Two First Ladies At Presidential Palace In A Senegal First


In the closing moments of the electoral campaign, Senegal’s president-elect, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, stepped onto the stage holding the hands of both his wives Marie and Absa.

It was an unprecedented sight in the national politics of the West African country and a clear choice by the first-round winner who promises radical change.

Polygamy is a traditional and religious practice firmly anchored in the culture of Senegal where the overwhelming majority is Muslim.

Marie Khone, who until now had never been in the spotlight, comes from the same village as 44-year-old Faye. They married 15 years ago and have four children.

He married his second wife Absa just over a year ago.

“It’s the ultimate recognition of the tradition of polygamy at the top of the state, with a situation that will reflect Senegalese reality,” sociologist Djiby Diakhate said.

Polygamy has long stirred controversy and the public appearance by BDF, as he is known, with his two wives at his side cheered on by thousands of his supporters has made it a top talking point in the media, online and at home, sparking diverse reaction.

“Being a second wife suits me better than being a first,” well-known singer Mia Guisse said proudly in a video that recently went viral.

Reputed sociologist Fatou Sow Sarr said on X, formerly Twitter, that “polygamy, monogamy, polyandry are matrimonial models determined by the history of every nation”.

“These models are now in competition with homosexual marriage,” he added, in a country where homosexuality is punishable by between one and five years in jail.

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

Nevertheless, many Senegalese women say they find polygamy hypocritical and unfair, while the UN Human Rights Committee said in a 2022 report that it amounted to discrimination against women and should be ended.

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