#Okay100Women

DR. NNEDI OKORAFOR

OkayAfrica's 100 Women celebrates African women who are making waves, shattering ceilings, and uplifting their communities.

Dr. Nnedi Okorafor is a stunning voice in African science fiction literature. Self described as a rudimentary cyborg, the Nigerian-American author and professor specializes in young adult fantasy focused on African and African American adolescents—particularly girls. She has some sci fi novels for us older readers, too.


When we think of young female characters with supernatural abilities, we imagine Buffy, Willow, the pink and yellow Power Rangers, or Sabrina the Teenage Witch—at least, those were the magical heroines I grew up with. Kids of color today have Okorafor’s characters, who not only possess great abilities and strength, but deal with the intersections of identity, culture, family and war, across galaxies, in their communities and even at school. This consciousness of the sphere of the African and black experience, dotted with magical realism and science fiction, makes Okorafor’s stories all the more compelling.

Okorafor has won several awards and accolades for her novels, including the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature and the Children’s Africana Book Award for Best Book for Young Readers, just to name a few, literally. Her most popular works include the Akata Witch Series, Binti and Who Fears Death.

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Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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