Music and Resistance


Music is one of the most common forms of social and political resistance. Barrett states that “powerful songs have always been the engine behind the greatest social movements” (2014 para.10). Music has often lead to political/social resistance and reforms. In the 1970’s Afro Beat music protested the oil company regime of Nigeria, and rallied against Nigeria’s military dictators (Barrett 2014). Victor Jara’s songs sparked the movement to democracies in South America, Brazil’s Tropicalis movement protested against the Brazilian military junta, and in Australia and New Zealand, songs by indigenous and non-indigenous writers initiated indigenous land reclamation (Barrett 2014). Additionally, in South Africa indigenous Mbatanga music spread messages of peace and reconciliation, and “helped bring about the end of the Apartheid” (Barrett 2014 para.10).



The Apartheid was a brutal system of racial segregation in South Africa. Millions were denied basic human rights and oppressed by the white minority (Vershbow 2010). Music significantly contributed to the anti-apartheid movement (Schumann 2008).  Despite never having achieved much success in the US, Rodriguez’s music was greatly popular in South Africa, the effects of his music leading him to become a “counter culture hero” (Titlestad 2013, p. 470). Music like Rodriguez’s was a key part of the cultural/social environment in which many people began to provide outspoken criticism of political issues (Hyslop 2013). The Voelvry movement (anti-establishment Afrikaans rock music), for example, promoted criticism of conscription and promoted anti-conscription messages (Hyslop 2013).


Music is often a great contributor to political and social resistance through its provocation of thought and critical conversation. Hence, Hyslop regards there to be at least a vague connection between music and revolution (Hyslop 2013)



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