Interview: Hip hop Music in Africa

Collaboration? Even though I already have one in the bag with Dan Masika of 125 I want to record another song with him. I’d also want to record with Chris Adwar at some point. I like his songwriting. More songs with Dambwe la Hip Hop – they are my Tanzanian brothers who inspire me!

NAIROBI, Kenya, January 13, 2020/-- A teacher and an astute historian, Monaja briefly delves into Hip hop music in the continent and his personal journey as an artist bridging the underground and mainstream gap.

We also touch on Pan-Africanism, social media and Social Justice...

[Question 1] Welcome to Wazo Moja Kikao. Who is Monaja?

Just a human being from East Africa who has imbibed cultural influences from his environment and who loves history, rap and song.

[Question 2] As a Historian and a Teacher; give us your perspective of Hip hop Music in Africa?

Well, I’d say it really took root in the continent in the early to mid-nineties when globalization, rather westernization, was growing in leaps and bounds. Some youth imitated, others redefined and recreated to serve their local context. In Kenya and Tanzania, artists like Kalamashaka, K-south and Sugu a.k.a Mr. II used it to speak to the political problems that youth in their countries faced. Hip Hop became a vessel for youth political expression as most of the other spaces were already taken up by old people – men in particular.

[Question 3] You exude Pan-African ethos in your work, why?

Once you understand your position in the world as a black person – and particularly as an African – the pragmatic thing to do is to embrace yourself and your own. We’ve faced plenty – slavery, colonialism, discrimination, profiling, killings, neo-colonialism. All of these meted out by a system which favours other races – white, brown. Don’t get me wrong though, some members from other races also experience oppression. But in terms of bearing the brunt of oppression, as a group no one comes at a sniffing distance to what black people have experienced and continue to experience in this world. So the pragmatic calculation is that the unity of our own would elevate us and improve the welfare of the “wretched of the earth’ as Franz Fanon called us. But there are grey areas of course – you can't ally yourself to black people who oppress their own in the name of pan-africanism, doing that would be empty identity politics.

[Question 4] What or Who is your greatest inspiration? Do you have possible collaboration in mind?

I don’t really think I can rank my inspirations in a particular order. Everyday experiences inspire me. Different people inspire me – from those who I like listening to like Kalamashaka, Nas, Alicia keys to people who I know or come across daily.

Collaboration? Even though I already have one in the bag with Dan Masika of 125 I want to record another song with him. I’d also want to record with Chris Adwar at some point. I like his songwriting. More songs with Dambwe la Hip Hop – they are my Tanzanian brothers who inspire me!

[Question 5] You are an avid user of social media; how has it impacted your work and what possibilities does it offer to other creatives?

Well, I have grown my listenership, I have sold my music online and I have also got a number of ideas that I have later built upon from my interactions on social media. Creatives can benefit from the same by use of social media.

[Question 6] Monaja never cows from political debates and the issue of Social Justice reforms. Why?

Reform or revolution, I’m for whatever I consider politically sound that can be done to uplift oppressed people in the world.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t – whether one “cows” or not from such debates, they’ll – actually we’ll - still be affected by political problems. Hence…

[Question 7] What are your plans for this decade?

Yawa! I really don’t have a 10-year-plan at this point; it’s barely the start of the decade. Previously I used to focus on the long stretches of time, now short-term goals get the lion share of my attention. I want to finish recording my album by March this year and begin recording another album soon. I also want to release two or so tapes as well. I want to write more, read more, learn more, do more and maybe repeat the same for 10 years?

The written interview was compiled by Phineahs Munene, Cofounder of Wazo Moja for Monaja of TemaImba Music.

Distributed by Wazo Moja on behalf of TemaImba Music

SOURCE

TemaImba Music