The Diversity Within Us

Yaye Marie Ba has a passion for sharing the beauty, style and cultures of African people. On her blog she speaks with African women on many topics ranging from art to life. Her blog truly shows the diversity of Africa and the importance of learning from each other. We are pleased to have interviewed her and to share her thoughts with you.

Can you tell us about yourself?

My name is Yaye Marie Ba, I am half Senegalese and Guinean on my father’s side, and Malian on my maman’s side. I moved back to the capital of Senegal, Dakar, after having spent 10 years in the United States.

Can you describe your blog at www.yayemarieba.blogspot.com to us?  Why did you create this blog?  What do you hope to accomplish with this blog?

I started my blog close to four years ago out of curiosity and hunger for knowledge about my African culture. I wanted to know more about the youth of Africa, wanted to discover what we are all about. I wanted to find out what a Tunisian or Togolese young woman, for example, was all about. I know what we came from, but I didn’t know enough about where we are today in terms of social development, self confidence and entrepreneurship.

It started slowly, but today I’m proud to say that through this blog, I know that we’ve learned, and are still learning, how to keep our traditions and develop ourselves with Western ideas. Finding the right balance between the two can be hard sometimes, but I think that we’ll get there.

With this blog I wanted to personally educate myself and others as well as encourage young women and men to believe in ourselves. I think slavery and its consequences had for a long time made us believe that we wouldn’t be successful but today things are changing. The other thing that was important to me as well was to build a sense of community within the African people. A lot of time we aren’t really interested in other African cultures–it was all about our “peeps” within our own ethnicity group or country. I wanted us to be like “oh ok cool, this is what a Namibian woman is like, this is what it’s like for an Algerian man.” It’s important for us to  be proud of our differences and similarities as well.

Your blog is truly international.  You have a blogroll that links to over 30 African countries.  How long did it take you to develop and organize the blog?

Thank you (laughing). I think from the time I started to today there have been so many fabulous African bloggers out there. Just like any industry, we network, keep in touch, etcetera, and I figured that it would be cool to organize all these blogs. I made it so that if someone wanted to know more about a specific country or what a blogger from a specific place was about, they could just check their blogs.

Your blog has a strong Pan-African focus.  Why do you think it is so important to understand the black community from a global perspective?

It’s important for me because, for example, when you look at your country and continent, you know a bit about the culture of the South (Atlanta, Houston, etcetera), you know a bit about the west coast and east cost cultures, and no matter what state you come from you’re proud to be American. That’s one of the things that bothers me with my culture; We tend to say I’m proud to be African, but we don’t take the time to learn about other cultures and there are so many. For example, in Senegal there are various ethnicity groups–each one of these ethnicity groups has their languages, their traditional values and secrets and I’m just speaking here of Senegal. Africa has 53 countries so you can imagine how diverse we are.

Unfortunately, a lot of times, we are not curious about ourselves and tend to mainly focus on our own culture and that’s something that bothers me. I feel that we should at least try to understand or get a feel of the wealth of our African culture.

While I lived in the United States, I was blessed to be really close to 2 young African American women and through them I learned a bit more about African American culture. I think that it’s important for us black people to learn about each other.

Why did you decide to have your blog focus on women?

Simply because I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud of the way we handle struggles. I’m proud to be able to understand what it takes to be a woman. The people I mainly admire are women. I feel that it’s hard to be a woman, we tend to take so much, take care of ourselves, our communities, our families, husbands, boyfriends, children…a lot, and, maybe it’s my way of thanking women.

Your blog was featured in the November edition of ARISE Magazine. Congratulations! How did that opportunity come about?

Thank you! I was really honored to be featured in that one of a kind African magazine. They contacted me and nicely told me that they were interested in featuring me. I didn’t even know that they knew of my blog, so thank you Ariseeeeeee!

Anything else you want to share…?

I wanted to say thank you so much for this interest in me and my work. Thank you for your patience and for giving me a chance as a young African blogger to talk from my point of view to other black women from the world.

I believe some Live Unchained readers aren’t African and maybe my little experience will help people understand another black woman’s experience  in the world. I also wanted to add that I focus mainly on African people because there aren’t enough outlets that celebrate us.

Finally, what does living unchained mean to you?

Living unchained at this point of my life means learning how to live unchained (hahaha), honestly.

It means finding the true vision of your life and trying to paint it despite the struggles, despite the hurdles. Living unchained means living with honesty, courage and faith. Living unchained to me is waking every morning alive in good health and thanking God for having a chance each day to be able to be good to others and myself.

Let’s keep living unchained, eyeeeee wayee!

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4 responses to “The Diversity Within Us

  1. A wonderful interview. I’ll visit her blog right now.

  2. Big fans of hers! Great interview.

    XO

  3. It is truly beneficial to share such ideas, to be curious about the lives of others, to compare notes, and to see commonalities. It is in this way that we see that we are not alone in the world, and from this a greater unity can come about. Thank-you for sharing.

  4. “Simply because I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud of the way we handle struggles. I’m proud to be able to understand what it takes to be a woman.”

    I love it! I am a big fan of her blog. I admire everything that she showcases.

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