Sister Fa: Senegalese Hip Hop Queen

Fatou Diatta, better known as Sister Fa, is a Senegalese rapper and was a pioneer for female Emcees in Senegal. She began her career in 2000, and was able to establish a tradition of rapping about serious social issues. In an interview, she stated: “I was born in Senegal and I am a survivor of FGM/C. I want to use my art to help protect children and in particular girls against all forms of violence,” says the international rapper and singer. As part of her Education Without Excision project, Sister Fa would tour each year with her group across Senegal in order to spark discussion about the dangers of female circumcision. She has collaborated with various organizations such as Tostan, World Vision, and Orchid Project in order to end the practice of FGM. She has helped launch a project with the African Union and African governments to help eradicate child marriage. She has performed in various music festivals in Africa, Europe and the United States, while also participating in events sponsored by the United Nations and UNICEF.

In terms of her music, she made her first demo tape as a teenager and was able to make a name for herself in the city’s male-dominated rap scene. Her rise to stardom was evident once she was able to work alongside other well known Senegalese hip hop artists and politicised groups such as Positive Black Soul and Daara J. Her father was a teacher and stated that he wanted a diplomat for a daughter. Sister Fa recalls her father as being very sceptical about her choice to pursue music up until he listened to her tapes and demos and realized that they were thought provoking. However, although her dad supported her choice and she was able to gain some success in this field, she was still expected to behave like other girls which is common in Senegalese culture. She states in an interview: “So what if you have a festival to play at – it’s your turn to cook this weekend.”

One of her most well known songs is “Milyamba” which talks about the life of rural women in Senegal. Fa can be seen singing out in the German capital in her video,“Milyamba”. Rapping over traditional African instruments, Sister Fa compares the hard life of village women with the more lavish lifestyle of city girls, both scenes she herself is familiar with. Therefore, one can see a juxtaposition of the wealthy and poor women who have to wake at 4 am every morning to walk many miles just to collect water. This juxtaposition is also seen throughout the lyrics. In the song she states: ” Well dressed this morning you go out and spend your time, You don’t take your time to walk slowly as in the spring, You do not give so much importance to the ones who say , That the life in the countryside is difficult, Because you little sister live the easy life, to go shopping you have your nice car” compared to “With the burning sun right in the middle of the day, We brave women work there in fields like slaves in one of these plantations,We take care of our harvest with attention, Avoiding to step on it, that is affection, While you in your well air-conditioned room.” Hence, this song aims to really portray the hardships of rural women in Senegal.

Sister Fa’s Facebook

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