Journal article

Sex, drugs and female agency: Why Siramori Diabaté’s song 'Nanyuman' was such a success in Mali and Guinea

G Counsel, J Jansen, B Camara

Journal of West African History | Michigan State University Press | Published : 2018


This article presents the lyrics of the song “Nanyuman” by Mali’s legendary female griot (bard) Siramori (Sira Mory) Diabaté (c. 1925–1989). It demonstrates how a female griot integrates into her songs topical moral discussions on the position of married women in the socialist-inspired nations of Guinea and Mali in the 1960s and 1970s. Through the voice of “Nanyuman,” the protagonist of the song, Siramori, comments in ways a male griot never could, discussing marriage, sex, men’s roles as husbands, motherhood, and even the use of stimulant drugs. This source publication shows that the remarkable rise of female griots in West Africa from the 1960s onwards can be explained by new topical debat..

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University of Melbourne Researchers