Aline Sitoe Diatta

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Aline Sitoe Diatta (also Aline Sitow Diatta and Alyn Sytoe Jata; 1920 – 1944) was a Senegalese heroine of the opposition to French colonialism, often called the Joan of Arc or the Marianne of Senegal. A Diola leader of a local religious group living in the village of Kabrousse, Basse Casamance, Aline Sitoe Diatta was one of the leaders of a tax resistance movement during the Second World War but was not royalty.

Diatta was born in Kabrousse. She was orphaned and adopted by her uncle, Elubaliin Diatta. He died a few years after her adoption in a Ziguinchor jail. Diatta left the village of Kabrousse to work in Ziguinchor, later moving on to Dakar and making her residence in Médina.[1]

The MV Aline Sitoé Diatta, christened in 2008 to travel the route from Dakar to Ziguinchor.

While Diola resistance had never really ended since the region was annexed to French West Africa in 1914, in 1942 the French government began seizing as much as half the area's rice harvest for their war effort. When a boycott begun by market women proved successful, the French authorities imprisoned the boycott's leadership. Aline Sitoe Diatta, an esteemed woman leader with a strong following. was believed to have religious powers and was marked out by authorities as a leader. She remained in prison, and was deported to a jail in Timbuctu, Mali in 1943. There she died of disease on 22 May 1944.

Since her death, Aline Sitoe Diatta has become one of the best known symbols of resistance in West Africa, and a national symbol in Senegal, especially in Casamance. The Girls University Students Hostel Campus in Dakar, near Cheikh Anta Diop University is named cité Aline Sitoé Diatta, the main Stadium in Ziguinchor bears her name as well, and numerous schools, businesses, and organizations are named after her. The passenger ferry MV Aline Sitoe Diatta is named for her.

In 2008 an unofficial fantasy coin of the "Kingdom" of Kabrousse was issued honoring "Reine Aline Sitoé Diatta" (Queen Aline Sitoé Diatta). The coin refers to her as "La femme qui était plus qu'un homme": the woman who was more than a man.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Schwarz-Bart 2002, pp. 60–62

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