My published essays, research papers, and other written works 

2011 - 2021

Publications

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"Transformative Darkness: Fear, Vigilantism and the Death of Trayvon Martin" 

Nocturnes: Popular Music and the Night, edited by Geoff Staht & Giacomo Botta

On 26 February 2012, seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot by neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman. Zimmerman spotted Martin on a late evening walk through the gated Sanford, Florida community in which his father lived. Martin was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and had recently purchased a pack of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea from a local store. Zimmerman was convinced that the Black teen looked suspicious and called the police after trailing Martin through the area. Minutes later Zimmerman approached Martin and shot him. Martin’s death led to national outrage about the flagrant policing of Black males in the USA. It also sparked endless questions about race, vigilantism and Zimmerman’s intentions when he encountered Martin that dusky evening. This chapter examines emcee Chosan’s song “Hoodie On” (2013).

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"'You Can Take Our Diamonds, But You Can Never Take Our Spirit': Chosan's Analysis of Blood Diamonds and the Sierra Leonean Civil War"

Tyranny and Music, edited by Joseph E. Morgan & Gregory N. Reish

Chapter 12, Abimbola Cole Kai-Lewis's '"You Can Take Our Diamonds, But You Can Never Take Our Spirit': Chosan's Analysis of Blood Diamonds and the Sierra Leonean Civil War," investigates Sierra Leonean emcee Chosan's analysis of the diamond trade during the civil war as orchestrated by the Liberian leader Charles Taylor and spanning the years 1991 to 2002. Largely funded by the diamond trade, Taylor was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity by an international criminal court at The Hague in 2012 where it was shown that his actions resulted in mass amputations, killings, and rapes. Kai-Lewis investigates Chosan's commentaries both in a narrative featured in Kanye West's video for the song "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" and his own track "Blood Diamonds." She employs survivors' accounts and memoirs to chronicle how Taylor's actions impacted Sierra Leoneans and how Chosan's music rebukes those crimes.

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"Welcome to the United States of Africa: African Nationalism and Hip-Hop Perspectives on Unity in the New Africa"

Resiliency and Distinction: Beliefs, Endurance and Creativity in the Musical Arts of Continental and Diasporic Africa, edited by Kimasi L Browne and Jean N Kidula

Before becoming the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana, Francis Nwia-Kofi Nkrumah, better known as Kwame Nkrumah, settled in Philadelphia in 1935 to pursue further education at Lincoln University. Over the next decade of his life, he earned Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Sacred Theology as well as Master’s degrees in Education (1941) and Philosophy (1943) from the University of Pennsylvania. He also published articles on the importance of education and African nationalism through the University of Pennsylvania School of Education which later influenced his pan-African concept of the United States of Africa that he promoted upon returning to Ghana, which was then called the Gold Coast, in 1947, and beginning a national crusade to end British colonial rule that lasted until independence on March 7, 1957. This article explores how Kwame Nkrumah’s call for a United States of Africa influenced the music of South African hip-hop artist Zosukuma “Young  Nations” Kunene, an emcee whose father, Mazisi Kunene, was a revolutionary active in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement.  In March 2010, Young Nations released his sophomore album United States of Africa on Unreleased Records, the label to which he is both a co-owner and an artist. The album returned to Nkrumah’s push for a united African continent free of colonization and the divisiveness of national borders. Using archival research, digital repositories, fieldwork conducted in South Africa, and lyrical analyses, this article investigates political factors contributing to the formulation of Young Nations’ album United States of Africa.

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"Contemporary Uses of the Musical Arts in HIV/AIDS Health Education Initiatives: The Case of the Radio Serial Drama Makgabaneng"

The Culture of AIDS: Hope and Healing in Music and the Arts, edited by Gregory Barz
and Judah Cohen

The musical arts are increasingly important in Botswana’s national HIV/AIDS health education campaigns. Music, dance, and drama are integral components in promoting both HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention strategies. For Botswana, a country which once possessed one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world, the musical arts are helping to curb the spread of the pandemic. His Excellency Festus Mogae, President of Botswana, is working closely with the Government of Botswana to integrate the musical arts into the country’s national HIV/AIDS framework as well as the multisectoral approach to mitigating its impact. One of the most popular musical arts programs included in Botswana’s HIV/AIDS programming is the radio serial drama Makgabaneng. In 2001, this HIV/AIDS behavioral change initiative sponsored by the Government of Botswana (GoB), the United States Department of Health Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), premiered on Radio Botswana. Since its inception, Makgabaneng attracted a loyal listenership across the country. It continues to make great strides in educating Batswana about the consequences of HIV/AIDS. Forms of national programming such as Makgabaneng are crucial in promoting knowledge and life skills in contemporary African contexts.  In this article, I will explore the role of Makgabaneng in Botswana’s health education programming. Drawing from interviews, in-studio observation, and an episode of the serial drama, I will demonstrate the significance of Makgabaneng in Botswana’s musical arts-based HIV/AIDS initiatives. In so doing, I will prove how the musical arts can be used in contemporary settings to further comprehension about the pandemic.

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"Contemporary Music in Botswana"

The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Music and Culture (1), edited by Janet Sturman 

The SAGE Encyclopedia of Music and Culture presents key concepts in the study of music in its cultural context and provides an introduction to the discipline of ethnomusicology, its methods, concerns, and its contributions to knowledge and understanding of the world's musical cultures, styles, and practices. The diverse voices of contributors to this encyclopedia confirm ethnomusicology's fundamental ethos of inclusion and respect for diversity. Combined, the multiplicity of topics and approaches are presented in an easy-to-search A-Z format and offer a fresh perspective on the field and the subject of music in culture.

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Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World

The EPMOW Genre volumes contain entries on the genres of music that have been or currently are popular in countries and communities all over the world. Included are discussions on cultural, historical and geographic origins; technical musical characteristics; instrumentation and use of voice; lyrics and language; typical features of performance and presentation; historical development and paths and modes of dissemination; influence of technology, the music industry and political and economic circumstances; changing stylistic features; notable and influential performers; and relationships to other genres and sub-genres.

This volume, on the music of Sub-Saharan Africa, features a wide range of entries and in-depth essays. All entries conclude with a bibliography, discographical references and discography, with additional information on sheet music listings and visual recordings. Written and edited by a team of distinguished popular music scholars and professionals, this is an exceptional resource on the history and development of popular music.