n Communicatio : South African Journal of Communication Theory and Research - 'Ek sê, Heita!' : kwaito and the construction of community : communication, cultural and media studies

Volume 32, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0250-0167


Kwaito can be described as the new music of the new South Africa. Since its emergence over a decade ago, kwaito still blasts from minibus taxis, on the new urban commercial stations formed after media liberalisation, and on street corners from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Kwaito is young, vibrant and decidedly black. This is hardly surprising in a context where music, like everything else, is a highly racialised terrain. This article describes the emergence of kwaito, and explores community radio station, Bush Radio's, broadcasts of kwaito music, looking at how these broadcasts create a sense of community. First, kwaito's emergence within the context of South Africa's mainstream cultural industries is articulated. Then kwaito music is explored as a signifier of black identity. This article is located within a cultural studies framework, which approaches musical genres as cultural texts capable of generating multiple meanings (Grossberg, 1993).

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