Is Hip Hop culture the trauma story for youth in black communities? An ethnographic study of the youth of Zola community in Soweto

Zharima, Campion
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Soweto is one of the post-apartheid urban settlements that are still haunted by historical injustices and as such, these areas have endured a lot of suffering through high levels of poverty, violence and substance abuse. These unresolved problems have escalated in a continuous cycle of trauma which has shaped the community members` identities and their way of life. As a result, the community adopts various ways of ‘retelling’ their lived experiences through performative arts and culture. One of the most interesting movements is the culture of hip hop which is an urban street youth culture that uses music, graffiti and fashion to portray a form of identity that represents these dispossessed communities. The communities have endured transgenerational trauma since apartheid and continue to live with its effects. The culture of hip hop can be examined as a collective identity of the cultural expression of traumatized communities. There is a need to study and understand these narratives as a cathartic way of expression and storytelling. This study therefore aimed to explore the connection between the narratives of hip hop culture and its expression of trauma in black communities. The study was a qualitative ethnographic study on the community of Zola in Soweto which was conducted using a semi structured interview schedule with five participants who were Hip Hop artists through face to face interviews. Secondary data analysis of the lyrics of the artists that were interviewed was also utilised. The selection of these participants was done through purposive sampling because the research focused on a specific subgroup with similar characteristics. The nature of the study involved the observation of events and participants in their environment as well. This study will hopefully contribute to understanding communities as groups comprising of one or many cultures that are brought together by a shared history or experience. Moreover, the understanding of the many ways trauma can be expressed by communities in a post-apartheid South Africa. The study will also be a useful reference for social work intervention in disadvantaged and marginalised communities. Keywords: Hip Hop, Trauma, Community, Zola, Soweto, Apartheid
A report study project presented to: The Department of Social Work School of Human and Community Development Faculty of Humanities University of the Witwatersrand In partial fulfilment of the requirements For the Degree Bachelor of Social Work