Ndeye Fatou Diery Diagne: shining the light on women
Ndeye Fatou Diery Diagne, 26, a cheerful and radiant web journalist for the Senegalese daily newspaper Le Soleil, speaks about women’s rights and the problems faced by women. Profile by Emmanuel de Solère Stintzy.
Mami. Do not be fooled by this nickname (which means granny) inherited from her paternal grandmother. At 26, Ndeye Fatou Diery Diagne is a young, smiling and cheerful Senegalese woman with her finger firmly on the pulse. On her Fem'actu page on TikTok and Facebook, she speaks directly to the camera and offers young people all manner of advice in both Wolof and French. Examples include the consequences of depigmenting the skin or taking drugs.
However, the Le Soleil web journalist is also firmly grounded in her family values: “My parents are my idols. During her life, my mother often asked me, 'What good is it talking about others? You need to look to your own failings first!’' I've got her resilience. As for my father, it’s more the way he raised his children. In journalism, I don’t really have an idol. Instead I have mentors.”
The first name to emerge from Diery’s professional memories is Aminata Sophie Dièye, who died in 2016. A columnist at daily newspaper L’Obs, writing under the pseudonym Ndèye Takhawalou (a play on words on roving mother): “Based on her stories about being a free woman, I used to practise making TV shows.”
Inspired by her parents, who were avid readers, she fell in love with books, a passion that will never leave her: “When I was about seven, my father registered me at the library. I always had a book in my bag. As soon as I returned it, I would take another. Reading developed my curiosity.”
Ensuring that women’s voices are heard
Awarded the honour of best pupil in her final year at Lamine Gueye high school in Dakar, Ndeye Fatou Diery Diagne is her family’s pride and joy. Adja Thioro, her younger sister, recalls: “She was the model big sister and always got good grades at school! She also asked so many questions. I knew she would be a thorough and responsible journalist.”
Diery even finished top of her year at Cesti, the Dakar centre for information technology and scientific studies. During her studies, she undertook internships at the publication L'Enquête, and then at the large national daily Le Soleil: “I once asked the editorial director why there were so few women there!” she recalls with a laugh.
As a journalist on the website https://lesoleil.sn/, she has been practising what she preaches since 2020: “I am a feminist, because, in Senegal, women are often scared to speak out and stand up for their rights. The stories I cover, which sometimes make the front page, give rise to debate among the public, such as the right to refuse paternity laid down in our Family Code...”
Alcohol, drugs, skin depigmentation...
Moussa Diop, her former Head of Web/Tech at Le Soleil is not surprised by the consistency of her commitments: “Even when she was still an intern with us, Diery took an interest in digital journalism and the subjects of health and feminism. She covered conventional stories such as maternity, but she also wrote about cyber-bullying. Her articles had lots of views and shares. I remember telling her: ‘‘within ten years, you’ll be in my position, you’ll be running a department!”
Ambitious yet reserved and as wise as an elder, Mami likes to move forward step by step, learning continuously along the way. In this way, she has been able to incorporate new ideas such as fact checking into her web articles and on her Fem'actu page on TikTok and Facebook: “Thanks to the support from the CFI coaches, I am using tools and developing certain reflexes. For example, before talking about the health consequences of food supplements, I meet with doctors.”
Dior Dieng, her friend since high school, gives her view: “Diery is different from other journalists who want to be on television. Instead, she works closely with young people and women. On social media, she speaks about subjects that are a bit taboo in Senegal: alcohol and drug use among young people and even skin depigmentation. Speaking about these things is the first step, because some people depigment their skin just to be accepted in society... We need to accept ourselves as we are!”
With her omnipresent smile, and laugh that lies just beneath the surface, always ready to burst out, Ndeye Fatou Diery Diagne shines as she focuses the spotlight on women.
In ten years…
As Adja Thioro Diagne, her little sister, already told us: “Mami laughs all the time! Sometimes, even when I’m annoyed, she keep giggling!” But, when it comes down to it, her elder sister does not joke when it comes to her passion...
Adja goes on to say: “In ten years, I see her heading up a very large media company. She is invested in this profession, it’s her dream.” When we ask Ndeye Fatou Diery Diagne about her future, she starts, unsurprisingly, with a laugh...
Then she answers, with a mischievous smile: “If I say that in ten years I still want to be reporting for Le Soleil, they’ll tell me I lack ambition... So, let’s say “distinguished reporter” to celebrate Senegalese journalism!”
One of her managers, Omar Diouf, editor-in-chief of the digital department at Le Soleil looks at her and jokes: “In a few years, I see her heading up a multi-media newsroom because she is an all-round journalist. But not a newsroom of older people, because she would get a bit annoyed!”
Others see her leaving the profession in a few years. “I see her working in communications for the United Nations on subjects associated with children and women,” explains Moussa Diop, her former manager in the Web/Tech department at Le Soleil. Dior Dieng even sees her friend on a new career path: “In ten years, she will be an elected deputy or minister, or even President of Senegal!”
At the prospect of a future in politics, Diery smiles and gives a vague answer: “I have lots of projects in journalism and communications, but I admit I have also thought about politics. Committing to the cause of women and the environment is also a possibility...”
It is no coincidence that Ndeye Fatou Diery Diagne is currently in the second year of a master’s degree in communications for development at Cesti in Dakar, taking options in environment, health and social marketing.