Skip to main content

Negotiating a Feminist Musical Language in a Twenty First Century Senegalese Muslim Society

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
African Languages and Literatures in the 21st Century
  • 208 Accesses

Abstract

This chapter examines the language of Muslim feminism as expressed in Senegal’s signature pop music genre called mbàllax. First, it defines and contextualizes Senegalese moderate Muslim feminism vis-à-vis global feminisms and as iterated in the country’s broader literary and artistic discourses. Then, it draws from selected Wolof pop songs to examine how female Senegalese Muslim musicians have used music to negotiate feminist expression and tease out latent patterns of gender inequity in a twenty-first-century majority-Muslim African country. In doing so, the chapter argues that the female mbàllax singers have created a modern musical language articulating a double-edged feminist social commentary that embodies a woman’s self-praise, on the one hand, and an anti-patriarchal satire, on the other.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 79.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 99.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 129.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Notes

  1. 1.

    For more on mbàllax composition, see Patricia Tang (2007).

  2. 2.

    Personal interview with the Artist, Summer 2016, Dakar, Senegal.

  3. 3.

    The rap songs of pioneer Senegalese female rap crew Alif’s provide examples of how the local scurrilous feminist poetry has penetrated female rap music in the country. Alif’s song, “Douta Mbaye” (Trickery, 2014) is one among many examples where they take on men’s abuse of women.

  4. 4.

    Qur’an, Al-Nisa (The Women), 34.

  5. 5.

    (1) Personal Interview with the Artist; (2) Cheikhou Gueye (Saanex); Aziz Niane; Cheikh Ndiaye, Interview with Kine Lam, In “Ngonal” TV Show, first aired on TFM TV on December 14, 2016.

  6. 6.

    In the traditional Senegalese Muslim society, the wife moves over to the husband’s house after marriage.

  7. 7.

    Sabadoor is a Senegalese type of men’s dressing suit.

References

  • Alloulla, M. (1997). The colonial harem. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Andrade, S. Z. (2011). The nation writ small: African fictions and feminism, 1958–1988. Durham: Duke University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Bâ, M. (1981). So long a letter. London, UK: Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bâ, M. (1995). Scarlet song. London: Pearson.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barlas, A. (2002). “Believing women” in Islam: Unreading patriarchal interpretations of the Qur’an. Austin, TX: University of Texas.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cissé, M. (2005). Langues, état et société au Sénégal. Revue Electronique Internationale de sciences du Langage Sudlangues, 5, 99–133.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cissé, M. (2011). Langues et glottopolitique au Sénégal. Ethiopiques.

    Google Scholar 

  • Collins, P. H. (2009). Black feminist thought. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • El Nagah, H. A. (2017). Voices from the diaspora: Towards a gender sensitive re-reading of the Qur’an. In H. A. Nagah (Ed.), Muslim women in Africa & the diaspora. JENdA: A Journal of Culture & African Women Studies.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gqola, P. D. (2001). Ufanele Uqavile: Blackwomen, feminisms and postcoloniality in Africa. Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equity, 16(50), 11–12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gueye, M. (2010). Woyyi Céet: Senegalese women’s oral discourses on marriage and womanhood. Research in African Literatures, 41(4), 65–86.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hooks, B. (1990). Ain’t I a woman: Black women and feminism. London: Pluto Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jagne, P. N. (1999). Postcolonial African writers: A bio-bibliographical critical sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lo, F. (2016, April 8). Mbalax in Senegal. Retrieved from music in Africa. http://musicinafrica.net/mbalax-senegal?language=en.

  • Malherbe, M., & Fall, C. (2010). Parlons Wolof: langue et culture. Paris, France: Harmattan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mc Laughlin, F. (2008). On the origins of urban Wolof: Evidence from Louis Descemet’s 1864 phrase book. Language in Society, 37(5), 713–735.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meechan, M. A. (1995). Orphan categories in bilingual discourse: Adjectivization strategies in Wolof-French and Fongbe-French. Language Variation and Change, 7(2), 169–194.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ndour, S. (2012). Industrie musicale au Sénégal: étude d’une évolution. In V. Y. Mudimbe (Ed.), Contemporary African cultural productions (pp. 129–176). Dakar: CCODESRIA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ngom, F. (2006). Lexical borrowings as sociolinguistic variables in Saint-Louis, Senegal. Munich: Lincom Europa.

    Google Scholar 

  • Samb, M., & Ndiaye, B. (2013). Islam, genre et equité. In Revue d’études arabes et islamiques (pp. 101–138). Senegal: Imprimerie E.GE.REC.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sarr, A. (1986–1987). Histoire du Sine-Saloum. Introduction, bibliographie et notes par Charles Becker, Tome 46, Serie B, n° 3–4. Dakar: IFAN.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tang, P. (2007). Masters of the sabar: Wolof griot percussionists of Senegal. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tang, P. (2012). The rapper as modern griot: Reclaiming ancient traditions. In E. Charry (Ed.), Hip hop Africa: New African music in a globalizing world (pp. 74–91). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Taylor, C. (2007). A secular age. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thiauw, I. S. (2008). Les griots journalistes du Sénégal: les maîtres de la parole wolof entre tradition et modernité. Médiamorphoses, 137–143.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wadud, A. (1999). Qur’an and women: Rereading the sacred texts from a woman’s perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wadud, A. (2006). Inside the gender Jihad. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Camara, S. (2020). Negotiating a Feminist Musical Language in a Twenty First Century Senegalese Muslim Society. In: Lisanza, E., Muaka, L. (eds) African Languages and Literatures in the 21st Century. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-23479-9_10

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-23479-9_10

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-23478-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-23479-9

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)

Publish with us

Policies and ethics