Urban orature and resistance: The case of Donny Elwood

Eunice Ngongkum


From their very origins, contemporary African artistic creations have been works of resistance. Born from the struggle against colonialism, these works continued in this trajectory when independence failed to deliver on the aspiration of the masses. Today’s artists follow in the footsteps of their predecessors; resisting all forms of social injustice, economic inequality and political oppression that bedevil the post-independence arena. Using resistance aesthetics as critical tool of analysis, this paper seeks to examine the concept of resistance in the music of Donny Elwood. It aims at showing that urban orature, to which category Elwood’s music belongs, is one of those sites in the postcolonial context where the struggle for liberation from all forms of oppression is continuously waged. The paper argues that, with its emphasis on sense and rhythm, and not dance, Elwood’s music effectively communicates the artist’s protest against socio-political contradictions in the postcolonial space while sensitizing the masses on the need for change. The discursive perspectives in his art reside in the interface between social interactions in the urban milieu and urban orature (witnessed in the blend of musical varieties, instruments and message). These effectively register his social commitment as an urban artist.


Cameroon; Donny Elwood; music; post-independence space; resistance aesthetics; urban orature

Full Text:



Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures. London: Routledge, 1989.

Cabral, Amilcar. Return to Source: Selected Speeches of Amilcar Cabral. Ed. Africa Information Source. New York and London: Monthly Review, 1973.

Cheney-Coker, Syl. “Interview with Syl Cheney-Coker.” West Africa 3360 (1981): 3056.

Clark, Msia Kibona and Mickie Mwanzia Koster. “Introduction.” Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa. Eds. Msia Kibona Clark and Mickie Mwanzia Koster. Lanham: Lexington, 2014. ix–xxviii.

Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge, 1994.

Dorfman, Ariel. The Empire’s Old Clothes. New York: Pantheon, 1983.

Elwood, Donny. Negro et Beau. MGI Night and Day Distribution, 1997. CD.

Elwood, Donny. Eklektikos. Pygmoid, 2001. CD.

Elwood, Donny and Fanny Pigeaud. “Donny Elwood. The Live Comeback. Ten Years of Wit and Political Satire.” Trans. Julie Street. Yaoundé: RFI Music, 2006.

Elwood, Donny and Francois Bimogo. “Entretien avec Donny Elwood.” 16 Mar. 2006. 10 Mar. 2014.

Harlow, Barbara. Resistance Literature. London: Methuen, 1987.

Hirschmann, Albert. Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations and States. Harvard: Harvard U P, 1970.

Institut Français du Bénin. “Donny Elwood”. 22 Mar. 2013. 5 May 2017.


Lentricchia, Frank. Criticism and Social Change. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983.

Mongia, Padmini, ed. Contemporary Postcolonial Theory: A Reader. Oxford: Oxford U P, 2007.

Mouneke, Romanus O. Art, Rebellion and Redemption. New York: Peter Lang, 1994.

Oakes, Steve and Gary Warnaby. “Conceptualizing the Management and Consumption of Live Music in Urban Space.” Marketing Theory 11.4 (2011): 405–18.

Okolo, M. S. C. African Literature as Political Philosophy. London. New York: Zed, 2007.

Olaniyan, Tejumola. “Narrativizing Postcoloniality: Responsibilities.” Public Culture 5 (1992): 47–56.

Osundare, Niyi. “The Writer as Righter.” Ibadan: Ipon Ifa, 1986.

Scher, Steven Paul. “Literature and Music.” Interrelations of Literature. Eds. Jean Barricelli and Joseph Gibaldi. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1982. 225–50.

Scott, James C. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven: Yale U P, 1990.

Soyinka, Wole, ed. Poems of Black Africa. London: Heinemann, 1975.

Wa Thiong’o, Ngũgĩ. Writers in Politics: A Re-engagement with Issues of Literature and Politics. Oxford, Nairobi and Portsmouth: James Currey, 1997.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2309-9070/tvl.v.54i2.1229


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.