Vol 29 No 3 (2020): Nordic Journal of African Studies
Articles Social Studies

Youth, alcohol and the forging of community in Malawian hip-hop music

Ken Junior Lipenga
Chancellor College, English Department, University of Malawi
Published August 31, 2020
  • alcohol abuse,
  • Malawian hip-hop,
  • Malawian urban music,
  • Malawi youth,
  • language


This article examines youth, rap music, and alcoholism in Malawi. Alcohol abuse is one of the pressing social problems and has led to death in several instances. Government efforts to stem the problem are confronted to a prominent discourse among Malawian youth that extols the virtues of alcohol consumption. Focusing on hip-hop music, this paper draws upon the notion of waithood to explain this youthful glorification of alcoholism. I suggest that for the young artists and their followers in Malawi, alcohol and drug abuse are means of escape from their disillusionment with the state and society. Withdrawn into a fantasy world of their own that takes them away from the realities of poverty and lack of opportunities in Malawi, I argue that this abuse and glorification of alcohol in popular music is a form of subversive agency that challenges conventional structures of public authority (represented mainly by the government).