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The new Senegalese president is polygamous, his country will have two First Ladies

  • April 1, 2024
  • 4
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With a polygamous president, Senegal discovers political life with 2 First Ladies

Never in the history of the country has Senegal had two First Ladies at the same time. Just a few minutes before the end of the presidential campaign in Senegal, Bassirou Diomaye – The Best Of Bassirou Diomaye walked with measured steps on a platform holding the hands of his two wives, Marie and Absa. A scene never seen before in the national political space.

Applauded by thousands of jubilant supporters, the candidate of rupture and pan-Africanism chose to openly display his polygamy, a traditional and religious practice firmly anchored in Senegalese culture.

Little known until now, Marie Khone, the first woman he married fifteen years ago and with whom he has 4 children, comes from the same village as him. He married the second, Absa, a little over a year ago.

Polygamy has long been a subject of controversy in this country made up of more than 90% Muslims, but the public appearance of « BDF » surrounded by his two wives placed the subject at the heart of debates, in the media, on social networks and within households, provoking various reactions.

For the former Minister of Culture, history professor Penda Mbow, the new situation at the presidential palace “is completely new. Until now, there was only one First Lady. This means that the entire protocol must be reviewed”.

In response to his detractors, the new Senegalese president fully accepts his polygamy. “I have beautiful children because I have wonderful wives. They are very beautiful. And I thank God they are always behind me.”he declared during the presidential campaign.

Although it is difficult to quantify because many marriages are not registered, 32.5% of married Senegalese live in polygamous unions, according to a 2013 report from the National Agency for Statistics and Demography.

However, in 2024, many women in Senegal are speaking out against this practice, which they consider hypocritical, humiliating and unfair towards them. Without forgetting the UN Commission for Human Rights which judged in a report published in 2022 that polygamy constitutes discrimination against women which must be eradicated.

Le nouveau président sénégalais est polygame, son pays aura deux Premières dames

The new Senegalese president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye (center), surrounded by his two wives, Marie Khone Faye (left) and Absa Faye (right) in front of a polling station in Ndiaganiao, March 24, 2024. © Khadidiatou Sene, AFP (archives)

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