With a smile: this is how the Gabonese artist Pamela Badjogo, who visits Ecuador for a series of live performances and workshops at the headquarters of the Alliance Française in Guayaquil and the Pumapungo Theater in Cuenca, wants to put her activism on her music.

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It’s his first time visiting the country, and what he liked the most so far was the food, especially the bun. “The bun looks like African food…the plantain is also prepared exactly as we do,” emphasizes the 40-year-old singer.

Badjogo’s music is a fusion of Afripop and jazz. The African identity he imprints on his music is something he is close to: during the interview, he wears a large earring in his right ear in the shape of the African continent.

Although she sings in French, Bambara and Bakaningui (her mother tongue) in her performances, she hopes that the music transcends language. “We will definitely make people understand and dance, and some sweetness and groove African,” he adds.

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Her music has taken her to important stages: she performed at the opening of the final of the African Cup of Nations, a football tournament between different African teams. On that occasion, the final was played by the teams of Egypt and Cameroon. When they called her to suggest she sing, she remembers thinking, “For me? All that money for me? Okay,’ he recalls with a smile.

“It was crazy to sing in front of all the presidents and in front of 40,000 people. They woke me up for two hours. I already wanted them to stop touching my face,” he jokes.

The singer-songwriter is a staunch champion of women’s rights. Her struggle began when she was little: “I lived in a culture where women often don’t have the privilege of deciding what to do with their lives,” she says. Her desire for independence led her to clash with her father, who “never wanted” Badjogo to pursue music.

The singer pleased her father and studied microbiology. She completed her studies in Bali and says she met “many women” there who were victims of female genital mutilation, a process in which external female genital structures, such as the clitoris, are removed. Female genital mutilation is considered a human rights violation by the United Nations.

“I decided that someone had to speak, and that’s me,” the artist recalls. “What I choose with my music is talking about serious topics with fun and a smile.” There are many feminist activists, she says, whose important message gets lost in the way they convey it, because “they fight because they speak out.”

“That’s just the way people don’t want me to be a woman. So they call us hysterical and don’t listen to what we say,” she says. He also makes jokes in his lyrics about the topics he deals with, and that works for him.

Many young people, he says, dance and laugh at his concerts and understand the message he wants to convey. But, she notes, “she’s happy” to work with women who express their activism in different ways.

He had an experience with young Ecuadorians through a workshop organized by the French Alliance. She found it interesting to learn something about the reality of the country “through the eyes of children”: some told her about the security crisis, others about feminism, and some took the opportunity to tell the singer their dreams of becoming a recognized musician to become.

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Badjogo appeared in Guayaquil on Wednesday, March 22, at the headquarters of the French Alliance in central Guayaquil. He will play on Saturday, March 25 at 7 p.m. in Cuenca at the Pumapungo Theater. Access to the event is free.