Africa's countries are distinct entities, but their music is blending together
With all this cross-pollination necessary to make such a huge part of popular culture, it can be said that, in terms of popular culture, the continent is looking more and more like a country. What's cool easily becomes nationalized, then maybe regionalized, and, if the song is particularly cool, even loved across the continent, like Tu-Face's “African Queen” or Brenda Fassie's “Vulundlela” all those years ago. And there's the collaborations. Wyre (Kenya) and M.I. (Nigeria) did a song together. So did Dama Do Bling (Mozambique) and Sasha (Nigeria). And Fally Ipupa (Nigeria) and J. Martins (DRC). According to MTV Base, P-Square (Nigeria) and Tear Gas (South Africa) are planning a collaboration as well. Then Nigeria's superstar Tu-Face performs with a South African band during the 2010 MAMA awards (Yes, this list is heavy on Nigeria, but that's really is where some of the most popular artists continent-wide come from). Everyone cheers, and there really is no reason why we should not. If it's good music, you dance to it. If it's a good movie, you watch it. After all, Van Vicker is not less handsome because he's Ghanaian, nor are P-Square's abs any less defined for the fact of their Nigerianness. All are equal before the eyes of young, cable-having, cell-phone-using, internet-surfing Africans across the continent.
If preceeding times were marked with dogged territorialism, the drawing of cultural boundaries in bright-colored chalk that very often led to varying degrees of conflict, we could be so lucky as to see the signs of inching towards a new way of seeing Africa. It has been interesting to see identity with the continent become a changeable entity, a coat one can slip on when Ghana qualifies for the second round of the World Cup, or off, when one hears about something stupid someone's president did. The territorialism is still there, but more interesting is the willingness to erase the chalklines and adopt the larger, more inclusive identity of Africa. We could quibble with this and wonder if this necessarily a good thing, but I think the presence of this duality should be welcomed.