HHAP Episode 51: Roma Mkatoliki, Challenging Hip Hop Activism in Tanzania

In this episode of the Hip Hop African Podcast, we interview Tanzanian hip hop artist and activist Roma Mkatoliki about his more than a decade long career as a hip hop activist.

Roma Mkatoliki has always been known for producing music that addresses social and political issues, beginning with his first single “Tanzania“, which he released in 2007. The song was highlighted in the 2012 scholarly article Hip Hop as Social Commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam.

In April 2017, Roma and some of his colleagues disappeared for 3 days. This incident has put Roma at direct odds with the government. More recently, in November 2019, Roma released the single “Anaitwa Roma”, which was a direct criticism of government policies.

Roma has been a source of division in Tanzania’s hip hop community. There have been a lot of debates about who Roma is, and why he continues to be so vocal. His actions have shined a bright light on other artists who have also identified as being socially conscious. Many have chosen to criticize, or distance themselves from Roma. Some of this may be to avoid scrutiny over why they themselves have not been more vocal or active. Some artists may disagree with Roma’s views, and have criticized his methods and intentions. And, some artists may support Roma, but may not have been publicly vocal in that support.

Roma Mkatoliki’s talk with students from Howard University and George Washington University in our Hip Hop in Africa class

In this interview, however, it was clear that Roma Mkatoliki believes that he is doing the right thing. Our decision to interview Roma is not an endorsement of any one side. And, we are not able independently verify all of the information Roma provides during this interview. But, we feel it is important to have these conversations on diverse platforms. As a hip hop artists who is engaged in social and political commentary, it is important that Roma’s voice be heard on this platform.

The interview is done in both Swahili and English. I have attempted to summarize Roma’s responses in English, though he switches between Swahili and English in his responses.

The song that opens and closes the episode is Mkombozi, which was released in January 2020. This link takes you to the version of the song with the English subtitles.

Roma’s social media profiles are on

HHAP Episode 50: The Mixtape Episode P. 2

This episode is our second mixtape episode. The episode features the most recent works of 23 of Africa’s fiercest lyricists. All of songs featured on this episode were released in 2018 and 2019, and features women from across Africa, and African women who reside in the Diaspora. Some of the artists are fairly well known to followers of African hip hop scenes, while others are more up & coming. Some of the artists, like Burni Aman, EJ von Lyrik, and Jean Grae have been active for two decades. Others are new to the game, and quickly making a name for themselves. They also are diverse in their styles and the languages they rap in. The artists also differ in terms of content, some of the songs offer social commentary, some are displays of braggadicio, and some are simply about having a great time. The common thread is that they all represent some of the best lyricists out today.

It was important that all of the artists and songs in this episode be submitted and voted on by serious hip hop heads, people who are active in hip hop communities. So, thank you to the hip hop heads and experts who contributed to making this mixtape possible:

Mikko from Planet Earth Planet Rap
Ikenna aka Bionic from Rap Radio Africa
Seth Markle, Associate Professor and Faculty Advisor for the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival at Trinity College in the United States
Nimoh from Sauti Za Mabinti
Buddha Blaze, podcaster & talent manager
Xuman, Senegalese hip hop legend, pioneer, and avtivist
Elom 20ce, Togolese hip hop artists and activist and founder of Arctivism

Track List

Sampa The Great “Final Form” from The Return (2019) (Australia/Zambia)
EJ von Lyrik (with Roufaida) “Ego” (2019) (South Africa & The Netherlands /Morocco)
Burni Aman & Jean Grae “Masters of the Humanverse” (2019) (Switzerland/South Africa & U.S./South Africa)
Little Simz “101 FM” from Grey Area (2018) (UK/Nigeria)
Isatta Sheriff “Beat Therapy Freestyle” (2019) (UK/Sierra Leone)
Blaise “Hennessy Cypher” (2019) (Nigeria)
L-Ness “Freestyle ‘Peers w/Bars’” (Kenya)
Rouge “Rouge Freestyle on Sway” (2019) (South Africa/DRC)
Xtatic “Reignition” from Tatu EP (2019) (Kenya)
Abena Rockstar “Politically Incorrect” from Harvest Season (2019) (Ghana)
Eva Alordiah “Solo Life” (2019) (Nigeria)
Phlow “Hiphop” (2019) (Nigeria)
Lauretta Yemoja “Inferno” (2019) (Nigeria)
Moonaya “Il est temps” (2018) (Senegal)
Mina la Voilée “Girl Power” (2019) (Senegal)
Sista LB “Ji gën – Ladieme” (2019) (Senegal)
OMG “Lu Ci Sa Yoon” (2019) (Senegal)
Flash Marley (with Vicky R) “La Madre” (2019) (Togo)
Assessa “Izangoma” from Ugogo Ep (2018) (South Africa)
Kanyi Mavi “Umsindo” (2019) (South Africa)
Gigi Lamayne “Winnie” from Job Woods (2019) (South Africa)
Yugen Blakrok “Carbon Form” (2018) (South Africa)

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