The typical student in my contemporary African politics course has never been to an African country. Because most attended public high schools in the U.S., their impressions of Africa reflect Western media’s often negative portrayals of life and politics on the continent.
Music is one tool I use to push against stereotypes and open up students’ images of and imaginations for the African countries and peoples we study.
Today’s Good Playlist is a series of music videos that I play in my African politics courses. Some are relatively new hits that students might recognize as TikTok sounds, like Ghanaian-American artist Amaarae’s “SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY.” I also include classics – like the father of Afrobeats Fela Kuti’s “Zombie,” which gives a window onto everyday life under military dictatorship.
The playlist has absolute bangers – like Baloji’s “Le Jour d’Après / Siku ya Baadaye (Indépendence Cha Cha)” and Buraka Som Sistema’s “Sound of Kuduro.” There are also music videos that I’m sure my students think are “cringe” – like the 2011 anthem encouraging Sudanese to vote in the South Sudan independence referendum.
Many of these I accumulated over the years through listening to Afropop Worldwide and reading/hearing recommendations from Boima Tucker at Africa Is a Country. My list evolves – so please share any recommendations you have in the comments.
Do you have a good playlist with a political science theme? Want someone to make one? Know someone who has one? Send us your suggestions using this form! Please note that we will review all proposals but not all will be published.