Kwaito Culture
Neo Ntsoma


South African youth represent a large part of the population of the country. Young people represent the future, a national resource and a source of energy and renewal. For 10 years, the country has been undergoing a process of transformation, development, reconciliation and developing a South African identity. On the other hand the youth were developing their own identity, which is truly, and proudly South African, the Kwaito culture. It's all about Peace, Love and Unity and about being yourself and loving yourself enough to be YOU but and most of all being proud of these things. It is more than skin deep. It is the soul, the spirit, mental orientation and a collective historical and experiential memory bank.

The word Kwaito is derived from the Afrikaans word kwaai, which translates to "angry" in English. In colloquial slang, negative words or phrases often acquire a positive connotation or "cool" status. The language of Kwaito is Isicamtho, South African township slang. Isicamtho is a modern version of tsotsitaal - a Tsotsi is a thug or a gangster, and taal is an Afrikaans term for language. Tsotsitaal is a language that has always been thought of as the language of township thugs, and is probably derived from flaaitaal of the 1920's slums and mensetaal (people's language) of the 1940's and 1950's. This language is made up of Afrikaans and a mixture of all other vernacular languages. It can be argued that Afrikaans is the skeleton of the language. Most South Africans understand more tsotsitaal than they're aware of as some terms have become naturalised and incorporated into daily conversations.

Kwaito is about the township, knowing about the township, understanding the township, walking the walk, talking the talk and most importantly, being proud of these things. The township is being celebrated by the youth of South Africa in Kwaito music, this is interesting when one considers that the township was created to keep a ready supply of cheap labour under control by the apartheid government.

When working on the project, it became clear to me that the youth of South Africa refuse to be condemned by the political situations of the past (apartheid) but instead choose to find their own identity without being judgemental.

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