Hip Hop Activism

Dynamic Tension between the Global and Local in Mozambique


  • Manuel Armando Guissemo Stockholm University




local African languages, linguistic citizenship, Mozambique, relocalization


From its inception in the late 1980s to the present day, hip hop culture in Mozambique underwent several stages in which the process of “keeping it real” was in constant negotiation with the association of the Global Hip Hop Nation (GHHN), and its local cultural and linguistic elements. This article, using tropes of temporality as the main framework, discusses how relocalization of the GHHN is constructed in Mozambican hip hop. There is a progressive connection between the past, present and future which is highlighted by local rappers. The article argues that Mozambican hip hop activism is built through acts of engagement in political tropes, in which local rappers are acting as spokesmen of the marginalized population through lyrics that claim citizenship. The political discourses produced during the Frelimo’s socialist governance era are rescued to challenge the liberal politics developed in the present democratic period, which, in large part, is contested by the population at the margin of the development. Therefore, local rappers’ lyrics address popular complaints related to some political decisions that negatively affect the population at the margins and lead to general societal malfunction. The local African languages that were ideologically marginalized since the colonial regime are now being rescued by local rappers as a way to contextualize them into contemporary, metropolitan and transnational languages. This linguistic relocalization indexes a new present and an aspiration for a different future, where these languages will be inserted together with Portuguese to allow communication in urban spaces. This engagement by rappers can be perceived as acts of linguistic citizenship.

Author Biography

Manuel Armando Guissemo, Stockholm University

Manuel Guissemo holds a Masters in Linguistics from Eduardo Mondlane University, where he has been a lecturer since 2002. His work focuses on sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology. He is currently completing a PhD in Sociolinguistics at the Center for Research on Bilingualism at Stockholm University.


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How to Cite

Guissemo, M. A. (2018). Hip Hop Activism: Dynamic Tension between the Global and Local in Mozambique. Journal of World Popular Music, 5(1), 50–70. https://doi.org/10.1558/jwpm.36673