Nahawa Doumbia

Nahawa Doumbia
Volksbühne Berlin | general_use

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Nahawa Doumbia is one of the most popular singers of the Wassoulou region in South Mali. She speaks to the younger generation of West Africa through her lyrics about love, the position of women in society, and the situation of African refugees in France. Her voice soars to Didadi, a dance rhythm from her native area.

Nahawa Doumbia was born in the small town of Mafélé, in the district of Sikasso close to the border of the Ivory Coast. Her grandmother had to raise the newborn because Nahawa’s mother died shortly after giving birth. She grew up in Manankoro, near Bougouni, the most important city in the Wassoulou region. This area is well known for generating some of the best female singers in Mali, including Oumou Sangaré. Even though Nahawa Doumbia’s family was not part of the Jeli tradition (the Manding caste that performs music), Nahawa’s mother predicted before she died that her daughter would be a singer. This is something that her family tried to prevent, even with magical powers, but to no effect.

The young Malian woman was discovered by civil servants from the Ministry of Culture when she was singing with her friends. Despite her father’s opposition, she sang at the Youth Week in Bamako in 1980, a biannual event in which artists from all over the country participated. Nahawa Doumbia won the contest with the song „Tinye De Be Laban“. Since then and always accompanied by her husband, guitarist N’Gou Bagayoko, her fame grew in Mali and Europe. She shared the stages with Manu Dibango, Toure Kunda or Miriam Makeba.

In the more recent years she has been rediscovered via the reissue of her record on Awesome Tapes From Africa label receiving worldwide recognition.

We are glad to start 2020 with a powerful and fierce woman, a real diva.

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