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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Real love versus real life: youth, music and utopia in Freetown, Sierra Leone
Author:Stasik, MichaelISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (ISSN 0001-9720)
Geographic term:Sierra Leone
Subjects:popular music
romantic relationships
External link:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0001972016000024
Abstract:The most popular music among youths in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown is music dealing with love. While the music, which is mainly of foreign origin, evokes idealized images of 'real love', the real-life relationships of its young audiences are characterized by chronic states of emotional uncertainty and dissatisfaction. Economic disparities lead to an increasing monetization of young people's relationships, driving them either into a fragile flux of multiple partners or out of intimate engagements altogether. Taking this 'dissonance' between sonic representations and social relations as a point of departure, in this article the author explores the ways in which young Freetonians position themselves at the juncture of desire and reality. After an introduction to Freetown's contemporary music scene, he juxtaposes various life and love stories of youths with the fantasies they invest in 'love music'. In so doing, he discusses the complex relationships between affect, exchange, deprivation and the strictures involved in attaining social adulthood. Drawing on the notion of utopia, denoting a desired yet unattainable state, he argues that it is within the experiential gap between the consumption of a representation and the desire to live (up to) that representation that Freetown's youths rework their horizons of possibilities. Bibliogr., notes, ref., summary in English and French. [Journal abstract]