Ama Baba: Inspiring action through words and storytelling

Ama Baba, a Black woman, in a light blue suite with white blouse

Ama Baba: Inspiring action through words and storytelling

Many advocates argue that “the pen is mightier than the sword,” and Ama Baba would certainly agree. A fourth-year JLM Scholar from Senegal, Baba uses storytelling to advocate for the causes that matter most to her.

“Writing has been a part of me since childhood,” Baba commented. “Words are so very important, so when you transmit them to other people, it's like they're listening to your story; they're envisioning you; they're listening to what you have to say.”

Baba grew up in northern Senegal and immigrated to Columbus as a high school student in 2014. After earning her associate degree in science from Columbus State Community College, she transferred to Ohio State through the James L. Moore Scholars Program and is now working toward her bachelor's degree in biological, food, and agricultural engineering.

She has never forgotten about her Senegalese roots, however, and she caters her writing toward students and issues in her homeland, where children's books in her native Fulani are rare but environmental degradation is rampant.

“There are almost no trees there; people are cutting down trees and destroying the environment,” Baba explained. “What is a better way to teach children about the importance of trees and the importance of the environment than through drawing and writing stories through the language that they could understand easily?”

As such, Baba wrote Tafsir and the Tree Planting Brigade, an illustrated children's book about grassroots environmental protection, she donates a portion of the book's revenue to communities in need. The book has even led schools in Senegal to start programs where children compete for prizes to plant and grow the largest tree.

Baba says earning this scholarship will help her achieve her educational goals, which include attending medical school to become a pediatric surgeon, and it has also inspired her to keep pursuing her goals of social change.