Wherever one sings Fatou's praise one would recognize the good women.
They would say: “Let us worship our husbands much more and try to emulate those who were good”.
(Fatou Gaye, lines 154-155)
The lines above, taken from a famous Wolof poem from Senegal, epitomize gender disparity within marriage based on Islam and speak to how the religion is used to subordinate women within matrimony in West African Muslim households. This poem that I deliberately titled “Fatou Gaye” (The woman in whose honor it was composed) has been circulating in Senegal for at least three decades. It has been playing on radio stations and music stalls at the market ever since I can remember. Its fame derives mainly from the fact that it is composed and performed in a Wolof that most Senegalese people consider authentic and uncorrupted by the French language. Despite the poem's popularity, not much has been done to study it. Composed by a man named Eladji Gaye in honor of his deceased wife, Fatou Gaye, the poem i...