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CCS & Critical Times, Critical Race Project: Seminar Six: “Half Man, Half Amazing”- The Gift of Nasir Jones’ Music to African Collective Identity

In most South African universities, African philosophers and thinkers are pushed to the flanks of contemporary thought and practice. The few that make cameo appearances in course outlines, often occupy the soft world of culture, not political economy, science, philosophy, law, history, etc. This Seminar Series reverses this Hegelian doubt (to wit, whether Africa has a history) and imbalance by familiarizing the world with the most palpable, original inspiring contributions of African thinkers to contemporary debates, agendas and practices. It is a vibrant platform for scholars to present how insights from African thinkers have shaped their own thinking and practice. Our focus is global Africa, therefore, contributions will include key thinkers from the fractured African Diaspora who were displaced by slavery, colonialism, and globalization.

Seminar Six: “Half Man, Half Amazing”- The Gift of Nasir Jones’ Music to African Collective Identity

Speaker: Danford Chibvongodze
Date: Thursday 11 October 2018
Time: 13:00-14:00
Venue: CCS Seminar Room A726, Level 7, Shepstone, Howard College, UKZN
Facilitator: Dr Mvu Ngcoya

Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones is arguably one of the greatest artists to ever grace the stage of hip hop music. His debut album Illmatic, is often described by rap critics as an earliest form of brilliant lyricism and storytelling in the hip hop genre. Unsurprisingly, Nasir’s musical work has attracted the attention of cultural and geographical scholars who have relied on his lyrics to understand the lived experiences and identities of blacks residing in the inner cities of America. What is also fascinating is how through his vivid raps, Nasir has managed to critically capture and interrogate the realities of the African continent, mirroring it back to his own experiences of America. In this seminar, I intend to use Nasir’s lyrics from his extensive body of work as a prism through which I analyse the possible usefulness of hip hop music in obliterating the geo-cultural and identity divide existing among black Africans and the black diaspora particularly African-Americans. I will further argue that the hip hop genre acts as an important site for the reproduction of a collective pan African identity among Africans and the diaspora. To this end, I assert that hip-hop music is a significant unifier that has potential to mend the fractured relations between Africans and their diaspora counterparts.

Speaker Bio:
Danford Chibvongodze is a Researcher at the Centre for Civil Society at UKZN. He is currently working on a project titled “#Bring Back Our Land”: Interrogating the Intersectionality of Student Activism, Black Radical Tradition and Land Expropriation in South Africa. His research interests lie within issues relating to identity, space, the body, land and race relations. In his spare time, Danford listens to 90s hip hop. He considers Nasir Jones and Christopher Wallace as the best rappers to ever grab the mic.

 Other seminar programmes
 WISER Seminar Series 
 UKZN History Seminar Series 
 The Wolpe Trust 

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