This content section has been deprecated.
Please help us clean up the page by moving the content from this section into other relevant sections. Once it has been emptied this section will no longer appear on the page but the edit history will still be available in the page's history.
Mariama Bâ (1929-1981) was a Senegalese author and feminist, who wrote in French. Born in Dakar, she was raised a Muslim, but at an early age came to criticise what she perceived as inequalities between the sexes resulting from African and Islamic traditions. Raised by her traditional grandparents, she had to struggle even to gain an education, because they did not believe that girls should be taught. Bâ later married a Senegalese member of Parliament, Obèye Diop, but divorced him and was left to care for their nine children.
Her frustration with the fate of African women—as well as her ultimate acceptance of it—is expressed in her first novel, So Long a Letter. In it she depicts the sorrow and resignation of a woman who must share the mourning for her late husband with his second, younger wife. Abiola Irele called it "the most deeply felt presentation of the female condition in African fiction". This short book was awarded the first Noma Prize for Publishing in Africa in 1980.<1>
Bâ died a year later after a protracted illness, before her second novel, Scarlet Song, which describes the hardships a woman faces when her husband abandons her for a younger woman he knew at youth, was published.
Mariama Ba is a novelist, a teacher and feminist, who was active from 1979 to 1981 in Senegal, West Africa. Ba’s source of determination and engagement came from her background, her parent’s life and her schooling. Indeed, her contribution is significant because she explained and portrayed the disadvantage position of women in general and especially married women. This situation led her to focus her work on women’s consideration and to show people how this grandmother, this mother, this sister, this daughter, this cousin and this friend is the “mother of Africa” and how important she is for the society.
The historian Nzegwu has contended that Mariama’s life was rich in events. Ba was born in Dakar Senegal in 1929, into an educated and well-to-do Senegalese family where she grew up. Her father was a career civil servant who became one of the first ministers of state. He was the Minister of Health in 1956 while her grand father was an interpreter in the French occupation regime.
After her mother’s death, Ba was largely raised in the traditional manner by her maternal grandparents. She received her early education in French, while at the same time attending Koranic school.
Mariama wrote many books openly sharing her thoughts and feelings, including: So Long a Letter (1981), Scarlet Songs (1986), and La fonction politique des littératures Africaines écrites (The Political Function of African Written Literatures) (1981).