MAMA AFRIKA AND EQUALITY EMPOWERMENT IN GUINEA
In April, music is her passion’s content will once again revolve around the state of equality empowerment and the music scene of one specific country, this time with a special focus on the West African nation of Guinea. After shining a light on many places in the world that our team has a special connection to, we decided to team up with external equality ambassadors for the first time: the Berlin-based non-profit organization and society Mama Afrika. Over the next few weeks, we will take a deep dive into Guinea’s current equality status, the work of MAMA AFRIKA - and why we believe that music and empowerment go hand in hand anywhere in the world.
Discussing numbers within the global gender inequality gap is a never-ending story, but actually doing so within many countries on the African continent is an issue that goes beyond the parameters of understanding global gender inequality. However, before one takes a closer look at the state of female empowerment in Guinea - let alone that in music - we must take a look at Guinea’s social and political set-up.
Today, in Guinea, female genital mutilation remains a widespread traditionalized practice, affecting a large percentage of women and girls in the country.
It is important to put the country's history in context to gain a broader perspective and holistic understanding. Despite the rich mineral resources, and agriculture being the main source of employment, Guinea is among the poorest countries in the world. More than 50% of the population lives below the recognized poverty line. Furthermore, before the rest of the world experienced the devastating consequences of rapidly spreading disease-causing an epidemic/pandemic, Guinea already knew. From 2013 on for a while three years, one of the deadliest epidemics in history completely took over the African country: the Ebola virus. On top of this horrible loss of life, Guineans of today also deal with the heritage of a rather turbulent political history of authoritarian regimes and military dictatorships. Next to conservative and patriarchal structures still ruling the majority of the country - especially in rural areas - girls and women suffer from another form of oppression unknown to many other machismo cultures of the world. Today, in Guinea, female genital mutilation remains a widespread traditionalized practice, affecting a large percentage of women and girls in the country. A women’s rights issue by definition, the ritualistic mutilation of the female sexual organs of little girls and women is deeply connected to other systems that oppress female Guineans and prevent them from living a life of equality. Other oppressive practices in Guinea and neighboring countries include child marriage, the discouragement of women to pursue an education or career, and the normalization of complete dependency on one’s spouse.
Through their work,Mama Afrika aim to dissemble cultural systems in which female genital mutilation is normalized as a rite of passage to womanhood.
Founded by Guinean-born Hadja Kitagbe Kaba in 2000, the Berlin-based non-profit organization MAMA AFRIKA strives to spread awareness of female genital mutilation in both West African communities and among Europeans. Through their work, they aim to dissemble cultural systems in which female genital mutilation is normalized as a rite of passage to womanhood. Besides it often being connected to life-long health complications and physical pain, female genital mutilation is just one piece to a puzzle that offers fewer resources for education and growth to women and girls. By building schools and kindergartens in Guinea, training medical personnel, and educating women on reproductive health and empowerment, MAMA AFRIKA - now led by the founder’s two children - aims to put an end to traditions of inequality. Unlike many ethically questionable non-profit organizations acting upon a white savior complex, MAMA AFRIKA inherited its deep understanding and appreciation for Guinean culture from founder Hadja Kitagbe Kaba and aims to empower equality in a sustainable and holistic way.
We decided to share our platform with the wonderful team of Mama Afrika this month because we believe that at our core, we fight the same fight: that of equality empowerment. Thus, in April, we want to shine a light on Guinea’s brightest female figureheads in music, showcase the power of music as an aggregator for cultural transformation and do our part spreading the word of the important work done by Mama Afrika, both in Europe and West Africa. While waiting for our next article, we encourage you to read all about the organization’s work, values, and goals on their website, and sponsor one of their future empowering endeavors with a donation!