January 2012 Vol 3 No. 1
Runs For President
INTRODUCING HEART TO HEART
A newsdesk compilation
Youssou N'Dour, perhaps the greatest African musician of our time has announced he is running in February's presidential elections in Senegal. "I have listened... and I am responding favourably," Mr N'Dour said on his own TV network. Youssou N'Dour was born in Dakar to a Serer father. At age 12, he began to per- form and within a few years was perform- ing regularly with the Star Band, Dakar's most popular group during the early 1970s
In 1979, he formed his own ensemble, the Étoile de Dakar. His early work with the group was in the Latin style popular all over Africa during that time. In the 1980s he developed a unique sound with his ultimate group, Super Étoile de Dakar By 1991 he had opened his own record- ing studio, Xippi, and, by 1995, his own record label, Jololi. Youssou N'Dour is one of the most cele- brated African musicians in history
Mr N'Dour will run against incumbent 85 year old Abdoulaye Wade, who is seeking a controversial third term. Mr Wade's bid and changes he proposed to the constitution have prompted wide- spread unrest in recent months. Senegal is seen as one of the most dem- ocratic and stable countries in West Africa. It is the only country in the region never to have experienced a military coup.
However, tension is rising ahead of the election and one prominent politician has been charged with murder.
Mr N'Dour said of his candidacy: "It is a supreme patriotic duty.
"It's true, I haven't pursued higher educa- tion, but the presidency is a function and not a job. "I have proved my competence, commitment, rigour and efficiency time and time again. I have studied at the school of the world. Travel teaches as much as books," he added. Proposals made last June by Mr Wade to change the constitution sparked the most violent protests of his 11-year tenure.
Mr Wade had wanted to reduce the pro- portion of votes needed to win a presi- dential election, and so avoid a run-off - from more than 50% to 25%. He had also wanted to create an elected post of vice-president, which many sus- pected was meant for his son Karim. Many opposition activists claim Mr Wade's bid for a third term is unconstitu- tional.
He has been president since 2000 when he won elections, ending 40 years of rule by the Socialist Party.
Mr N'Dour has emerged as a prominent opposition figure in recent months. He has also long been involved in humanitarian causes, being a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef). Last year he also criticised African leaders over their response to the famine in Somalia. Mr N'Dour is renowned around the world for his fusion of traditional Senegalese music with salsa, jazz and hip-hop. His 1994 duet with Neneh Cherry, Seven Seconds, was a worldwide hit and won a Grammy nomination.
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