Hugh Masekela’s ‘Stimela’ gets a makeover

Wynter Gordon's remake of 'Stimela' suggests more challenging possibilities.

Hugh Masekela in 2012. Image credit Mário Pires via Flickr.

Wynter Gordon, theR&B singer-songwriter, is taking a considerable step outside her comfortable mid-commercial range with her new single, “Stimela,” and its self-directed video, but it’s hard to argue that it isn’t reeking of the worst type of structural World Music arrogance. It practically has it all: the cleverly metaphorical words from Hugh Masekela’s lament of migrant workers reduced to exotic vocal effect. (Or are they? “Running, running…”) The full gamut of stereotypes of Africa – wilderness, tribalism, “wisdom and truth” and the ignorant generalization of having a tiger to represent Africa. Watch:

But something in the blinking, refracting shadows of the video and the Weeknd-inspired cross-linking swirl of wavering sound suggests more challenging possibilities: borders dissolving between human, animal and machine, and between certainties and stereotypes. “I’m a hostage in this skin,” she sings, yet somehow the music and images make escape from the power structures sound eminently possible.

And here’s the original:

Further Reading

A city divided

Ethnic enclaves are not unusual in many cities and towns across Sudan, but in Port Sudan, this polarized structure instigated and facilitated communal violence.

The imperial forest

Gregg Mitman’s ‘Empire of Rubber’ is less a historical reading of Liberia than a history of America and racial capitalism through the lens of a US corporate giant.

Africa’s next great war

The international community’s limited attention span is laser-focused on jihadism in the Sahel and the imploding Horn of Africa. But interstate war is potentially brewing in the eastern DRC.

The Cape Colony

The campaign to separate South Africa’s Western Cape from the rest of the country is not only a symptom of white privilege, but also of the myth that the province is better run.

Between East Africa and the Gulf

Political encounters between the Arab Gulf and Africa span centuries. Mahmud Traouri’s novel ‘Maymuna’ demonstrates the significant role of a woman’s journey from East Africa to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Āfrīqāyī

It’s not common knowledge that there is Iran in Africa and there is Africa in Iran. But there are commonplace signs of this connection.

It could happen to us

Climate negotiations have repeatedly floundered on the unwillingness of rich countries, but let’s hope their own increasing vulnerability instills greater solidarity.