January 2016 theme: Reggae in Africa

Though originating in the Caribbean, reggae has been widely adopted throughout Africa. From its origins in the 1970s, reggae rose to the mainstream in the 1980s. Today it is still one of the most popular genres on the continent, both in its original ‘roots’ form and as modern dancehall. Many of Africa’s most successful musical acts are global ambassadors of the genre, among them Alpha Blondy and Tiken Jah Fakoly from Ivory Coast, and the late Lucky Dube from South Africa.

Ivorian reggae star Tiken Jah Fakoly. Photo: www.dourfestival.eu
Ivorian reggae star Tiken Jah Fakoly. Photo: www.dourfestival.eu

With its distinctive rhythms and conscious, positive lyrics that typically aim to empower and uplift the downtrodden and fight repression, reggae provides a common link and source of identity between all Africans and members of the diaspora throughout the world. Vibrant reggae scenes in West, East and Southern Africa make the continent a popular destination for many of the world’s leading reggae and dancehall artists. Ghanaian artist Rocky Dawuni’s recent nomination for Best Reggae at the 2016 Grammys has placed African reggae further in the spotlight.

For these reasons, we have chosen reggae as our theme for the month of January 2016. We have already published numerous insightful overview texts on the rise of reggae in countries such as Uganda, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Senegal and Zimbabwe, with many more still to come as we expand our coverage of the continent. These overviews are complemented by various features, news articles and album reviews – all essential reading for anyone interested in African reggae.

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