In a remarkable moment in Senegal’s political landscape, Baserou Diomaie Faie, just minutes before the end of the country’s presidential election campaign, made a deliberate gesture on stage, holding the hands of his wives Marie and Absa. After receiving thunderous applause from thousands of supporters, the self-proclaimed “candidate for alienation and African unity” publicly revealed his polygamy, a traditional and religious practice deeply rooted in Senegalese culture, before winning the presidential election in the first round with 54.28% votes.

Fey’s first wife, Mary Khun, comes from his village. He married his second wife, Absa, about a year ago. Polygamy has always been a controversial topic in Senegal, a country that is over 90% Muslim. Fey’s public appearance with his two wives has reignited the discussion of polygamy in the media, on social networks and among families, provoking mixed reactions.

While many men in Senegal accept polygamy as a way to expand their family and provide for their wives and children, many women criticize it as discriminatory towards women. A 2022 report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee concluded that polygamy violates women’s rights and should be abolished. Senegalese writer Mariama Ba criticized polygamy in her novel “A Very Long Letter,” highlighting the suffering of women in such marriages.

Despite its prevalence in rural areas where it is seen as a way to strengthen family ties and expand resources, some see Fey’s public display of polygamy as a signal to other men to be transparent about their polygamous relationships. Fey took responsibility for his actions and thanked his wives for their support while emphasizing the beauty of their family unit.

With the election of a polygamous president like Fey, questions have arisen about protocol surrounding multiple women in the presidential palace. As more debates continue around this complex issue that highlights cultural contradictions within Senegal’s norms

By Samantha Johnson

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