Friday, 19 August 2011


Discussions and conclusions continue to be drawn following the England riots a fortnight ago.  Prime Minister David Cameron promised war on “moral decay”, since majority mobsters were youths with low regard to law, authority and social values.  His critics are doubtful. Some say he and his ruling circle are “just talking.” Certain callers on London radio stations charge his leadership is “out of touch.” How can Etonian tutored elite know what “commoners” are feeling?

British PM,  David Cameron
 Six hundred years old Eton is considered the most famous distinguished public school in the world.  According to Wikipedia at least 19 British Prime Ministers have been here.
Conservative leaders Mr Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson are Eton educated.
Then security. The biggest attack has been levelled at police who could not contain the rioters.  Conflicting views emerged following a decision by Mr Cameron bringing in experienced American policeman to share information with the English.  “Super cop” Bill Bratton was successful in reducing street gangs in the USA. “We don’t need a US tough guy” some press headlines screamed.
Meantime, Deputy PM, Nick Clegg, called for the 1,000- plus arrested rioters to say sorry to victims of their crime as redemption. I wondered.
 Is Mr Clegg thinking about Bishop Tutu and Mzee Mandela’s Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa? 
During a debate on BBC’s Newsnight, Dr. David Starkey an outspoken academic suggested that “black culture” was a strong influence during the riots. He was heavily challenged.  CNN’s Piers Morgan and former editor of Mirror newspapers called him a “racist idiot.”
Expanding this very significant interpretation, respected black London intellectual and media columnist, Dr Tony Sewell said Dr. Starkey’s opinions had some sense in them while elaborating the historian’s tactless approach. For example Dr Starkey had proposed that the recent riots were a true outcome of Enoch Powell's “Rivers of Blood” speech. In 1968 Conservative politician Powell warned about mass immigration of Commonwealth folks:
“We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre...”

Controversial politician... Enoch Powell

 Dr. Sewell argued while Powell’s predictions were political (i.e. racial) as in the 1980’s; August 2011 was not.
Whites are still majority. Asians have large numbers amongst immigrants.  Minority are blacks who count 1% Caribbean and 0.8% African descendants.
How could children from such a small population exert an influence over this gigantic tragedy?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, culture “combines the arts, customs, and institutions of a nation, group or people.”  It is also “the arts and intellectual achievement regarded as a whole.”
 The disorder was “fuelled by black led youth culture from imagery in rap videos to lyrics of hip hop music” which are the twin central themes of the bling- bling culture i.e. sex and material possessions.  Looters targeted shops with TV, laptops, trainers, sports clothes, mobile phones but not “bookshops and public libraries.”
Dr. Tony Sewell...
Gangsta culture Dr. Sewell concluded in his Daily Mail article, calls for disrespect for police and rule of law as expressed in 1992 hip hop classic "Cop Killer" by Ice T and Body Count band:
 “My adrenaline’s pumpin”
I got my stereo bumpin.
I’m bout to kill me somethin.
A pig stopped me for nuthin.
Cop killer, better you than me.”
Rapper Ice T ...
Tanzania has always been influenced by African American music.
Since the 1950’s jazz inspired names of Dar es Salaam Jazz band, Western Jazz (Saboso), Kilwa Jazz, Morogoro Jazz, etc. Following Blues legend Buddy Guy's visit in 1969 young musicians embracing Soul and James Brown created Afro fusion bands like Rifters, Tonics, Sunburst, Comets etc.
African American blues guitarist, Buddy Guy whose 1969 visit had a major impact on Tanzanian youth music of early 1970's...

However, Ujamaa policies restricted foreign music which has kept local cultural musical forms, e.g. Taarab and Tanzanian pop, active. Today, Bongo Flava is considered centre for hip hop production in East Africa. The government policy of control bad foreign influence continues through banning explicit sex and violent lyrics. This has contributed making Tanzanian Swahili rap artists less aggressive unlike the prevalent rude boy attitude in UK and USA.
In his 2005 interview with associate Professor Alex Perullo,  Bongo Flava star Sam Stigillydaa said : “American rappers talk about crazy things- drinking, drugs, violence against women. American blacks kill blacks. I hope African rap stays African and doesn’t turn crazy.”
Nevertheless minute ingredients of American hip hop culture like wearing hanging trousers (known in Swahili slang as “Kata Kundu”) have been embraced. What we do not want are negative effects of black culture. We hope for a youth aiming to build a promising, productive, progressive Africa.   

Published in Citizen Tanzania:

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