Sister Fa’s “Milyamba”

by Branford Bland

Sister Fa is a rapper and activist that is doing some brave and revolutionary things in her community. She comes from a community where it is culturally accepted to perform female genital mutilation also known as FGM or cutting. Female genital mutilation is the act of cuting portion of or all of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. The act makes intercourse for women painful and originated as a way to deter young women from engaging in promiscuous activity. This surgery is illegal in most countries, yet it was still being performed for religious reasons in Sudan and Somalia. Although it is a horrific and barbaric operation it is performed on roughly 90% of young women around the age of puberty. Sister Fa is one women who was affected by this operation and now she is using her platform as a rapper to raise awareness about the oppressive nature of the surgery. Due to the cultural acceptance of the act, Sister Ma is fighting an uphill battle, but she is passionate about enacting change in her people’s perception.

Sister Fa’s song, “Milyamba” is completely in French, so I was forced to translate it in google translate to get a understanding of what she is saying. What I was able to gather is she is talking about the hard life women have to endure. One line talks about some other women going shopping in thier nice cars while she walks kilometers with her child on her back to get things her family needs from the rice fields. She continues to call out this other person for relaxing and taking mid day naps in an air conditioned room while she is toiling in harsh conditons slaving away to provide for her family. The song solemnly ends with Sister Fa saying that by the end of the day she is so tired and sore that she has to sleep, so she rests on a mattress on the floor and she is harrassed by bugs that almost interrupt her sleep. I believe the point of the song is not to solicit sympathy but to point to the strength of her people.

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