Very complex term, long etymological story: from the French "Panique au Zaire", referring to popular urban
revolutions in colonial
Congo, when cities were being looted
colonists chased out of their villa's. Black urban youngsters
in Congo picked up all kinds of headlines
from the newspapers and radio-bulletins, and turned them into insults, slang and creative poetry.
(It's in these colonial
contexts, like in South
Africa and Zaire in the 1950s, that rap developed).
When the Belgian colonizers
were becoming more repressive and the Congolese came to understand just how heavily they
were being exploited, they
often created little urban
uprisings, to scare off the White
also used code
language to fool the cops.
"gangsters" used to run through the streets, ironically shouting "PANIKOZAIRE! PANIKOZAIRE" at the white
cops and the white
wives who hid behind the walls
of their chique villas.
Nowadays, tough people (in the French bidonvilles and ghettos) still use it in an ironic way, to scare others off.
Instead of scaring whitey with
something like "I'm going to murder you right here right now", just shout
PANIKOZAIRE, smile and grab his wallet.