by AIGERIM SAPAROVA
It was just another song that you heard playing at the club last night. Your head was bobbing, body swaying, and you craved her flow and that bass like no other – you wanted it to play again and again.
Maybe you didn’t know that the lightning quick fire of “Ablua” is by TITICA, a 25-year-old kuduro pop star from Luanda, Angola.
Titica is a transsexual. For some, this may be an insignificant detail but for others it’s quite a pill to swallow. She’s also no stranger to prejudice. Titica has been beaten and stoned before. But growing up in a majority-Catholic country where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by hard labor has not diminished her sexual confidence and electric personality. In fact, she has quickly amassed a dedicated fan base and become the new face of kuduro, Angola’s unique urban rap-techno fusion music style. With rhymes on end, Titica could definitely go toe to toe with Azealia Banks.
“Ablua” is the second single off her first album, Chão, released in December 2011. Unless your feet are glued to the floor you can’t help but tap them to the rhythm of this bombastic track. 1:52 onward is quite brilliant—the way she stomps the earth and how clouds of smoke and dust sweep up from her feet. Perhaps this reflects Titica’s shaking up ideas about African gender and sexuality.
Titica was first involved with kuduro as a backup dancer for popular acts such as Noite e Dia, Própria Lixa, and Puto Portugeus. Since the adoption of her new persona five years back, Titica has compiled an impressive record of musical feats in the local Angolan music scene as well as other Portuguese-speaking countries.
The pop star was named Best Kuduro Artist of 2011 and she performed at The Divas Concert attended by Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Titica has been invited to perform for the Angolan consulate in Texas and her music is frequently a soundbite on Angola’s youth-driven television shows and radio stations. Her taboo sexuality hasn’t stopped her from garnering a global audience. Titica’s fans seem to be far more concerned with her music than her gender identity.
“Ohla o Boneco” is the first single off of her album Chão, which also features Ary, a popular Angolan kizomba singer. The ladies croon together to the listeners: “We are all different but all human, all equal, just one love.” “Ohla o Boneco” held the #1 spot for three weeks on the Portuguese program TOP+ and seven weeks on the Brazilian show Rolando Musica.
Ghana, Angola’s fellow African nation, has recently been in the midst of a perilous storm over the sexual freedom and human rights of its citizens. With the appointment of what Kumasi Online newspaper calls the “fiery human and gay rights advocate, Nana Oye Lithur” to the position of Minister in Ghana’s newly established Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, the conversation of whether all humans, including LGBT communities, should be entitled to equal human rights has raised rigorous debate amongst Ghanaians. Multiple anti-gay Ghanaian civic groups and journalists have blatantly illustrated their fury over Lithur’s political stance.
It’s difficult to sway public opinion, especially when it comes to an issue that so many people feel strongly about. More than ever, Ghana’s future beams with a bright potential that matches its hot West African sun. There is still a lot to learn, especially from groups like The Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana – and new opportunities to open up spaces of difference and inclusion for all Ghanaians.
Perhaps we can start by listening a little closer to Titica’s message again: “We are all different but all human, all equal.”