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Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. Mariama Ba – Groundbreaking Writer, Feminist, and Activist

Mariama Ba – Groundbreaking Writer, Feminist, and Activist

Mariama Ba is our SmartGirl for today. She was a groundbreaking Senegalese writer, feminist, and activist. Her tireless work for the betterment of African women has made her an icon in her home country and beyond. Through her enthralling stories, Mariama documented the struggles of women in developing countries and sparked debate on gender politics in Africa.

Drawing from her own personal experiences, Mariama inspired generations of African women to take control of their lives and fight for basic rights through education and female solidarity. Mariama Ba stands as a beacon of hope and proof that with conviction, perseverance, and ambition anything is possible. Her work continues to be an inspiration for women all around the world today.

The Early Life Of Mariama Ba

Ba was born in a relatively educated and well to do Senegalese family, in 1929. Her father was one of the very first ministers of state in Senegal. Her mother passed on when she was little and had to be raised by her grandma while she attended a French School. Ba grew up during the colonial revolution when girls’ education was not considered of importance.

Her own grandparents did not believe that girls should even be educated beyond primary school but her father insisted that Ba was to be given an opportunity to continue her studies. Ba later trained to be a teacher by joining a teacher’s training college in Dakar. After teaching for a few years, Ba later became an educational inspector in Senegal.

Love & Marriage

Mariama Ba is well-known for her novels and activism, but she also had a long, winding love life. Though she was only married three times, Mariama Ba had nine children! Her first two marriages were quite short-lived but her third marriage to a Senegalese member of parliament, Obeye Diop lasted longer than the others. However, Mariama and Obeye eventually decided to part ways and divorced in the end. Through these marriages Mariama Ba was able to raise a large family and live a full life before her eventual death in 1981.

Literary Work

Ba wrote many literary works that documented the plight of the girl child in Africa. She wrote, So Long a Letter– a book expressing her frustration with the fate of African women and Scarlet Song that deals with the need for women to create a space where they are not considered the weaker gender. Although Ba fought for women’s rights in her literary works, she did not accept to be labelled a feminist because to her, the term was loaded with Western value.

Ba neither agreed with the traditional Senegalese Muslim values for women although being born a Muslim, Ba acknowledged that there is still so much injustice affecting women, in the family, in the society, in political organisations. She encouraged women to work for their future, to overthrow the status quo which harms them and to no longer submit to it. She urged women to use literature as a non-violent but effective weapon to air their issues.

The Legacy Of Mariama Ba

Despite the fact that Mariama Ba has left this world, her legacy and influence remain alive through her work and family. In 2007, her daughter published a biography of Ba to celebrate her fight for women rights and literary accomplishments. In 1977 The Mariama Ba Boarding school for girls was founded to cater to brilliant young girls who wanted to further their studies.

The power of Mariama Ba’s writings go beyond inspiring young women; they continue to move people in order to advance art, education and social justice around the world. It is easy to see why we have chosen Ba as one of our SmartGirls and how she continues to serve life lessons and ongoing source of inspiration for young women everywhere.

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Founder, Smart Girl, Survivor, Champion of womens rights and kids rights


Smart Girl Stories shares stories of inspiration from writers across the globe.

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