Hooligans and Heroes: Youth Identity and Hip-Hop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Document Type



Published by Indiana University Press in Africa Today, volume 51 issue 4, p. 74-101, 2005. Bryant users may access this article here.


Indiana University Press


During the 1990s, the rise in popularity of hip-hop culture in Tanzania brought increased public scrutiny of urban youth due, in part, to preconceived notions of youth culture and rap music. In newspaper articles and public discourses, youth were quickly targeted and labeled hooligans (wahuni), and often associated with words such as violent, hostile, and disruptive. Youth used music to combat these stereotypes and project images of themselves as creative and empowered individuals in society. In this article, I examine the ways that youth use rap music to confront stereotypes of young people, and reach the broader listening public through politically and socially relevant lyrics. Using transcriptions of lyrics and interviews with artists, I argue that youth have turned a foreign musical form into a critical medium of social empowerment whereby they are able to create a sense of community among other urban youth, voice their ideas and opinions to a broad listening public, and alter conceptions of youth as hooligans.