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Wednesday 23 April  
Sister Fa
Bram Posthumus's picture
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Dakar, Senegal
Dakar, Senegal

Rapper Sister Fa: I'm a victim of female circumcision

Published on : 4 February 2011 - 5:36pm | By Bram Posthumus (Photo: www.sisterfa.com)
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"I was born and grew up in Dakar. I moved to Casamance when I was 14. Three years later, I left the south to come back here in Dakar."

How was the music scene in Senegal during your youth?
"In the past, it was not easy to be in a male environment, I mean in hip-hop. The role of the African women is at home: to cook and get married. So it was very complicated. Especially since music didn’t pay much at the time."

What’s the connection between Sister Fa and hip hop?
"I was born a rebel. I always said to myself: It's not fair, that's not normal! At one point I found myself in the south and I saw how women were working hard. How people suffered. And how they could not express this pain. How they could not share it with others. I thought, there’s something wrong here.”

"There was a music who could give a voice to these people. It was rap. Mbalax was not really the right music for criticism. Instead, it was to glorify people, to speak of love, beauty and wealth. With my way of being, my character, rap was the only music that could work with what I wanted to do."

You started with hip hop in 2000. Have you inspired other women to rap?
"Other girls followed, but unfortunately there is only one female hip hop album that came out since. It's unfortunate. I think the producers in this medium are not too interested in girls. And I think the girls in Senegal have a handicap, which is to be a daughter. But I think if they believe in themselves, they can bring about change.”

Rebellion is in the words. You are dealing with issues such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation. How important is this for you?

"It's more than important. But my struggle is not against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM, ed.). Me, I do not even use the word "mutilation," because mutilate means cutting with the intention to hurt. I say 'cutting'. I'm campaigning so that people would know that it is important that we can educate a child without going through certain practices that may harm his/her health. I've been a victim of this practice and I know its effect. It hurts. "

"As for forced marriage, I'm totally against it. The young girls of today prefer to commit suicide when they are forced to marry a man they dislike. It is still happening here. I think that's really unfortunate. For me, everything that affects human rights affect me."

But how big is the issue of female circumcision and forced marriage in Senegal?
"In my village, 89 percent of girls are circumcised. If you are not, you're marginalized. You cannot get married, you cannot cook for anyone. It is a criterion for a good marriage. You have to be circumcised. Even if your mother does not like it, she has to do it. To protect yourself against what? Against your own society."

"There are people who confuse things, especially Westerners. They think it's a barbaric act. That it is a mutilation. That it is terrible for a mother to mutilate her own child. It is not the case! It is one of the reasons for the failure of this communication to really try to erase this practice in my country."

What are Sister Fa’s projects in 2011?

"Music! And awareness through music. In Africa people enjoy listening to music. So we organise big outdoor concerts which are free. Young people turn out en masse. We seize the opportunity to pass the message. The future belongs to them.”

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