A new feminist wave in African song

Singers who speak out to advocate the emancipation of women on the African continent, it is not new. Women standing, resistant, many are those who have changed mentalities. In the wake of their “big sisters”, others take up the torch with the same ardor.

Two female groups whose first album (without a name) appears simultaneously, testify to the durability of this feminist activism expressed in music: in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo, the vocal quintet Les Mamans du Congo, associated with the French beatmaker and producer Rrobin, and then, more than 2,000 kilometers as the crow flies, the Star Feminine Band, bringing together seven young singing girls and musicians aged 10 to 16, created in Natitingou, Benin’s fourth city.

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« I am a tireless activist for the cause of women, I protest against the mistreatment they suffer in the home where barely married young girls must do everything, including taking care of the mother-in-law. I feel deeply feminist. ” From her house, located near the Djoue river, in the heart of Brazzaville, Gladys Samba, known as Maman Glad ‘, singer and percussionist leader of the group Les Mamans du Congo, but also plastic arts teacher, cook, forty-something mother of four children , tells us about the flame that animates it and that it sings.

It is 4 pm, the rain calmed down on Sunday, November 15. She had earlier interrupted our telephone conversation. “I also want to tell women that they can work, set up small businesses”, Mama Glad ‘continues.

Traditional lullabies

She herself created Espace Kudia in Brazza in 2010, a kind of cabaret-restaurant where artists can meet, currently closed due to Covid-19, explains the singer. After different musical experiences and a first album (Absence), she gathered around her in 2018 four singers to create Les Mamans du Congo.

The Star Feminine Band, in 2019, in Natitingou, Benin.

At the initiative of the French Institute of Congo, the Coopérative de Mai (concert hall of the Auvergne metropolis Clermont-Ferrand) and the Lyon label Jarring Effects, the meeting organized in Brazzaville with the beatmaker Rrobin resulted in an album which Maman Glad ‘wrote all the texts, sometimes adapting traditional lullabies (“That today’s mothers unfortunately tend to forget »).

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