What a Video Queen is to a Male Artist: the Social-Semiotic Analysis of Music Videos and Lyrics in Tanzania

Hyasinta Izumba, Antoni Keya∗∗


This paper is set to examine the representation of women by male artists in
bongo flava. It aims at disclosing the discursive practices taking place between
men and women in the music industry. The study used Teo van Leeuwen’s
social semiotics to analyze the data through exclusion, role, specific and
general, and categorization. The linguistic analysis showed that a woman is
subservient to man; she is permissive with her body, allowing the camera to
focus on her boobs and buttocks. The dancing styles and flaunting are to attract
the viewing audience. In the lyrics she is a harlot, slut, lunatic, killer, involved
in commercial sex, unsettling in relationships and all she sees is money.
Interviews with male artists show her as a means to the male artists’ end, she
is ready to do anything for money because she is a prostitute. Focused group
participants, being unsophisticated viewers, do not take this woman to be a
special kind of woman; she represents other women rather than the ones she is
categorized with. She is a product of the habitus whose socio-cultural and
economic situation needs to be interrogated.
Key words: bongo flava, bongo movie, discursive practices, video queen, social
semiotic analysis, Tanzania; wadangaji

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