Music and urban youth identities: A study of ghetto youth in contemporary culture and politics in Zimbabwe | National Inquiry Services Centre

Music and urban youth identities

Music and urban youth identities: A study of ghetto youth in contemporary culture and politics in Zimbabwe

A study of ghetto youth in contemporary culture and politics in Zimbabwe

By Doreen Rumbidzai Tivenga
Size: 170x 240 mm
Pages: 186 pages
ISBN 13: 978-1-920033-98-9 (paperback)
Published: December 2022
Publishers: NISC (Pty) Ltd
Recommended Retail Price: R 32,500.00 325.00
Cover: Paperback

About the book

When the Zimbabwean government imposed the 75% local content policy in 2001, young people began dominating the music scene, marking a dramatic turn in the history of Zimbabwean music and entertainment. Doreen Rumbidzai Tivenga’s Music and Urban Youth Identities: A study of ghetto youth identities in contemporary culture and politics in Zimbabwe traces how the stipulation of the local content quota coincided with the post-2000 political and economic crises in Zimbabwe that pushed youth, especially those from low-income backgrounds – the ‘ghetto youth’ – to the margins of the country’s economy. The author shows how the youth responded to this predicament by embracing the new turn in Zimbabwean music, turning to music to try to eke out a living, and at the same time articulate their daily struggles, survival strategies and aspirations. She also highlights that music is an important marker of identity and a means through which youth connect and identify with their peers, and musicians with their fans, arguing that music intersects with different ways youth construct and assert their identities, which they define in light of their local experiences as well as the demands of the globalised shifting world. Tivenga however observes that the youth do not construct their identities in a uniform or linear way, but in complex and heterogeneous ways characterised by spatial attachments and affiliations, group affiliations, gender dynamics and a quest for visibility and power.

Reviewer’s Comments


This book is a welcome addition to the small body of research on popular culture in Zimbabwe. The author deftly describes the influence of urban grooves on young people in view of their identities, gender issues, sexualities, music and its association with both sides of the political divide.
Dr Lee Watkins, Department of Music and Musicology, Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa 

What is fascinating is that the book relies on a different theoretical paradigm from the dominant ethnomusicology of scholars … who have all written on some aspects of Zimbabwean music. There is a whole sub-genre hidden in journal articles, dissertations and media reports that is surfaced in this work. For this, I commend the author, in her ability to shift the narrative and grounding it in the voices of the makers of the music and scholars and writers in Zimbabwe and on the continent.
Dr Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Part of the African Humanities Series

About the Authors

Doreen Rumbidzai Tivenga is a Lecturer at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, where she also received her PhD in English Literary and Cultural Studies. Her research interests include urban youth cultures, performances and identities, youth literatures, popular and celebrity culture, and the new media. Doreen has presented papers at both local and international conferences and has published and co-published book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals. These have been on the relationship between music, youth identities and the contemporary Zimbabwean experience, the role played by the new media and popular culture in addressing political injustices in contemporary Zimbabwe, literary depictions of South African youth experiences in the post-apartheid era and life narratives in the context of the corona virus pandemic in South Africa.


Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Space and naming in the construction of urban youth identities
Chapter 3: Celebrity culture and interconnections with youth identities 
Chapter 4: Resistant youth cultures 
Chapter 5: Self-praise and lyrical feuds: Tropes for claims to recognition and power
Chapter 6: Conclusion 


Order Enquiries

You may contact NISC to purchase this book, however other purchasing options are available. Please see ordering details below:


Order online through from the African Books CollectiveAmazon or order from your local book store.


Order from the African Books Collective.