Whether she’s singing in French, English or Bambara, French-Malian hip-hop artist Inna Modja is speaking out against injustice.
Born in Bamuko, Mali in 1984, Modja discovered American hip-hop at 14, teaching herself to rap in her native language, Bambara.
As an artist, Modja seeks to stand up for the population of her ravaged and repressed country Mali – and especially its women and girls.
She hopes talking about her own experience of female circumcision will encourage others not to feel ashamed.
“I was really broken by that, but I didn’t want to stay broken. I wanted to go as far as I could to show other women that you can do it, too. You don’t have to remain a victim.
“Female genital manipulation is meant to put you in a box, where you cannot be a woman, you just have to procreate… It’s beautiful to be a mother, but you can be a mother, be a woman, be a sister, be anything you want to be.
“I am a feminist and for me being a feminist is fighting for equal rights. It’s not against men, it’s just for women.”
Modja sees poor treatment of refugees – including the thousands who have fled Mali – as a problem for the whole world.
“They’re human beings. We have to give them a hand and make this world better… We have to care more about what’s going on outside of our homes. Being born in a country doesn’t mean that you deserve less than anyone else.
“The colour doesn’t mean anything now. We are in this world where we all come from somewhere else, we have all been immigrants. We have to see differently what immigrants are because generations before have been immigrants…Today we travel everywhere, we are from everywhere. We are like a big melting pot. That is what the world is – we have to start accepting it and accept others and their differences.”
Inna Modja will perform at WOMAD in New Plymouth this March.