OkayAfrica's 100 Women

100 Women: Susy Oludele and Alsarah On the Power of Following Your Passion

Nigerian-American hairstylist Susy Oludele and Sudanese-American musician, Alsarah sit down for an enlightening conversation about defying the odds and putting their aspirations first.

Two resilient women from our 2018 list of 100 groundbreaking African Women, Alsarah and Susy Oludele, have an inspirational conversation about their relatable struggles to pursue the career of their dreams.

Susy Oludele is a hair stylist, trendsetter and owner of Hair by Susy, a hair salon in Brooklyn, New York. As a proud Nigerian-American born in the Bronx, she built her brand with the intention to help women of all hair types embrace their natural beauty. Although her shop specializes in natural hair and natural hair extensions, with her magic touch, she speaks life into every hairstyle she creates.


Alsarah also wears many hats by as an ethnomusicologist, activist, singer, songwriter, and leader of the band Alsarah and the Nubatones. Being a product of Sudanese human rights activists, it is no surprise that she often uses music as an outlet to tackle world issues and the plight of Sudanese women.

Susy and Alsarah are transparent in their discussion while sharing testimonies about how they've evolved from once trying to adhere to what society paints as safe and sustainable careers for women, to fully pursuing their passions. Their experiences inspire women to break out of societal boxes and achieve their goals with steadfastness, no matter what obstacles come their way. As Susy puts it, "in the process it was just so stressful, "cause you don't know where you're going and then it's like you don't have that security. Sometimes in life you just gotta go for it."

Watch Alsarah and Susy's full conversation below and see the full list of 2018 honorees here.

This article appears as part of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2018—a project highlighting the impactful work done by African women across the globe. Throughout March, we will be publishing a series of profiles, videos, interviews and feature stories on these inspirational women. Click here to see the entire list of 2018 honorees.

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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