Welcome back everybody! As I continue to discuss the music video “Classic Man” by Jidenna, this blog will shift gears and move towards discussing the portrayal of alcohol in the video. Consistently throughout the video, there are multiple party scenes in which everyone is dancing and having a good time. The common factor in all of these party scenes, however, is the alcohol. In nearly every party scene, the people in attendance are either holding an alcoholic beverage, or are surrounded by bottles and glasses. This sparked my interest in the significance of the alcohol throughout the video, if it was maybe trying to send a message,and how it may relate to African history.
The production and usage of alcohol in Africa has long touched on many different themes and issues, including economic, medical, social, and religious uses. There has been a large scale transformation is alcohol uses since the “traditional” patters from the pre-1800s, which were made up of fermented drinks, for example sorghum, millet beer, and palm wine (Bryceson 2004). These drinks were produced for ritual purposes in the colonial period. Also during this time, male elders living in urban or rural areas would produce sugar based and distilled alcoholic beverages. During this era was when drinking alcohol began to become more of a societal norm. I was surprised to find out that it was because of the increase of imported beer, as well as alcoholic beverages that were produced by states or agencies, specifically in Southern Africa (Bryceson 2014).
I also found that alcohol played a very significant and crucial role when it came to power and authority in the mid nineteenth century. During this time in East Africa, power was generally in the hands of elder men, and alcohol played a role in behavioral patterns of these men in power (Willis 2014). Willis also documented that women played a large role in the economy when it came to brewing alcohol. As I continued reading, I was very shocked to see that even though they did a majority in the work of producing alcohol, there was very little economic benefits for these women. It was very common for these drinkers to refuse to pay for the drinks they consumed, which I thought was ridiculous and surprised that that was tolerated. That also raises questions about gender roles and how the women were inferior to the powerful men that I mentioned earlier.
There were also multiple different responses to the alcohol consumption. Some people considered it a “desirable activity,” and a leisurely moment of pleasure, while others saw it as dangerous. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, some African men thought that bottled beer was dangerous, while in the 1950’s, it was seen as appropriate for educated men, and they began to think that fermented drinks were dangerous to health.
With so much background surrounding the topic of alcohol, I now have a good understanding of why it was such a prominent image throughout the video. This blog just scratches the surface of all there is to learn about it, so I strongly encourage you to check it out some more!
Maxon, Robert M. “Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne Des Études Africaines.” Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne Des Études Africaines, vol. 38, no. 2, 2004, pp. 437–441. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4107310.