Black Atlantic Identity Politics

Two years later, Barack Obama's election as US President still influence cultural production on the continent.

US President Barack Obama in May 2010. Image: Wiki Commons.

Today, Nigeria celebrates 50 years of independence. To mark the occasion, we bring you Nigerian-British rapper JJC’s collaboration with Ghanaian-British rapper Sway, and their remix of a song that editor, Sean Jacobs, recently characterized as “hip hop meets twenty first century Black Atlantic identity politics.”

It’s been a big year for this kind of politics in Africa, what with the 2010 World Cup and 17 of the continent’s countries marking 50 years of independence. Mix that with Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” sloganeering, and it is taken to new levels: whether it’s coming from JJC and Sway or from the great Congolese (Brazza)-French group, Bisso na Bisso, here with 2009’s “Show Ce Soir“—aka Yes We Can (Version rap Congolais).

Of course, not everyone is finding reason to partake in these celebrations. And so, for our Francophone readers (do we have any?), we bring you this clip from Ivoirian comic Gbi de Fer’s “Heure de Vérité” (Hour of Truth). In it, he asks what exactly Côte d’Ivoire has to celebrate (hunger? unemployment? war?) and wonders, among other things, how those who don’t have electricity are supposed to watch the extravagant 50th anniversary ceremony. He calls instead for commemoration and a national hour of reflection—literally, “mourning”—for Ivoirians to take stock of where their country is. Real talk, or as some would say, c’est ça qui est la vérité?

You be the judge.

  • Also recommended is this round-up of eight Nigerian writers’ thoughts on Nigeria’s 50 years of independence, including some from writer Teju Cole.

Further Reading

Film Review: “The Education of Auma Obama”

Republican party propaganda wants to paint President Barack Obama's Kenyan family as alien to America. In this propaganda, Barack Hussein Obama Snr and the old man's supposed "anti-colonial" and left-wing biases. In this propaganda Kenyans are reduced to anti-American zealots. Yet the strongest impression one gets from the Obama family in Branwen Okpako's beautiful, and substantive documentary of Obama's half sister, Auma Obama, is how familiar and American (i.e. the values Republicans proffer of hard work and guile) the Obamas are.