? In D. Buckingham and R. Willett (eds.)
Digital Generations: Children, Young People and New Media, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Buescher, D. T., & Ono, K. A. (1996) ‘Civilized colonialism: Pocahontas as neocolonial
rhetoric’, Women’s Studies in Communication, 19, 127–153.
Burgess, J. (2006) ‘Hearing ordinary voices: cultural studies, vernacular creativity and digital
storytelling’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 20(2), pp. 201-214.
Buttler, J. (1990) Gender trouble: feminism and subversion of identity part 1. New York:
Butler, D. E. and Rose, R. (1960) The British General Election of 1959, London: Frank Cass.
Castells, Manuel (1996). The Rise of the Network Society Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Chambers, (1985) Urban Rhythms: Pop Music and Popular Culture, Basingstoke, U.K.:
Chaney, D. (1996) Lifestyles. London: Routledge.
Chopra, R. (2011) Media, Culture and Identity in the Time of the Global, In R. Chopra and R.
Gajjala, Global Media, Culture and Identity: Theories, Cases and Approaches New York, Sage
Publication, 1-16.
Chopra. R. & Gajjala, R. (2011) Global Media, Culture and Identity: Theory, Cases and Approaches.
New York: Routledge.
Clarke, J. and Jefferson, T. (1973) The Politics of Popular Culture: Culture and Subculture. Suband Popular Culture.
Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, The University of
Birmingham. Available as CCCS Stencilled paper Series: SP No.14.
Claude Lévi-Strauss, C. (1966) The Savage Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Clay, A (2003) ‘Keepin' it Real: Black Youth, Hip-Hop Culture, and Black Identity’. American
Behavioral Scientist 46: 1346-1358.
Clifford, J. (1988) The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-century Ethnography, Literature and
Art. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Clifford, J. and Marcus, G. (1986) Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography.
Berkeley: University of California Press.
Clinard, M. (1974) Sociology of Deviant Behaviour, 4th ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and
Cohen, A. (1955) Delinquent Boys: The Subculture of the Gang. London: Collier-Macmillan.
Cohen, P. (1972) ‘Subcultural Conflict and Working Class Community’. Working Papers in
Cultural Studies CCCS, University of Birmingham, Spring: 5–51.
Cohen, S. (1980). ‘Subcultural conflict and working class community’, in S. Hall, D. Hobson, A.
Lowe, P. Willis (eds.), Culture, media, language. Working papers in cultural studies, 1972–79,
London: Routledge, 66—75.
Coleman, J. (1961) The Adolescent Society. Illinois: Free Press.
Coplan, D (2014) We are just gossiping; but for you, this is work: Doing ethnography in 21st
Century South Africa. In K. G. Tomaselli (ed.) Making Sense of Research, Cape Town: Pearson.
Copland, D. B. (1985) Township Tonight! South Africa’s Black City Music and Theatre. London:
Croucher, S. L. (2004) Globalization and belonging: The politics of identity in a changing world.
MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Dao, T., Tetenb, A. & Nguyenc, Q. (2011) ‘Linear and orthogonal models of acculturation and
its relations to cultural variables: An examination of the Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity
Acculturation Scale (SL-ASIA)’, International Journal of Intercultural Relations 35, 61–68
Deacon, D. M.; Golding P.; Murdock, G. (1999) Researching Communications: A practical
guide and method in media and cultural analysis.London: Arnold.
Defleur, M and Dennis E. E. (1994) Understanding Mass Communication, 5th Ed. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin.
De Klerk, V. (1997) The role of expletives in the construction of masculinity. In Johnson, S and
U.H. Meinhof (eds.) Language and Masculinity. Oxford: Blackwell. 144-158.
DeMarrais, K. (2004) Qualitative interview studies: Learning through experience. In K.
deMarrais and S.D. Lapan (eds). Foundations for Research, Mahwah, New Jersey:
Erlbaum. pp. 51-68.
Den-Hertog, T (2013) ‘Diversity behind constructed unity: the resettlement process of the !Xun
and Khwe communities in South Africa’. Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 31:3, 345360.
Dickens, P. (1992) English-Ju/’hoan, Ju-hoan-English dictionary. Kokxuisi ≠xama IngliciJu/hoan, Ju/johan-Inglici, Windhoeck: Nyae Nyae Development Foundation.
Dicks, A. (2011) Health Promotion in Ink: Grassroots Comics as a Medium for Participatory
Communication in the Khwe community. Masters Research Dissertation, University of KwaZuluNatal, Durban, South Africa. Available at
Diethrich G. (2000) ‘Desi music vibes: the performance of Indian youth culture in Chicago’.
Asian Music 31(1):35-61.
DiMaggio, P. & Mukhtar, T. (2008). Arts participation as cultural capital in the United Staters,
1982-2002. In S. J. Tepper & B. Ivey (Eds.), Engaging Art. The next great transformation of
America’s cultural life pp. 273-306. New York/London: Routledge.
Dolby, N. (2001) Constructing Race: Youth, Identity and Popular culture in South Africa. New
York: Sunny Press.
Douglas, S. (1997). ‘Reflections on State Intervention and the Schmidtsdrift Bushme’. Journal of
Contemporary African Studies 15(1) pp 45-66.
Douglas, S. S. (1996) “…attractions and artillerymen, curiosities and commandos…An
ethnographic study of elites and the politics of cultural distinction”. Unpublished Masters
Dissertation. University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Dyll-Myklebust, L. (forthcoming) Authoethnography and reflexivity: where does the researcher
fit in? In Tomaselli, K.G. (ed.) Making Sense of Research: Theory Practice and ir/relevance
(provisional title), Cape Town: Pearson Education.
Dyson, M.E. (1996) Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture. New
York: Oxford University Press.
Edward Taylor, E. B. (1870) Primitive Culture (7th ed.). Primitive Culture. New York, NY, US:
Epstein, J.S., Pratto, D.J. and Skipper J.K (1990) ‘Teenagers behavioral problems and
preferences for heavy metal and rap music: a case study of a southern middle’, Deviant
Behavior, 11: 381-394
Erlmann, V. (1997) Africa Civilized, Africa Uncivilized: Local Culture, World System and
Africa. In K. Barber (ed.) Readings in African Popular Culture, Indiana: Indiana University
Press, pp170-177.
Etherton, M. (1982) The Development of African Drama. London: Hutchinson.
Everatt, D & Sisulu, F. (1992). Black Youths in Crisis: Facing the Future. Johannesburg: Ravan
Fabian, J (1997) Popular Culture in Africa. In K. Barber (ed.) Readings in African Popular
Culture, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
Fabian, J. and Szombati-Fabian, I. (980) Folk art from an anthropological perspective. In M. G.
Quimby and S. T. Swank (eds.) Perspectives in American Folk Art, New York and London: W.
W. Norton for the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum.
Fenn, J. and PeruIIo, A. (2008) Language choice and hip hop in Tanzania and Malawi. In
Popular Music and Society. London Routledge.
Ferraro, G. (1998) The Cultural Dimension of International Business. 3rd Edition. New Jersey:
Prentice Hall.
Finlay, K. (2009) The Un/changing Face of the ≠≠Khomani: Representation through
Promotional Media. Masters Research Dissertation, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban,
South Africa. Available at
Francois, C. & Schön, D. (2011) ‘Musical Expertise and Statistical Learning of Musical and
Linguistic Structures’. Frontiers in Psychology 2:167-167.
Frankenberg, R. (1993) White women, race matters: The social construction of whiteness,
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Frith, S, (1983) Sound Effect: Youth, Leisure and the Politics of Rock. London: Constable.
Frith, S. and McRobbie, A. (1978) Rock and sexuality. In S. Frith and A. Goodwin (eds.) On
Record: Rock, Pop and the Written Word. London: Routledge.
Frosh, S. (1991) Identity Crisis: Modernity, Psychoanalysis and the Self. London: Macmillan
Education LTD.
Garofalo, R. (1992a) Understanding mega-events: if we are the world, then how do we change
it? In R. Garofalo (ed.) Rockin’ the boat: Mass Music and Mass Movements. Boston, MA: South
End Press.
Garofalo, R. (ed.) (1992b) Rockin’ the Boat: Mass Music and Mass Movements. Bouston, MA:
South End Press
Geertz, C. (1988) Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author. California: Stanford
University Press.
Geertz, C. (1973) The Interpretation of Culture. New York: Basic Books.
Gilroy, P. (1987) The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge:
Harvard University Press, 1993).
Ginwright, S. (2004) Black in School: Afrocentric Reform, Urban Youth, and the Promise of
Hip-hop Culture. New York: Teachers College Press.
Goldberg, G. T. (1993) Racist Culture: Philosophy and the Politics of Meaning. Cambridge:
lackwell Publishers
Goodenough, W. H. (1971) Culture, Language and Society’. London: Addison-Wesley.
Gordon, R. J. & Douglas, S. S. (2000). The Bushman Myth : The Making of a Namibian
Underclass. 2nd ed. Boulder: Oxford: Westview Press.
Gottlieb, J. and Wald, G. (1994) Smells like teen spirit: riot girls, revolution and women, in
independent rock. In A. Ross and T. Rose (eds.) Microphone Friends. Youth, Music and Culture.
London: Routledge.
Grant, J. (2011) Rural Development in Practice? The Experience Of the ‡≠Khomani Bushmen in
the Northern Cape, South Africa. Phd Thesis, Centre of African Studies University Of
Grant, J and Dicks, A. (2014) ‘Perceived Benefits of Freirean And Grassroots Comics
Workshops within Three Bushmen Communities’. Communitas 19: 116-135.
Hall, S. & Jefferson, T. (1976) Resistance through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Postwar
Britain. London: Hutchinson.
Haralambos, M (1985) Sociology: Themes and Perspectives. London: Unwin Hyman Limited.
Harold, C. (2004) Pranking rhetoric: ‘‘Culture jamming’’ as media activism. Critical Studies in
Media Communication, 21, 189–211.
Harris, M. (1968) The Rise of Cultural Theory. New York: Crowell.
Hart, T. (2011) Community Radio: The Beat that Develops the Soul of the People? A case study
of XK FM as a SABC owned community radio station and its role as a facilitator of community
based development. Masters Research Dissertation, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South
Africa. Available at
Haynes, J. and Okome, O. (1998) ‘Evolving Popular Meida: Nigeria Video Films’. Research in
African Literatures 29 (3) 106-117.
Hebdige, D. (1999) The Function Of Subculture In The Cultural Studies Reader. 2nd ed. New
York: Routledge, 441-450.
Hebdige, D. (1988) Hiding in the Light: On Images and Things, London: Routledge.
Hebdige, D (1979) Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Methuen.
Hebdige, D. (1976) The Meaning of Mod. In S. Hall and T. Jefferson (eds.), Resistance Through
Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain, London: Hutchison.
Hebdige, D (1974) Aspects of Style in the Deviant sub-Culture of the 1960’s. Unpublished MA
Thesis, BirminghamUniversity. Available as CCCS Stencilled Paper, Nos. 20, 21, 24 and 25.
Heredia, B. (1997) Prosper or Perish? Development in the age of Global Capital, Journal of
Current History Vol. 96, No 613.
Hosokawa, S. (1984) ‘The Walkman Effect, Popular Music’, 4(4): 165-180.
Hodkinson, P. (2007) Youth Cultures: A critical outline of key debates, In P. Hodkinson and W.
Deicke (eds.) Youth Cultures: Scenes, Subcultures and Tribe. New York: Taylor and Francis, pp.
Hofstede, G. (1991/1994) Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. London: Harper
Collins Business.
Hull, G. (2003) ‘At last. ‘Youth culture and digital media: New literacies for new times’,
Research in the Teaching of English, 38 (2): 229–33.
Hull, G. & Nelson, M. E. (2005) ‘Locating the semiotic power of multimodality’, Written
Communication, 22 (2): 224–61.
Hull, G. & Zacher, J. (2004) ‘What is after-school worth? Developing literacy and identity out of
school’, Voices in Urban Education, 3: 36–44.
Hurst, E. L. (1997) Social inequality: Forms, causes and consequences (6th ed.). Boston,
Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon.
Huq, R. (2007) Resistance or Incorporation? Youth policy making and hip-hop culture. In P.
Hodkinson and W. Deicke (eds.) Youth Cultures: Scenes, Subcultures and Tribes. New York:
Routledge, pp. 79-92.
Irizarry, J. (2009) ‘Representin': Drawing From Hip-Hop and Urban Youth Culture to Inform
Teacher Education’. Education and Urban Society 41: 489-515.
Isaacson, R. (2001) The Healing Land: The Bushmen and the Kalahari Desert. New York:
Grove Press.
Ito, M., Horst, H., Bittanti, M., Boyd, D., Herr-Stephenson, B., Lange, P.G., Pascoe, C.J. &
Robinson, L. (2008) Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the
Digital Youth Project. Chicago: The MacArthur Foundation.
Jagadasan, N. (2013) Representation of the Bushmen in texts: An ‘accurate reality’ or a
‘constructed myth’, a historical and contextual analysis of common conceptions of Bushmen
identity – focusing on the Bushmen communities in Northern Cape, South Africa. Honours Essay,
the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS). Unpublished manuscript copy.
James, D. (1996) ‘I dress in this fashion’: transformations in sotho dress and women's lives in a
Sekhukhuneland village, South Africa in Hendrickson, H (ed) Clothing and Difference:
embodied identities in colonial and post-colonial Africa, Duke University Press.
Jameson, F. (1991) Postmodernism, Or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. London: Duke
University Press.
Jefferson, T. (1976) Cultural Responses of the Teds: the defense of space and status, in S. Hall
and T. Jefferson (eds.) Resistance through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain.
London: Hutchinson.
Jerrentrup, A. (2000) Gothic and dark music: forms and background. World Music 42 (1) 25-50.
Kadish, L. V. (2004) .Reading cereal boxes: Pre-packaging history and indigenous identities. The
Journal of American Popular Culture.
Kahn R & Kellner, D. (2005) ‘Internet Subcultures and Oppositional Politics’. Cultural politics,
Vol 1. No. 1.
Karin, B. (1997) Views of the Field. In K. Barber (ed.) Readings in African Popular Culture,
Indiana: Indiana University Press.
Kellner, D. (1995) Cultural studies, identity and politics between the modern and the
postmodern, London and New York: Routledge.
Kessing, R. M. (1972) ParadigmsLost: the New ethnography and the new linguistics. Southwest
Journal of Anthropology 28: 299-332.
Kessing R. (1974) ‘Theories of Culture’. Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 3, pp. 73-97.
Keyes, C.L. (1991) Rappin’ to the beat: rap music as street culture among African Americans.
Doctoral thesis, Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International.
Kilian-Hatz, C. and Matthias Brenzinger, M. (2003) The Khwe Dictionary. Michigan: Koppe
Kitwana, B. (2002) The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and Crisis in African American
Culture. New York: BasicCivitas Books.
Klay, G. (2008) Africa and the New Globalisation. England: Ashgate.
drift_case_study.pdf. Downloaded 24th September, 2014.
Kress, G. 2003. Literacy in the New Media Age. London: Routledge.
Kress, G & Van-Leeuwen, T. (2001). Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London:
Kroeber AL, Kluckhohn C (1952) Culture: A critical review of concepts and definitions.
Kruse, H.C. (2009) Local independent music scenes and the implications of the internet. In
Johansson, O. and Bell, T.L. (eds.) Sound, society and the geography of popular music, Ashgate:
Aldershot, pp. 205-217.
Kulchyski, P. (1997) ‘From Appropriation to Subversion: Aboriginal Cultural Production in the
Age of Postmodernism’, American Indian Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 605-620.
LaCapra, D. (1994) Representing the Holocaust. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
LaCapra, D. (1985) History and Criticism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
LaCapra, D. (1989) Soundings in Critical Theory. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Lang, C. (2000) ‘The new global and urban order: legacies for the “Hip-Hop Generation”’. Race
& Society 3, 111–142.
Lang, P. (2007) The Griqua Conundrum Political and Socio-Cultural Identity in the Northern
Cape, South Africa. Oxford: Peter Lange Publishers.
Le Roux, W. (1999) Torn Apart San Children as change agents in a process of Acculturation. A
report on the educational situation of San children in southern Africa. COmmisioned by Kuru
Development Trust and WIMSA (Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa).
Lee, R. (1979) The !Kung San: Men, women and work in a foraging society. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Leis, P.E. (1972) Enculturation and Socialization in an Ijaw Village. New York: Holt, Rinehart
and Winston Inc.
Levi-Strauss, C. (1966) The Savage Mind. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
Leys, C. (1983) Politics in Britain: An Introduction. London: Verso.
Lim, K., Heiby, E., Brislin, R. & Griffin, B. (2002) ‘The development of the Khmer
acculturation scale’, International Journal of Intercultural Relations 26, 653–678.
Representations’, College Literature, Vol. 19/20, No. 3/1, pp. 100-120.
Lipsitz, G. (1994a) Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism and the poetics of
place. London: Verso.
Theories Accessed on 5 November, 2014.
Livingstone, S. (2002) Young People and New Media. London: Sage.
Livingstone, S. & Das, R. (2010) Media and Family Report.
Lutz, H. (1990) ‘Cultural Appropriation as a Process of Displacing People’s and History’. The
Canadian Journal of Native Studies X, 2:167-182.
MacDonald, R. (1997) Dangerous Youths and Dangerous Class. In R. Macdonald (ed.) Youth:
The Underclass and Social Expression, London: Routledge.
MacWhite, E. (1954) ‘Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions Anthropos, 49,
pp. 718-720.
MacRae, R. (2007) ‘Insider’ and ‘outsider’ issues in youth research , In P. Hodkinson and W.
Deicke (eds.) Youth Cultures: Scenes, Subcultures and Tribe. New York: Taylor and Francis, pp.
Mafeje, A. (ed.) (1992) In Search of an Alternative: A Collection of Essays on Revolutionary
Theories. Harare: Sapes
Malinoski, B. (1945) The Dynamics of Culture Change: An enquiry into race relations in Africa,
Yale University Press.
Mano, W. (2009) Re-Conceptualizing Media Studies in Africa. In D. Thussa (ed.)
Internationalizing Media Studies. London and New York: Routledge.
Marcus, G. and Fischer, M. (1986) Anthropology as cultural critique: An experimental moment
in the human Sciences. University of Chicago Press.
Marx, K. (1970) The German Ideology. Lawrence and Wishart.
Marx, K. (1951) The Eighteenth Brumaire. In Marx-Engels Selected Works, Vol.1. Lawrence
and Wishart.
Maquet, J. (1971) Introduction to Aesthetic Anthropology. Reading: Addison-Wesley.
Massy, D. & Jess, P, (1995) The Shape of the World: Explorations in Human Geography, Vol. 4
ed. Massy and Jess. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mboti, N. (2014) ‘To exhibit or be exhibited: the visual art of Vetkat Regopstaan Boesman
Kruiper’, Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies, 28:3, 472-492.
McAnany, E. (2003) ‘Globalization and the media: the Debate Continues’, Communication
Research Trends 21, no 4, 3-19.
McCall, R. B. (1990). Ethical considerations of psychologists working in the media. In C. B.
Fisher & W. W. Tryon (Eds.) Ethics in applied developmental psychology: Emerging issues in
an emerging field. Vol. 4. Annual advances in applied developmental psychology. Norwood, NJ:
Ablex Publishing Corporation.
McChesney (2003) The Global Restructuring of Media Ownership. In M. Raboy (ed.) Global
Media Politics in New Millenium. Luton: University of Luton. Pp. 149-152.
McLeod, K. (1999)’ Authenticity within hip-hop and other cultures threatened with
assimilation’. International Communication Association.
McLuhan, M. (1964) Understanding Media: The Extension of Man. Routledge.
McQuail, D. (2010) McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory, 6th Edition. Los-Angeles: SAGE
Publications Ltd.
McRobbie, A. (1994) Postmodernism and Popular Culture. London: Routledge.
McRobbie, A. and Garber, J. (1976) Girls and subcultures: an exploration. In S. Hall and T.
Jefferson, (eds.) Resistance through Rituals: Youth Subcultures in Postwar Britain. London:
Merriam, S.B. (2009) Qualitative research: a guide to design and implementation. Market
Street, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Merton, R. (1938) ‘Social Structure and Anomie’, American Sociological Review, 3: 672-682.
Mhlambi, T. (2004) ‘Kwaitofabulous’: The study of South African Urban Genre’. Journal of
Musical Arts in Africa, 116-127.
Mhlanga, B (2009). ‘The Community in Community Radio: A Case Study of XK FM,
Interrogating Issues of Community Participation, Governance, and Control’. African Journalism
Studies Volume 30 (1); University of Wisconsin; USA; pp 58-72.
Mhlanga, B. (2010). The ethnic imperative: community radio as dialogic and participatory and
the case study of XK FM. In Nathalie Hyde-Clarke (ed.) The citizen in Communication:
Revisting traditional, new and community practices in South Africa. Cape Town: Juta,
Claremont, pp 155-78.
Mikhail, B. (1981) The Dialogic Imagination. United States: UT Press.
Miles A. 2000. ‘Poor adolescent girls and social transformations in Cuenca, Ecuador’. Ethos
Miller, D. (1997) Modernity, An Ethnographic Approach: Dualism and Mass Consumption in
Trinidad. Oxford and New York: Berg.
Milovanov, R. & Tervaniemi, M. (2011) ‘The Interplay between Musical and Linguistic
Aptitudes’: A Review Frontiers in Psychology 2. 321.
Miranda, D. & Claes, M. (2004) ‘Rap Music Genres and Deviant Behaviours in FrenchCanadian Adolescents’. Journal of Youths and Adolescence 33 (2): 113-122.
Mizrach, S. (2006)Iterative Discourse and the formation of youth subculture. Accessed on November 25, 2014.
Monaheng, T (2014), the state of African Hip-hop in 2014, Accessed on 5 November, 2014.
Morley, D. (2006) Globalization and Cultural Imperialism Reconsidered: Old Questions in New
Guises. In J. Curran and D. Morley (eds.) Media and Cultural Theories, London: Routledge.
Motley, C. and Henderson, G. (2008) ‘The global hip-hop Diaspora: Understanding the culture’.
Journal of Business Research 61 (2008) 243–253.
Muggleton, David (2000) Inside Subculture. Oxford: Berg
Murdock, G. (1973) Culture and Classlessness: the Making and Unmaking of a Contemporary
Myth. Paper delivered to Symposium on Work and Leisure, University of Salford.
Murray, B. (2002) ‘Psychology tackles apartheid’s aftermath’. Monitor on Psychology, 50-51.
Murray, S. (2004) Language issues in South African education: an overview In R. Mesthrie (ed.)
Language in South Africa. Ambridge:Cambridge University Press. Pp. 434-448
Nixon, R. (1994) Homelands, Harlem and Hollywood: South African Culture and the World
beyond. New York: Routledge.
Nuttall, S. (2004) Stylizing the self: The Y Generation in Rosebank, Johannesburg. In A,
Mbembe and S, Nuttal (guest eds.), Public Culture: Society for Transnational Cultural Studies
(Johannesburg: The Elusive Metropolis), Fall 2004, 16 (3), 430-453. Duke Press.
O’Brien, D. (1996) A Lost Generation? Youth Identity and State Decay in West Africa. In PostColonial Identities in West Africa. Ed. Richard Werbner and Terrence Ranger. London: Zed
Omoniyi, T. (2006) ‘Hip-hop through the world Englishes lens: a response to globalization’.
World Englishes, Vol. 25, No.2, pp. 195–208.
Ono, K. A., & Buescher, D. T. (2001) ‘Deciphering Pocahontas: Unpackaging the
commodification of a Native American woman’. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 18,
Osterhammel, J. & Peterson, N. P. (2005) Globalisation: A short history. Princeton NJ:
Princeton University Press.
Osumare, H. (2001) ‘Beat streets in the global hood: connective marginalities of the hip hop
globe’. Journal of American Comtemporary Culture 2. pp.171–81.
Park, R. E. (1925) The City, Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Parsons, T. (1949) 'Age and Sex in the Social Structure of the United States. In T. Parsons (ed.)
Essays in Sociological Theories, New York: Free Press.
Patel, D. (2008) Music, Language and the Brain. Oxford Oxford University Press
Patel, A. D. &Iversen, J. R. (2007) ‘The Linguistic Benefits of Musical Abilities’. Trends in
Cognitive Sciences 11 (9):369-372.
Patton, M.Q. (2002) Qualitative research and evaluation methods, 3rd edition. Thousand
Oaks, California: Sage.
Paul- Hanebrin, I.; Kulterer, J.; Smahel, D. and Kontrikova, V. (2014) On the Role of Media in
Socially Disadvantaged Families. In N. Carpentier, K.C. Schroder & L. Hallet (eds). Audience
Transformation: Shifting Audience Positions in Late Modernity, NewYork: Routledge. pp. 6571.
Pearson, J. (1973) The Profession of Violence. London: Panther
Peräkylä, A. and Ruusuvuori, J. (2013) Analyzing Talk and Text. In Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln,
Y.S. (eds.), Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage: 277308.
Perullo, A. (2005) Hooligans and Heroes: Youth Identity and Hip-hop in Da es Salaam,
Tanzania, Indiana University Press.
Perullo, A. and Fenn, J. (2003). Language Ideologies, Choices, and Practices in Eastern African
Hip Hop. In H. M. Burger and M. T. Carroll (Eds.), Global Pop, Local Language. Pp 19-52.
Jackson: University Press of Missippi.
Petersen I. A., Bhana A. B., McKayc, M. (2005) ‘Sexual violence and youth in South Africa:
The need for community-based prevention interventions’ Child Abuse & Neglect 29, 1233–1248
Pinn A. B. (2014) ‘God wears Tom Ford: Hip hop’s revisioning of divine authority’ Media
Development 4, pp. 20-23.
Price, S. (1989) Primitive Art in Civilized Places. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Purhonen, S., Gronow, J. and Rahkonen, K. (2009) ‘Highbrow culture in Finland: Knowledge,
taste and participation’. Acta Sociologica 54(4), 385–402.
Putkinen, V., Saarikivi, K. & Tervaniemi, M. (2012) ‘Do Informal Musical Activities Shape
Auditory Skill Development in Preschool-Age Children?’ Frontiers in Psychology 4:572-572.
Radway, J. (1984) Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature. Chapel
Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Richard, V. (2002) The Tension in the Beautiful: On Culture and Civilisation in Rousseau: In
Philosophy and Culture in Question. The University of Chicago Press, pp 11-31.
Robbins, D. (2004) A San Journey: The story of the !Xun and Khwe of Platfontein, Kimberley,
South Africa: The Sol Plaaitje Educational Trust.
Roccor, B. (2000) ‘Heavy metal: forces of unification and fragmentation within a musical
subculture’. World Music 42 (1) 83-94.
Rodriquez, J. (2006) ‘Color-Blind Ideology and the Cultural Appropriation of Hip-Hop’, Journal
of Contemporary Ethnography 35 (6).
Rogers, R. (2006) ‘From Cultural Exchange to Transculturation: A Review and
Reconceptualization of Cultural Appropriation’, Communication Theory 16, 474–503.
Rosenberg, S. (2002) ‘Youths Popular Culture and Identity: American influences on South
Africa and Lesotho’, The Journal of South African and American Comparative Studies, 9.
Rosenblatt, P. (1997) ‘The antisocial skin: structure, resistance and “modern primitive”
adornment in the United States’. Cul. Anthropo. 12 (3) 287-334.
Rupert Isaacso, R. (2001) The Healing Land: A Kalahari Journey, London: Fourth Estate
Rutherford, J. (1997) ‘Young Britain’, Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture, 6: 112-125
Sahlins, M. (1995) ‘How Natives Think, About Captain Cook’, American Indian Quarterly, Vol.
21, No. 4.
Salawu, A. (2010) ‘A network of tongues: African languages, multilingualism and global
communication’. South African Journal of African Languages, 30: 1, 66-71.
Salawu, A. (ed.) (2006) Indigenous Language Media in Africa. Lagos: Centre for Black and
African Arts and Civilization.
Salawu, A. (2003) Globalisation, multilingualism and indigenous languages in the media. In L.
Oso (ed.) Community media: Voices of the oppressed, edAbeokuta: Jedidiah Publishers, 83-94.
Schein, E. (1984) ‘Coming to a new awareness of organizational culture’. Sloan Management
Review 25(2): 3–16.
Schutz, A. (1976) Collected Papers II: Studies in Social Theories (4th ed.) A. Brodersen (ed.),
The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
Sciorra, J. (2011) The Mediascape of Hip-Wop: Alterity and Authenticity in Italian American
Rap, In Global Media, Culture and Identity: Theory, Cases and Approaches ed. Chopra R. C &
Gajjala, New York: Routledge.
Shivji, I. (2006). ‘The Silences in the NGO Discourse: The Role and Future of NGOs’, African
Development, XXXI (4), 22-51.
Shugart, H. A. (1997) ‘Counterhegemonic acts: Appropriation as a feminist rhetorical strategy’.
Quarterly Journal of Speech, 83, 210–229.
Silverstone, R. (1994) Television and everyday Life. London: Routledge.
Smith, R. (2011) Youth Media and Lifestyles: An Audience Study on Media (Television)
Consumption and Lifestyles Of Black Youths Living In Durban and Alice, South Africa. PhD
Available at
Spencer-Oatey, H. (2012) What is culture? A compilation of quotations. Global Pad Core.
Sponsler, C (2002) ‘In Transit: 'Theorizing Cultural Appropriation in Medieval Europe’, Journal
of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 32:1.
Spradley, J. P. (1970) You Owe Yourself a Drunk: An Ethnography of Urban Nomads. Booston:
Little, Brown.
Spradley, J. P. (1972) Foundations of Cultural Knowledge. In Culture and Cognitive: Rules,
Maps and Plans ed. J.P. Spradley, 3-40. San Francisco: Chandler.
Sreberny-Mohammadi, A. (1997) The Many Faces of Imperialism, In P. Golding and P. Harris
(eds.) Beyond Cultural Imperialism: Globalization, Communication and the New International
Order, London: Sage, 49-68.
Steinberg, L. (2001) ‘We know some things: Parent-adolescent relationships’. Journal of
Research on Adolescence, 11(1), 1-19.
Steiner, C. B. (1994) African Art in Transit. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Strelitz L. (2005) Mixed Reception: South African Youth and their Experiences of Global Media.
Pretoria: UNISA Press.
Swart, H. (2004) “Background and History of the !Xun and Khwe San Communities: A History
of Relocation. (The Schmidtsdrift Chapter and the Platfontein Chapter)”. Notes by the erstwhile
manager of the !Xun and Khwe CPA at Platfontein.
Taylor, C. & Taylor, V. (2007) ‘Hip Hop is Now: An Evolving Youth Culture’. Reclaiming
children and youth 15:4 winter pp. 210-213.
Thompson, R. (1995) The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media. Stanford
University Press.
Thornton, S. (1995) Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Cambridge: Polity
Thrasher, F. (1927) The Gang, Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Thussa, D. (2009) Internationalizing Media Studies. London and New York: Routledge
Tierney, A. & Kraus, N. (2013) Music training for the development of reading skills. Prog.
Brain Res. 207:209-41.
Tittley, M. (2000) A new approach to Youth Subculture Theory, the Youth Ministry Resourcer. (Accessed on November 25, 2014).
Tomaselli, K.G. (ed.) (2012) Cultural Tourism and Identity: Rethinking Indigeneity.
Netherlands: Brill.
Tomaselli, K. G.; Dyll, L. and Francis, M. (2008) 'Self' and 'Other': Auto-Reflexive and
Indigenous Ethnography. In Denzin, N., Lincoln, Y. and Tuhiwai Smith, L. (eds), Handbook of
Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, 347–372. London: Sage.
Tomaselli, K. G. (2007) Writing in the Sand: Autoethnography Among Indigenous Southern
Africans. California: Altamira Press.
Tomaselli, K. G. (2006) Encountering Modernity: Twentieth Century South African Cinemas.
Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam: Rozenberg UNISA Press.
Tomaselli, K. G. (2005) Where Global Contradictions are Sharpest: Research Stories from the
Kalahari. SAVUSA.
Tomaselli, K. G. (2003) ‘San (Bushmen) Art and Tourism: self-reflexive methodologies’, Media
Journal No 2.
Tomaselli, K. G. (2001) ‘Blue is hot, red is cold: Doing reverse cultural studies in Africa’.
Critical Methodologies 1: 283--318
Tomaselli, K. G. (1996) Appropriating Images:the Semiotics of Visual Representation, Aurhus:
Intervention Press.
Tomlinson (1991) Cultural Imperialism: A Critical Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
Torgovnick, M. (1996) Primitive passions: Men, women, and the quest for ecstasy. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Uys, J. (1980) The Gods Must Be Crazy. (film). Johannesburg: Mimosa Films.
Van Eijck, K. and Knulst, W. (2005) ‘No more need for snobbism: Highbrow cultural
participation in a taste democracy’. European Sociological Review 21: 513-528.
Van der Post, L. 1977. The lost world of the Kalahari. London: Harvest/HBJ.
Vittadini, N.; Siibak A.; Reifova, I. & Bilandzic, H. (2014) The Social Construction of
Generational Identity and Differences. In N. Carpentier, K.C. Schroder & L. Hallet (eds).
Audience Transformation: Shifting Audience Positions in Late Modernity. NewYork: Routledge.
pp. 65-71.
Warren, A. & Evitt, R. (2010) ‘Indigenous Hip-hop: overcoming marginality, encountering
constraints’, Australian Geographer, 41:1, 141-158.
Wasserman, H. & Rao, S. (2008) ‘The glocalization of journalism ethics’. Journalism: Theory,
Practice, Criticism 9(2):163-181
Waterman C. A. (1997) Our Tradition is a Modern Tradition: Popular Music and the
Construction of Pan-Yoruba Identity. In K. Barber (ed.) Readings in African Popular Culture,
Indiana: Indiana University Press, pp. 48-53.
Willis, P. (1978) Profane Culture, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Webb, P. (2007) Hip-hop’s musicians and audiences in the local musical ‘milieu’. In P.
Hodkinson and W. Deicke (eds.) Youth Cultures: Scenes, Subcultures and Tribes. New York:
Routledge, pp. 173-185.
White, H. 1995. In the Tradition of the Forefathers: Bushman Traditionality at Kagga Kamma.
Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press.
Whitt, L. A. (1995) ‘Cultural imperialism and the marketing of Native America’. American
Indian Culture and Research Journal, 19(3), 1–31.
Whyte, W. F. (1943) Street Corner Society: The Social Structure of an Italian Slum, Chicago:
Chicago University Press.
Willmott, P. (1969) Adolescent Boys of East London. Penguin
Wilmsen, E. N. (1989) Land Filled with Flies: A Political Economy of the Kalahari. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Wilson, M (2011) ‘Making space, pushing time: A Sudanese hip-hop group and their wardroberecording studio’, International Journal of Cultural Studies 15(1) 47–64.
Appendix A
Interview Questions (Youths)
(Note: Questions are semi-structured, in-depth and flexible)
How and where did you learn about hip-hop?
Do you watch or listen to hip-hop music and news?
Do you prefer hip-hop to other genres of music? If yes why?
What new media technologies do they have access to?
Do you have hip-hop heroes or idols?
When did you first come in contact with hip-hop?
What kinds of festival do you have in Khwe community
Do you participate in any of this festival (e.g. l music, dance etc.?
What do you think of indigenous activities such as Bushman festival, dance music and
Which do you prefer; hip-hop or traditional music?
Appendix B
Interview Questions (Adults)
(Note: Questions are semi-structured, in-depth and flexible)
What do you know about hip-hop?
If yes, how, where and when did you learn about hip-hop?
Where do you think the youths learn hip-hop?
Why do you think Khwe youths are delving into hip-hop music?
Do you think contribute to the popularity of hip-hop culture among Khwe youths?
What efforts are made to promote indigenous genres of music?
Does this prevent them from participating in indigenous or cultural activities?
What do you think of the indigenous music in comparison to hip-hop?
Appendix C
Focus group Questions (Youth Subculture)
How and where did you learn about hip-hop?
What media exposes you to hip-hop music and news?
Do you prefer hip-hop to other genres of music? If yes why?
What do you think of new media technologies (Satellite TV, internet, Facebook, emails
What new media technologies do you have access to?
Do you participate in local music, dance or festival?
What do you think of indigenous activities such as Bushman festival, dance music and
Which do you prefer; hip-hop or Bushman music?
Appendix D
Focus group Questions (Adults)
Do you know what is called hip-hop?
If yes, how, where and when did you learn about hip-hop?
Where do you think the youths learn hip-hop?
Why do you think Khwe youths are delving into hip-hop music?
What do you think of new media technologies (Satellite TV, internet, Facebook, emails
Do you think new media technologies contribute to the appropriation of hip-hop by Khwe
What new media technologies do they have access to?
Are there efforts made to promote indigenous genres of music culture?
Does the influence of hip-hop prevent them from participating in indigenous or cultural
What do you think of the indigenous music in comparison to hip-hop?
Appendix E
Informed Consent Form
TOPIC: The Emergence of Hip-Hop Subculture among the Khwe Bushmen of Platfontein, Northern
Cape, South Africa
Letter of invitation to participate in the study
Dear Sir/Madam
My name is Itunu Bodunrin, I am collecting data to complete a study on youths in Khwe community. The
study is conducted under the supervision of University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Culture and Media in
society (CCMS). I am writing to request your participation. The aim of the study is to investigate the impact
of new media technologies in the lives of the Bushmen of the Khwe community.This will contribute to the
discourse on the impact of new media technologies in indigenous societies; a reminder that global cultural
forms are taken up in diverse ways in local contexts.
Participation in this study is voluntary. The data will be kept securely for five years for purposes of
Should you request it, an electronic copy of the final thesis will be sent to you on completion.
Your willingness to participate in this study will greatly be appreciated.
Details of the researcher and institution of research:
Mr. Itunu Bodunrin
Centre for Culture and
[email protected]
Media in Society
University of KwaZulu-
Howard College Campus,
Natal (UKZN)
Masizi Kunene Ave,
Glenwood, Durban,
South Africa.
Prof Ruth Teer-
[email protected]
Dr Shenuka Singh
[email protected]
Ms P. Ximba
[email protected]
Chair, UKZN Human
Sciences Research
Committee Clerk, UKZN
Human Sciences Research
Please do not hesitate to contact any of the above persons, should you want further information on this
research, or should you want to discuss any aspect of the interview process.
Signed consent
I understand that the purpose of this interview is for solely academic
purpose. The findings will be published as a thesis, and may be published
I understand my name will be quoted. (Please choose whether or not Yes
you would prefer to have your remarks attributed to yourself in the final
in academic journals.
I understand I may choose to remain anonymous. (Please choose
whether or not you would like to remain anonymous.)
research documents.)
I understand that I will not be paid for participating but a souvenir will be Yes
I understand that I reserve the right to discontinue and withdraw my Yes
participation any time.
I consent to be frank to give the information.
I understand I will not be coerced into commenting on issues against my Yes
will, and that I may decline to answer specific questions.
I understand I reserve the right to schedule the time and location of the Yes
* By signing this form, I consent that I have duly read and understood its content.
Name of Participant
Name of Researcher

Similar documents