Popular culture in Muslim Africa

Authored by: Abdalla Uba Adamu

Routledge Handbook of Islam in Africa

Print publication date:  December  2021
Online publication date:  December  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367144234
eBook ISBN: 9780367144241
Adobe ISBN:


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Popular culture, as a form of public mass entertainment, occupies the same religious space in Muslim communities regardless of specific location. Such entertainment and subsequent performance are rooted in Islamic tradition governing the lived-in experiences of Muslims and are no more different among African Muslims than elsewhere. However, African Muslim performance and consumption of popular culture are based on the reworking of transnational modes of cultural production within an inherited African performance tradition that nevertheless confines itself to Islamic tenets. Furthermore, African Muslim popular culture had to situate itself within the raging binary forces of Islamic tradition, and challenged by increasing Islamist ascendancy, on the one hand, and transnational eddies of cultural currents that sharpen the lens of contemporary modern African youth cultures, on the other hand. This chapter explores the contemporary development of popular culture in African Muslim societies in the domains of music, films, and literature. It draws attention to the narratives of modernity in cultural production that were often seen as being at odds with the Islamic social culture of the producers. In so doing, it explores how African Muslim popular culture purveyors reaffirm their creativity within a modernizing Islamic identity and the challenges they often face.

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