Parody after identity

Digital music and the politics of uncertainty in West Africa

by Jesse Weaver Shipley

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The FOKN Bois are an irreverent, cosmopolitan hip-hop duo from Ghana. They came to fame as part of the digital-music boom centered in Nigeria that has dominated African popular culture since the mid-2000s. Their most popular track, “Thank God We're Not a Nigerians,” mocks the national rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria and the idea of national allegiance itself. The song's production and circulation reveal that digital parody is increasingly central to how a rising generation of urban Africans live. Through sounds and images circulating on social media, young cosmopolitan Africans rely on a smartphone-driven social media–scape to reimagine national territorial identity in virtual terms. The FOKN Bois’ work shows that uncertainty and contradiction can be modes of knowing.

social media; parody; hip-hop; popular culture; digital circulation; Ghana; Nigeria