Senegal

Hip-hop, African Diaspora and Decolonial Futures

Understand how young Africans use hip-hop to question traditional representations of Africa, imagine Africa's future, and raise consciousness about globalization and (in)equality.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

None

Language of Study

Wolof, French

Courses taught in

French, English

Dates

Jan 26 ‎– May 9

Program Countries

Senegal

Program Excursion Countries

Ghana

Program Base

Dakar

Critical Global Issue of Study

Identity & Human Resilience

Identity & Human Resilience Icon

Geopolitics & Power

Geopolitics & Power Icon

Overview

Why study hip-hop in Africa?

Hip-Hop artists in West Africa are taking on Eurocentric understandings of the world and redefining Africa from a decolonial perspective. In Senegal and Ghana, two hubs of this cultural revolution, you’ll engage with hip hop artists, activists, and influencers to learn how they critique traditional understandings of Africa and African-descended peoples, imagine African futures, and raise consciousness about globalization and (in)equality. You will get the chance to study, engage, and perform with major hip-hop artists such as King Mo, Ndongo D, Xeinnix, and Salla Ngary.

Highlights

  • Explore hip-hop as a philosophical, political, and economic force in Africa.
  • Attend workshops led by major hip-hop artist like King Mo Ndongo D and Xeinnix.
  • Learn how contemporary African youth shape, and are shaped by, globalization.
  • Spend three weeks in Ghana experiencing hip life, a unique version of hip-hop.
  • Study with Senegalese students.

Prerequisites

None

Excursions

Three weeks in Ghana

You’ll engage in a comparative study of global hip-hop and Ghana’s hip life and examine the way contemporary Ghanaian urban artists, and activists shape cultural trends in West Africa, Europe, the United States, and the Caribbean.

Saint Louis: The Creole City par excellence

You’ll visit this Creole city on the northwest coast of Senegal known for colonial architecture. Located on N’Dar Island in the Senegal River, you’ll find it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Senegal. Frequently compared to New Orleans, its urban cultural scene is particularly diverse, situated at the crossroads of Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Muslim world.

Ziguinchor: The Promise of Peace

You will immerse yourself in the core values of hip-hop and its modern views on the way urban cultures should evolve.  Visit the terrain of legendary hip-hop crew Hardcore Side; become acquainted with this unique city located between The Gambia and the two Guineas; and learn how hip-hop has functioned as a source for peace-building and conflict resolution in Senegal.

Kaolack: Bringing Hope, Sustaining Democracy

Visit this vibrant center of urban culture to continue your exploration of African hip-hop as a political force on the continent. Its best known crew, Keurgui, is one of the most engaging hip-hop collectives in the country. Kergui’s Kilifa and Thiat are founding members of Y-en-a-marre  (Fed Up), a group of Senegalese rappers and journalists who came together in 2011 to protest ineffective government and register youth to vote.

Guediawaye: Home of G Hip-Hop

Guediawaye, a densely populated neighborhood on the outskirts of Dakar known for activist hip-hop, is the home of G Hip-Hop, a collective engaging in social transformation, educational decoloniality, and sustainable development. In Guediawaye, you’ll learn the way hip-hop is transforming one of the most disenfranchised neighborhoods in Senegal into an important source of talent, creativity, and innovation.

Yarakh

Explore Yarakh, a Dakar neighborhood that’s home to some of Senegal’s major talents including Ndiol, the world-renowned director of Kaddu Yarakh and a strong proponent of Theater of the Oppressed in Senegal, and Moussa Sene Absa, one of the foremost Senegalese directors. You’ll discover this renowned neighborhood through workshops organized by these giants of Senegalese culture.

Tambacounda

You’ll become acquainted with hip-hop artists from Eastern Senegal, best known for the quality of their lyrics and their engagement in schools. Learn about the MCs of Kangam Squad, the town’s best-known crew, who, as high school teachers, are engaged in making hip-hop literacy a reality in Senegal.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Please expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • Hip-hop as African philosophy
  • Decolonial approaches to education and literacy
  • Urban cultures and sustainable development
  • The pervasive nature of coloniality in black communities globally
  • Complexity of African-descended cultures and their pluriversality
  • What shapes diasporic identities and communities outside of Africa

African Urban Hip-hop and Decolonial Futures

African Urban Hip-hop and Decolonial Futures – syllabus
(AFRS3000 / 3 credits)

This course gives students a deeper understanding of the vitality, resilience, and global breadth of contemporary African and African diaspora communities through an experiential engagement with hip-hop and urban cultures as decolonial voices that constantly engage the limits of coloniality, global capitalism, and local political realities. This course focuses particularly on the ways African urban hip-hop functions as decolonial pedagogical praxes and counterhegemonic movements against cultural and economic imperialism in the global African diaspora, in general, and in the United States, Senegal, and Ghana, in particular. Using music as a political and aesthetic expression against Empire, the course explores the potential and limits of African urban hip-hop to offer disenfranchised masses, especially people of African descent, possibilities to critique and delink from coloniality in their everyday lives. Hip-hop will be studied as a means to create links and spaces of solidarity between African descendants and economically disenfranchised peoples from the Global North and the Global South. The ultimate goal is to question dominant narratives and create a transformative consciousness about economic and cultural globalization, immigration, identity, nation, nationality, democracy, human rights, and equality.

Rethinking Africa and the African Diaspora

Rethinking Africa and the African Diaspora – syllabus
(AFRS3500 / 3 credits)

This course explores, and critically examines, the idea of “Africa” and the African diaspora from a decolonial perspective. Through an experiential engagement with the intellectual, social, and political characteristics of everyday life in Senegal, Ghana, and the United States, students carefully engage with dominant narratives about people of African descent in ways that critique colonial interpretations of Africa and move them toward a consciousness that decolonizes the “idea of Africa” and the African diaspora. Further, the course evaluates the ways in which this critical and experiential engagement with mainstream understandings of the meaning of “Africa” is essential to the decolonial futures of people of African descent.

Research Methods and Ethics

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits)

Drawing upon the myriad of in-country experiences, cultural encounters, conversations in homestays, and community observations, the Research Methods and Ethics course is primarily designed as a field-based course complemented by classroom lectures, assigned readings, and discussions facilitated by the academic director. The course relies on SIT’s in-country professional network and academic and socio-cultural resources to structure assignments and field activities through which students practice and hone their skills in gathering, managing, and analyzing primary data.

Course Options

Choose between the following two language courses:

French Language Study
French Language Study – syllabus
(FREN1003–3503 / 3 credits)

This French language course provides the framework for consolidating your French language grammatical and communication competency. A course book created by the course instructor contains a variety of reading, grammar, writing, and discussion exercises designed and tailored to meet students’ learning needs and strategies. Selected texts in French, complemented by discussion, also in French, offer a broad view on contemporary issues in Africa (including sociology, environment, politics, education, and development) as students hone French language acquisition. Students spend thirty hours on formal classroom instruction and another thirty hours on field activities that are intended to support language acquisition. Field assignments designed around recreational activities such as sports, song and dance, shopping, and cooking enhance language acquisition in interesting and engaging ways, build new vocabulary, and develop intercultural competence. Students practice learned vocabulary and fluency using simple texts, moving to more complex texts as they develop their language abilities. Language proficiency assessment will include in-class oral and written tests and students’ use of French in everyday life and field assignments throughout the semester. Students’ language abilities are assessed through an oral proficiency test at the beginning of the semester to determine language class level assignment. Further assessment will be used throughout the semester to assess progress.

Wolof Language Study
Wolof Language Study – syllabus
(WOLO1003–3503 / 3 credits)

The Wolof language course is primarily intended to enhance students’ Wolof oral and writing proficiency and to introduce students to the variety of Senegal’s rural and urban cultures. The course is deliberately designed to take full advantage of students’ immersion in Senegalese society. Students spend thirty hours on formal classroom instruction and another thirty hours on field activities that are intended to support language acquisition. Field assignments in recreational activities such as sports, song and dance, shopping, cooking, and treasure hunts enhance language acquisition in interesting and engaging ways, build new vocabulary and develop intercultural competence. Students practice learned vocabulary and fluency using simple texts, moving to more complex texts as they gradually develop their language abilities. Language proficiency assessment will include in-class oral and written tests and students’ use of Wolof in everyday life and field assignments throughout the semester. Students’ language abilities are assessed through an oral proficiency test at the beginning of the semester to determine language class level assignment. A second midterm assessment reviews progress in order to reassign class level. A third assessment at the end of the semester determines students’ final language proficiency level.

Choose between the following two courses:

Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

The four-week Independent Study Project (ISP), scheduled in the final portion of the program, gives students a unique opportunity to study a key aspect of urban culture in Senegal in depth. The ISP draws upon the knowledge and various skills gained from the thematic, language, and research methods and ethics seminars. Students will have worked with the academic director and various other in-country experts to develop their ISP proposals and to schedule interviews, arrange for translators if they will be required, and arrange other logistics that are essential to completing the ISP. They will also have developed the competence to act in culturally appropriate ways and to find resources in Senegal needed for ISP completion.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • Dakar’s interconnected arts institutions
  • Social justice and the arts in Senegal
  • Conversations with Toussa Gotal and other female hip-hop artists on identity expression in rebel music
  • Reclaiming Senegalese education, identity and citizenship through hip-hop
  • The effect of urbanization on Senegalese ethnic identity
  • Tradition’s place in the Senegalese contemporary art world
  • The evolution of the Kora through time in Senegalese music from traditional to contemporary
  • Elucidating Baay Faal group identity by way of visual art
  • Stories of the female voice in hip-hop
  • La femme Noire a Choreo-Poem: Re-membering, Re-Imagining, responding to and Representing a collection of stories

Internship and Seminar
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits)

This course consists of a four-week internship with a local community or youth organization, artist, musician, filmmaker, research organization, business, or international NGO. The aim of the internship is to enable students to gain valuable professional experience and enhance their skills in an international work environment.

Sample internship sites:

  • Hip-hop collectives in Dakar
  • Urban cultural centers in Dakar
  • Maison de la Culture Urbaine
  • G Hip Hop
  • NGOs working with previously incarcerated people
  • Orphanages in Dakar
  • Organizations working with urban youth in Senegal

Homestays

Dakar

For 11 weeks, you will live with a Senegalese family in Dakar, the capital and the country’s largest city. You’ll experience Senegalese daily life, going to the market, tailor, neighborhood boutiques, and beach with your host family. You may attend soccer or wrestling matches and concerts with your homestay siblings. You may also have opportunities to attend a naming or wedding ceremony and Muslim holiday celebrations.

Most homestay families are middle class by local standards and represent different professions, including nurses, business owners and teachers.  Some hosts are within walking distance to the SIT program center; others may be 20-30 minutes away by bus.

Accra

You will live with a homestay family for three weeks in North Legon, a safe and growing middle class suburb of Accra. Your host family will live within 30-minutes walking distance to the SIT program center. The area has become a hub for educational institutions such as the University of Ghana, Academic City and the University of Professional Studies.

Faculty & Staff

Senegal: Hip-hop, African Diaspora and Decolonial Futures

Cheikh Thiam, PhD
Academic Director
Benedict “Papis” Bassene, MA
Office Manager
Khadidiatou “Khadija” Diedhiou
Homestay Coordinator and Program Assistant
Lamine Niang, PhD Candidate
Student Affairs Coordinator
Ousman A. Pame, PhD
French Instructor
Sidy Gueye
Wolof Instructor

Discover the Possibilities

  • COST & SCHOLARSHIPS

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

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