Mariama Bâ, the Sengelese writer, was born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1929, and was educated--unlike many other women of her generation--at École Normale for girls in Rufisque. Brought up as a Muslim by maternal grandparents, she studied the Koran during school holidays.
Bâ began writing at school and in her early essays there are hints at the critical approach to society that she was to adopt in her later writing. A pioneer of women's rights, she became involved in several Senegalese women's organizations.
A schoolteacher and inspector by profession, Bâ promoted the crucial role of the writer in a developing country. She believed that the 'sacred mission' of the writer was to strike out 'at the archaic practices, traditions and customs that are not a real part of our precious cultural heritage'.
Bâ died tragically in 1981 after a long illness.