Tsonga popular music: negotiating ethnic identity in ‘global’ music practices

  • I Madalane


Studies on black South African popular music have often invoked the idea of ‘identity performance’. Although ethnic identity continues to be performed in contemporary black South African popular music, this article argues for the existence of a performance of, and discourse on, identities that go beyond ethnicity. Here the focus is on the relationship between ethnic identity and other identities that elide the national South African identity as manifested in the stories and music of the following Tsonga musicians from different generations: General MD Shirinda, Joe Shirimani, Penny Penny and Jeff Maluleke. Based on several in-depth interviews with these musicians, an analysis is provided of their use of language and their modes of self-representation as apparent in their music and in their discourse on their music during apartheid and post-apartheid times. The findings demonstrate how the musicians’ thoughts about, and practising of, identity move between different levels of ethnic affiliation at different historical moments.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-626X
print ISSN: 1812-1004