Niger’s First Female Journalist Mariama Keita Dies at 72

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Mariama Keita, Niger’s first female journalist, died Monday at the age of 72 following an illness, her family and local media said.

“We have just heard of the death of Mariama Keita, the doyenne of the Nigerien press,” Ibrahim Moussa, a close relative, wrote on his Facebook page.

Keita died on Monday in Turkey, according to a statement broadcast on the communication ministry television. Several local TV stations announced her death “following a long illness”.

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Born in 1946 in the capital Niamey, Keita was the director of Voix du Sahel, the state radio station where she started as an editor and presenter. From 2003 to 2006, she was president of the body responsible for media regulation in Niger.

Keita was also a figure in civil society and had headed the Co-ordination of Niger Women’s NGOs and Associations, a collective of about 50 groups, and the Association for Democracy, Freedom and Development, one of the first non-governmental organisations in the country.

She also worked to popularise the constitution in preparation for the poor West African country’s first democratic elections in 1993.

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