Getting to see the world’s most famous Senegalese citizen

He has the fastest selling newspaper in Senegal – it says circulation 85,000 which is massive considering that it’s in French and not everyone can afford a newspaper every day.

He also has the biggest tv station in the country, in a well-designed building in Almadies, not a part of Dakar that I normally care about. But hey – if you want to interview Youssou N’Dour you go the extra mile.

TFM it’s called. Smooth media operation in a cool building. You wait a little in an actual waiting room, while a torrent of people walk in and out and through. You may have luck today but then again you may not. Time once put him on the list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

And this is home. So – Youssou N’Dour is busy. Very busy. Even more so when you take your family obligations seriously, as well you should.

And now he is going into politics. Which is why I want to see him.

On my third trek to the TFM building I have a polite conversation with the secretary who tells me that, er, he’s not there at the appointed hour. So, back to the waiting room. But then, a quick phone call and a mad rush to a large house nearby. Pfff. Thank the stars that it isn’t hot.

Lovely garden and he casually strolls in.

‘Salaam aleikoum.’

‘Maleikoum salaam.’

Follows almost fifteen minutes of recorded conversation with the world’s most famous Senegalese citizen.

And even this congenitally sceptical journalist cannot help but be impressed by someone who has to cram a 48 hour program into a 24 hour day and has the capacity to sit on a bench, in a tracksuit, and explain his presidential ambitions to you without ever giving even the slightest hint that he really surely definitely must dash off to appointment number XYZ today.

That, in my book, is class. I am not sure if he’ll make and I can’t even make up my mind about whether he should be doing this. But I wish him good luck. Oh and thanks for the interview…

Which you can read very shortly on http://www.rnw.nl/africa

 

(book reviews will resume shortly)

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