Graffiti Art: a Call for Gender Equality on the Walls of Dakar

Artist Dieynaba Sidibe is Fighting for Female Empowerment with Spray Cans

July 14th, 2015
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Dieynaba Sidibe is Dakar’s first female graffiti artist, and one to be reckoned with. Over the past 7 years, the 24 year old artist has established her position in a male-dominated hip hop community, despite the disapproval of her family and Dakar society, to become one of Senegal’s leading graffiti artists. Graffiti has recently become a popular means of expression in West Africa. Especially in Dakar, it has become the voice of a generation eager to communicate the issues that affect them and the solutions they can propose. Artists use graffiti as a tool for social change and a platform for political claims.

Dieynaba, who goes by the artist name “Zienixx”, wishes to use her art to promote women’s rights. She has a lot of claims to make in a traditional South African society that is still quite patriarchal. The young artist wants people to see that women are strong and independent, that they fight to live the life they want, just like “Zienixx” who pursued her passion against the will of her family at first. They now proudly support her, but many people still disapprove of female graffiti artists – while complimenting the work of male artists. Dieynaba believes that graffiti is a powerful medium to convey social messages. Notably, they can reach a wide audience and give concrete visibility to unspoken issues. Dieynaba has painted since she was a teenager. She moved from canvas to walls because the latter can carry messages to a public forum. On Dakar’s walls, her work has the potential to make people more aware of inequality, and to illustrate the strength women display in their daily lives. Her graffiti pays a colorful tribune in a public space to women who are usually socially and spatially marginalized.

 Today, Dieynaba Sidibe is a well-known and respected artist. She was even invited to a graffiti festival in France in 2012, and she participated in Dakar’s first international graffiti festival last April. This shows that graffiti art, and its use for social activism, has become a focal point for discussion on social issues across cultures and countries. Zienixx is a trailblazer in the hip hop community. Her journey will inspire other young women to join her or to follow their own passion. 


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Chlo Francisco, Cultural Diplomacy News, Berlin