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A rare occurrence: both of the President of Senegal’s wives present in the government palace


Apr 2, 2024

In an unusual scene in the Senegalese political arena, Basserou Diomaye Faye, minutes before the end of the country’s presidential election campaign, took deliberate steps on the podium, holding the hands of his wives, Marie and Absa. After thousands of supporters applauded him, the “candidate for estrangement and African unity” publicly revealed his polygamy, a traditional and religious practice deeply rooted in Senegalese culture, before his victory in the first round of the presidential elections with 54.28% of the votes.

Mary Khun, the first woman he married fifteen years ago, with whom he has four children, comes from his village, and he married the second woman, Absa, about a year ago. Sociologist Debi Diakhat said that this public display of polygamy by Fay is a consecration of the tradition at the top of the state hierarchy in Senegal, reflecting the country’s reality and cultural practices. However, this practice has sparked controversy as it is popular with many men but raises objections from many women.

Polygamy in Senegal has always been a topic of debate due to its implications on women’s rights. A report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded that polygamy constitutes discrimination against women and should be abolished. Senegalese writer Mariama Bah criticized polygamy in her novel, highlighting the suffering and challenges faced by women in such marriages. The practice of polygamy has been portrayed in popular Senegalese series, depicting the disturbances and tensions families experience.

Despite the widespread acceptance of polygamy in Senegal, especially in rural areas, there are voices advocating for its abolition and questioning its fairness towards women. Basserou Diomaye Faye’s public embrace of his polygamous relationships has sparked conversations about cultural practices, women’s rights, and the role of tradition in society. It remains a complex issue that continues to generate mixed reactions and discussions within Senegalese communities.

By editor

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