Urban orature and resistance: The case of Donny Elwood
From their very origins, contemporary African artistic creations have been works of resistance. Born from the struggle against colonialism, these works continued in this trajectory when independence failed to deliver on the aspiration of the masses. Today’s artists follow in the footsteps of their predecessors; resisting all forms of social injustice, economic inequality and political oppression that bedevil the post-independence arena. Using resistance aesthetics as critical tool of analysis, this paper seeks to examine the concept of resistance in the music of Donny Elwood. It aims at showing that urban orature, to which category Elwood’s music belongs, is one of those sites in the postcolonial context where the struggle for liberation from all forms of oppression is continuously waged. The paper argues that, with its emphasis on sense and rhythm, and not dance, Elwood’s music effectively communicates the artist’s protest against socio-political contradictions in the postcolonial space while sensitizing the masses on the need for change. The discursive perspectives in his art reside in the interface between social interactions in the urban milieu and urban orature (witnessed in the blend of musical varieties, instruments and message). These effectively register his social commitment as an urban artist.
Keywords: Cameroon; Donny Elwood; music; post-independence space; resistance aesthetics; urban orature