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Music: Rap against repression

Posted on Wednesday, 31 October 2018 10:38

His politically-charged songs chime across Facebook and the Youth Parliament, denouncing corruption and high living costs. André Cardoso, a.k.a. Rap Face, launched his career in 2006 and by 2008 had assumed the role of spokesman for those oppressed by the Mozambique political system.

Despite socially engaged rap’s ­ascent to the global mainstream, in Mozambique the life of a musician is hard. “The barriers are many,” Rap Face says. “Some of our fellow citizens regard ‘art from the streets’ as self-flagellation, futile and useless. There is serious censorship in the media for those who side in favour of good governance. Being socially conscious attracts political persecution and can end in torture or death,” he adds.

Our motto is to push women to fight for their rights and dreams by installing a revolutionary spirit

Following the arrest and torture of Ericino de Salema in March 2018, and 10 high-profile killings in the previous three years, Human Rights Watch said the routine intimidation of activists had ‘created an atmosphere of fear’.

“My family is against my position as an artist, but my rap, besides raising awareness of active citizenship, is what helps me survive,” Rap Face says.

Another rapper, as well as a poet and spoken-word artist, Énia Lipanga is a member of the group Revolução Feminina. Her work is informed by her own experience: as a pregnant teenager she was taken out of school and was forced to catch up on her education alone during the long nights.

“My group and I formed to fight against harassment, to convey messages of respect and recognition for female artists,” she presses. Not an easy task, according to Lipanga, who says cultural customs and norms that curtail the powers of girls and women still resonate louder than the music.

But her efforts are paying off. Lipanga participates in activities organised by Forum Mulher (Female Forum), which advocates for women’s rights. And in September she represented her country at the Meeting of Poets of the CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language Countries). “Our motto is to push women to fight for their rights and dreams by installing a revolutionary spirit,” she says.

This article first appeared in the October 2018 print edition of The Africa Report magazine

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