Fatou Diatta, aka Sister Fa is a Hip-Hop artist that was born in Dakar, Senegal. After reading about Senegal I was interested in exploring whether there were any female Hip-Hop artists there, and I discovered Sister Fa.
In 2010, digitaljournal.com posted a profile of Sister Fa that described her as courageous and determined, considering she has been able to break through in a country with, “young, marginalized males in a mainly Muslim country”. It goes on to explain how difficult it is to be a female artist in Africa, but to be a rapper is very unique. This is because rap is considered to be an “American phenomenon”, described as, “the music of young African Americans; the music of the rootless, those without hope”.
In 2011 Sister Fa became known when she appeared in a French documentary on Senegalese rap. Fa’s style sounds typical of the rap artists from Dakar; she sings mostly in French or in the Dakar native language called Wolof.
In a Sister Fa Bio online, a brief chronology of her connection to music is provided. In 2000 Fa recorded her first album; in 2003 she joined the label FN’F (Fight n’ Forget) and dedicated her performances to the fight against AIDs. In August 2005 Fa’s first solo album was released in Senegal, which she produced herself. With her growing popularity and notoriety gained, Fa became more involved in raising the consciousness of social issues related to the mistreatment of women in Senegal.
Another on-line publication, The Guardian, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, highlights Sister Fa in an article dated February 5, 2011. The article focused on her activism in campaigning against the widespread practice of female circumcision. The interview took place in Dakar, where Fa was on a tour called “Education Against Mutilation”; she definitely wants to be known as “a cultural ambassador”, who uses hip hop music that appeals to young people so that they will hear the message and understand that social and cultural changes are needed in Senegal, Africa.
The digital journal article states, “she sings about everyday life in her country, the poverty, the HIV AIDS problem, unemployment, female circumcision, and so on”. Her music is not in English, but here is one of her interviews:
This is an essay written by, Alex Perullo and John Fenn which can be found in the book Global Pop, Local Language by, Harris M. Berger and Michael Thomas Carroll. Since Hip Hop’s emergence in North America during the 1970’s and 1980’s, Hip Hop has become a global way for the youth to express their own local styles. This is no different in Tanzania and Malawi, two neighboring African countries. Both countries use English in their hip hop music, but Tanzania uses also Swahili and the Malawian youth use the language Chichewa. Author, Alex Perullo, states that Tanzanian hip hop in English reflects American hip hop in talking about the pleasure’s of life for example, parties, friends, and praise of the artist. Perullo then says that when the musicians use Swahili, the hip hop artist is usually conveying a message to the Tanzanian people about important social issues like lack of employment, corruption in the government, police brutality, and HIV/AIDS. Tanzanian hip hop artists have stayed away from some American themes found in rap music like violence, because it is seen as disrespectful by the Tanzanian people. Although English is the dominant political and economic language in Tanzania, it is only spoken by five percent of the population, so Swahili has become the most dominant language in the Tanzanian hip hop scene. Many Tanzanian hip hop artists use American rappers such as Tupac Shakur to learn the flow of hip hop music and once they have acquired the skills they develop themselves as Tanzanian hip hop artists. The creation of new words and the changing of the meaning of old Tanzanian words is core to the hip hop scene because this creates a common culture the youth of Tanzania are able to identify with. In Malawi, English is all over rap and hip hop music, but it is usually accompanied simultaneously by the language Chichewa. Much of the conversation about hip hop music in Malawi is done in English including newspapers, radio, and face to face dialogue, but the young hip hop artists of Malawi realize the importance of using the local Chichewa language when trying to convey certain messages in their music. The Malawian youth see hip hop as having important social functions as well as a way to effectively transmit meaning.