Sister Fa: A Human Rights Activist

Sister Fa, formerly known as Fatou Diatta, was born in Dakar, Senegal. She debuted her first demo tape in 2000 and officially entered the stage or West African rap. Her songs are meant to expose the realities of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

As a child, she herself was subjected to FGM. She sings in both French and Wolof. One song “Sama Yeene” is sung in Wolof and features K2. She shows a clear appreciation for her culture, as the video is located in the Dakar streets. You see the markets, people praying, traditional dress, but most of all Senegalese pride. Sister Fa makes a point of releasing music solely to the Senegalese market, which is a great way to pay tribute to her roots. She tours around the world informing communities about FGM. In her own community of Thionck Essyl, the practice of cutting young girls has been completely abandoned. Her song “Milyamba” is also partly in Wolof and partly French. Because there is a lack of Wolof dictionaries, since it is a largely spoken (mpt written) language, I will focus on the French part. She is liberal with her rhymes and employs slant and half rhymes that she makes work with her play with pronunciation. “You do not give so much importance to the one who claims that life in rural areas is difficult because [wolof] you only live easy things”. This is a rough translation, but the message is clear. The “you” could reference European/Western actors, but it could also reference those who perpetuate female oppression. She goes on to describe the juxtaposition of the wealthy with poor women who have to wake at 4 am every morning to walk many miles just for some water. The wolof portion of her song, although I do not understand what she is saying, shows a lot of repetition. She employs monorhymes throughout the chorus. The video itself shows the strength of women, namely African women. She is successful in utilizing symbols and language to allude to gender stereotypes and female inequality. She is recognized throughout Africa for her activism and humanitarian lyrics. While she does not reference American pop culture, she definitely confronts the patriarchy at a global level.

 

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