Oumou Sangare (born 1968)
Singer, songwriter and campaigner from the Wassoulou region of Mali, Sangare has for the past fifteen years occupied a pivotal role in African feminism.
She has used her songs to give social commentary to the masses, being especially critical of polygamy (in Mali, under sharia’h law, a man is allowed to have up to four wives: Sangare’s own mother was abandoned by her father for his second wife, causing Sangare to grow up in poverty).
Her work – both the messages of her songs and also her position as an intelligent, independent woman in a male-dominated society – has caused a complete change in attitude across Mali. Polygamous marriages are now in decline and may well die out in the near future.
Other recent works have criticised domestic violence, inter-ethnic tension, racism towards migrant groups and the widening wealth gap between different social classes in West Africa.