by Pieter de Rooij
Throughout his musical career Youssou N’Dour has been able to share with his compatriots in Senegal, with Africans and with people all over the world, a message of tolerance, solidarity and sharing. Until last week expectations were high in his home country of how he would translate his hopeful dreaming into a political reality, as he was planning to run for president in the elections of February 2012. End of January 2012 however, Senegal’s highest court declared Youssou’s candidacy invalid, as – according to the court – he failed to file enough valid signatures to run for president. While Youssou was dismissed the court declared at the same time that 85 year old president Abdoulaye Wade was eligible to run for a third term in the February elections. A decision that led to concern all over the world and in Senegal to turmoil and protests and disbelief among Wade’s opponents, since the Senegalese constitution normally allows only two legal terms.
Now that his political aspirations are frustrated, people in Senegal and all over the world can, for the time being, only imagine how things could have developed if Youssou N’Dour would have run and won the elections. Perhaps nothing better illustrates – again in music – Youssou’s yet unfulfilled political aspirations than this video…
“I bring what I love” the video states, but will Youssou N’Dour ever be able to turn some of his aspirations about a ‘New Africa’ into a political reality outside of the dreamy realm of music?
Pieter de Rooij, anthropologist, works for the archives of Radio Netherlands Worldwide (Wereldomroep).