Africa Development

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Performance and Power: Cultural Strategies for Contesting Hierarchy and Political Authority in Maazou Dan Alalo’s Song ‘Baudot’

AT Alou


In history and literature, colonial rule is often read correctly in terms of
violence, trauma, (super) structural mutations and the undermining by
external forces of local endogenous authorities, cultures and ideologies.
Incorrectly, however, these effects and mutations are typically
considered to be induced unilaterally from the outside hence occluding
the role and agency of local actors and the characteristics of internal
social dynamics in the colonized space. This paper focuses precisely
on aspects of these often forgotten dimensions explored through an
analysis of the paradoxal ‘Baudot’ praise song by Maazou Inoussa
alias Dan Alalo and his troupe. The song foregrounds the colonial
administrator René Baudot both as hero and anti-hero, the artist as a
powerful actor and lucid critic, the local society as reactive, ambivalent
and heterogeneous. In this performance of power, panegyric/parody,
empathy/satire, insider/outsider, high-status/low-status, private/public,
domination/resistance, centrality/liminality power/powerlessness
and low status/high status emerge as key concepts in a piece demonstrating artistic virtuosity, humour and lucidity.
AJOL African Journals Online