UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Reclaiming our subjugated truths : using hip-hop as a form of decolonizing public pedagogy, the case of Didier Awadi Da Sylva, Joanna Daguirane


When walking through the streets of Dakar, hip-hop makes its way through the radios of the city. Hip-hop has been a prominent and influential music genre and culture in Senegal since the 1980s. Hip-hop music has been used by Senegalese to cover the social, economic and political life of the country, and to promote political activism among the youth. Rapping was not born in a vacuum in Senegal but subtly continues the long-standing tradition of storytelling through spoken words and music, griotism. Moving away from hip-hop stereotypes, defined by critics as violent, racist, homophobic, sexist, materialistic, misogynistic and vulgar, my case study focuses on critical and conscious Senegalese hip-hop, which embraces hip-hop social and educational movements utilized to voice societal injustice and challenge the status quo. Senegalese hip-hop is a platform for political activists to denounce institutional racism, Western domination, poverty, and national corruption, with the hope of contributing to a better and just society that recognizes and legitimizes knowledges and voices of formerly colonized Africans. Didier Awadi is one of the most talented, conscientious, influential and revolutionary hip-hop artists and political activists of the continent. His motivation stands in the Burkinabé revolutionary Thomas Sankara, who became an icon for his statement: “dare to invent the future,” the motto for Didier Awadi’s record company Studio Sankara. In 2010, after five years of research, Didier Awadi released his ambitious multidisciplinary project Présidents d’Afrique to recount Africa’s political history and honor the founding fathers of Pan-Africanism, influential thinkers and scholars from Africa and the Diaspora. His timeless album Présidents d’Afrique uses hip-hop as a form of decolonization and public pedagogy that renders the contributions of Pan-African leaders visible to Africa and the world, contributions that have been continuously omitted, ignored, and vilified by mainstream History.

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