'Let’s sing, cut no more' - Using music to end FGM in Africa
We highlight this story from The Gambia to mark International Day of the Girl Child, celebrated annually on 11 October.
BANJULL, The Gambia - After four months of hard work, Sally Njie and Praise Gimba are proud to release their new song. ‘Cut No More’ delivers a catchy melody but it also shares an important message: warning about the risks of female genital mutilation (FGM). Even more impressive? It does this in three different languages – Wolof, Mandinka and English.
“This will make the message understood by different people in the community,” says Jama Jack, Project Mentor at partner organization Think Young Women.
Ms. Njie and Ms. Gimba are part of the Tuwezeshe Spotlight Fellows Programme, a one-year programme that is supported by the Spotlight Initiative and implemented by the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation and FORWARD UK.
Fifty young women in Africa and 16 in Europe underwent the training, which aims to eliminate FGM, child marriage and related forms of violence against women and girls by inspiring and nurturing leadership skills and activism among young women from Africa and the diaspora.
However, creating a song in different languages proved to be a challenge. “One obstacle we had with creating the song was language and choosing the right words to reach across the tribes. After our first recording was done and evaluated, we had to go back to the studio and re-record the song due to terminology issues with the Wolof word for ‘circumcision,’” explained Sally Njie.
“Our supervisor was helpful, she evaluated everything and even shared it with the rest of the team to help make necessary adjustments.”
Both the programme and the song were collaborative and global.
“We partnered with three organizations including Nairobi-based Akili Dada wa Africa; the Brussels-based End FGM European Network; and Think Young Women, based in Banjull, the Gambia,” said Executive Director of FORWARD, Ms Naana Otoo-Oyortey. “The initiative focused on virtual and in-person intensive feminist leadership training, a sub-grant and mentoring support to conduct social action projects and access to wellbeing support and sisterhood building.”
Ms. Njie and Ms. Gimba also reached out to social media influencers on different platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
“Most young people are active on social media platforms these days. So, it will be very hard not to come across our song on any of those platforms, especially when we have some influencers coming on board with the distribution,” said Ms. Njie.
Three female artists agreed to join the project and were involved in the entire song-writing process.
“As a team, we are thrilled. The song we worked on is really beautiful, very catchy and melodious,” said Ms. Gimba.
This piece was originally written by Fahmia Al-Fotih for the Spotlight Initiative. The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030.
To learn more about the results of the UN team's work in The Gambia, please visit: Gambia.UN.org.