Singing After Apartheid: The Musical Aesthetics of Collective Protests in South Africa — Omotayo Jolaosho

Omotayo Jolaosho leads with a clear manifestation of the call to demonstrate via the ongoing use of Apartheid-era freedom songs and dances in the protests of post-Apartheid South Africa. In efforts to combat corruption and land theft, contemporary political collectives reinvent songs once directed at outright physical violence towards more insidious and invisible processes of structural violence. Through an ethnographic review of musical and choreographic elements of freedom songs collected through long-term ethnography and interviews, Jolaosho illustrates the political ramifications of aesthetics in embodied protest art, from the collectivizing capacity of call-and-response antiphony to the combative role of lyrics and gestures of symbolic armament. Protest organizations, continually risking irrelevance and disorganization, use freedom songs not only to draw attention to injustice, but also to teach themselves how to organize amidst dramatic political change and generate new communities that transcend class and geography. Rigorous attention to the aesthetics of protest reveals what these protest demonstrations successfully perform, even when their political goals fall through.

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