South Asia and Beyond

Senegal’s President Stirs Up Debate As He Takes Office With Two First Ladies

 Senegal’s President Stirs Up Debate As He Takes Office With Two First Ladies

Senegal’s President Diomaye Faye. Source: X

Senegal’s new president has stirred up an age-old debate in the country when he took office on Tuesday with two wives who will now be the two First Ladies of the country.  Bassirou Diomaye Faye who is the fifth president of the country had married Marie Khone, 15 years ago, from which he has two children. He then married his second wife Absa Faye, a Muslim, a year ago. The swearing-in of these two ladies has caused no problem in Senegal, which is a primarily Muslim country and polygamy is legal but not homosexuality.

The issue divides the country and though many supporters cheered the new president as he made an appearance with his two wives by his side, there has been discussion on the topic. Mia Guisse, a well known singer from the country  stated in a video that later went viral that “being a second wife suits me better than being a first.” Sociologist Fatou Sow Sarr also said on X, “polygamy, monogamy, polyandry are matrimonial models determined by the history of every nation.”

“I think that the West has no legitimacy to judge our cultures,” Sarr added in a follow-up message on X.

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

It is not just Senegal which follows this practice in Africa. According to the online news portal ghana.web Gambia’s president Adama Barrow who came into power in 2016 and is still in power, also has two wives first wife Fatoumatta Bah,  whom he married in 1997, and second wife, Sarjo Mballow. However, only Fatoumatta Bah is the First Lady of Gambia, while Mballow is only designated as Lady or Madame.

Many Senegalese women say they find polygamy hypocritical, and the UN Human Rights Committee said in a 2022 report that it amounted to discrimination against women and should be ended. The issue is a major topic in the country with many TV serials and films made on it. Bassirou Diomaye Faye’s swearing in will only add to the debate

Ashwin Ahmad

Traveller, bibliophile and wordsmith with a yen for international relations. A journalist and budding author of short fiction, life is a daily struggle to uncover the latest breaking story while attempting to be Hemingway in the self-same time. Focussed especially on Europe and West Asia, discussing Brexit, the Iran crisis and all matters related is a passion that endures to this day. Believes firmly that life without the written word is a life best not lived. That’s me, Ashwin Ahmad.