Accepted Paper:

The urban film narrative as a space of linguistic hybridity in Africa; the case of Tosh Gitonga's Nairobi Half Life (2012), Wanuri Kahiu's From a Whisper (2010) and Klaus Wischmann's and Martin Baer's  


Shikuku Emmanuel Tsikhungu (Kenyatta University)

Paper short abstract:

This article seeks to interrogate the hybrid nature of urban youth languages with their variations, uniqueness and functions are deployed and used in three films from Africa as well as their hybrid nature. The films are Kinshasa Symphony, Nairobi Half Life and From A Whisper

Paper long abstract:

The Kenyan film has experienced a rebirth in the post 2010 and one of the attributes to this renaissance has been that it speaks to the common man. The argument has been that it is the activities and actions are closer to the lives of the common Nairobian. What has not been appraised is the place of the free flowing language; and the code switching/mixing used by characters as signposts that provide markers for the average Nairobian to understand and relate to the film.

Elsewhere in Congo, the films that have been made about the life in Kinshasa have dwelt more on the dangers of infection by lethal diseases or warlords. This does not offer balanced representation of the ambivalence of the city. Additionally, the code mixing and the hybridity of the language has been narrated as a matter of course rather than as the hybrid language of the city. This paper is conceived therefore to appraise three films that tell the story of the Nairobi urban narrative as a space that affords the characters linguistic hybridity as well as one film that actualizes the linguistic hybridity that emerges in a film on Kinshasa. The paper will approach the task from the theory of hybridity as propounded by the social critic Homi Bhabha in his various writings. The three films to be analysed are Tosh Gitonga's Nairobi Half Life and Wanuri Kahiu's From a Whisper as well as Claus Wischmann's and Martin Baer's Kinshasa Symphony.

Panel P172
African indigenous languages as urban youth languages: the rural-urban exchange