Grant’s series “Into Dakar” brought back memories of my own travels there. For another intimate look into life in Dakar, check out, “The Songs of Senegal” a recent article in the New York Times. For me, reading the article was a trip back to an evening I spent in Farafenni, The Gambia, dancing to a live performance of Youssou N’Dour.
If you travel to The Gambia or Senegal without taking in the music scene, you’ll miss a vital part of each country’s vibrancy.
As Seth Sherwood, the article’s writer, points out, Dakar is one of the least touristed music centers in the world, but one of the most vibrant. This means for anyone traveling there, you can easily become immersed in a scene that is not meant for you.
Each year, the annual Africa Fête, a week long music festival that began on December 12 and ends on 19th, brings top notch groups together for a varied trip into Senegalese music landscape. The scenery is diverse. From folk style to pop to reggae, each music venue offers a unique flavor. If you have designs on a visit to Senegal, December is a terrific month to aim for. The rainy season is long gone, and the temperatures have yet to heat up to sweltering.
Sherwood’s article is an excellent place to begin a musical journey into Dakar even if your journey is not going to bring you much further than the music store closest to you. While you browse the West African music selection, imagine the images Sherwood’s words evoke.
For a taste of Dakar’s music scene, here’s a video of Youssou N’dour in concert. N’dour, however, could be heading your way. If you ever have a chance to see him and his musicians live, go.