Youssou N’Dour ditches music for politics

Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour has announced he will quit music to become a full-time politician in Senegal. Here he performs on February 28, 2010 during the 4th Dakhla Festival in the Western Saharan city of Dakhla in Morocco.

NAIROBI, Kenya — If you don’t know Youssou N’Dour’s music then you’re missing out horribly. It’s a mixed bag but at its best it is quite startlingly good and even at its electro-pop worst his voice remains one of the world’s most powerful and recognizable.

N’Dour’s most famous track is "7 Seconds," his 1994 collaboration with Neneh Cherry

And here’s a bit more about him in an interview in The Guardian a few years back.

N’Dour, 52, has always dabbled in the politics of his country, Senegal, in the sense that he’s spoken out against inequality, corruption and poverty but, until now, he has been more commentator and advocate than active participant.

But this weekend N’Dour announced that as of January 2012 he will be abandoning all his tour dates and performing commitments to enter politics a month ahead of scheduled presidential elections.

The animosity between N’Dour (who has become something of a media mogul as at home) and President Abdoulaye Wade, 85, is well-known. Wade blocked N’Dour’s television station TFM from getting a license for two-years and, once it was granted, banned his station from broadcasting anything but cultural shows.

Exactly what form N’Dour’s political involvement will take is unclear, so far, although there is widespread speculation that he may present himself as a presidential candidate.

“I will free myself of all artistic commitments from 2 January next year to enter the political arena. For me, there are two Senegals. The Senegal of the have-nots and Senegal of the haves. My concern is the Senegal of the have-nots,” said N’Dour in a live broadcast on TFM at the weekend.