Ngeke Bengimele which translates to “I Can’t Stand It”, is performed by Zimbabwean artist Awa Khiwe. This song, in particular, is a great example of cultural representation, as the artist uses her own language and brings her own cultural styles. Cultural representation is important to music and to hip hop.
Ngeke Bengimele is an example of women in hip hop in Africa using braggadocio as a way to assert their position, while simultaneously highlighting the struggles women face in and outside of hip hop culture. You see this in the very first verse of the song as Awa Khiwe asserts herself as a queen, despite where she’s previously been:
“Look, I’ve been around and l’m still here
I’ve been a thug but l’m still Queen
From the dirt but I stay clean”
Awa also establishes herself as the most talented rapper (“Blood on my hands, I’ve been killing emcees”) and threatens anyone to cross her (“Mfana kumic I’m a predator, try me I’ll bury ya and force you to carry your cross”), which is a super powerful statement. I also noticed a sense of vulnerability in her verses as she touched on (what I interpreted as) a history of sexual abuse or peer pressure (“Wathinta mina wathinti mbokodo Walinga mina wavusa mathongo ayi nayimihlolo, ayy”). I found the juxtaposition between vulnerability with a “don’t test me” attitude to be very unique.
Throughout media in general (music, literature, film, etc.) we see a hyper-sexualization of black women. So artists and songs like this, that go against the “single story” of Black women that the media enforces, are extremely necessary. It is important to see female artists making a strong impact within hip hop culture, and I hope to see more throughout the whole diaspora.