Sunday, February 5

Souleymane Faye - 12 September 2014, Night Show

"Senegal." Starts at 33:21 minute mark on the YouTube video. I am pretty sure he composed the song, one of many he's written. Sung in the Wolof language. Souleymane is also the first to have sung Senegal's national anthem in Wolof instead of the official language of French. 

Last year I saw a strange Souleymane performance, posted somewhere on YouTube. He was singing at a nightclub, probably in Dakar, Senegal's capital. I don't think many of the young Senegalese in the audience knew they were listening to a national treasure. 

What was strange was his costume. He was wearing a loincloth, his chest was bare, and he had bead-like necklaces strung around his neck.

The getup angered a Muslim viewer at YouTube; he wrote that Souleymane shouldn't disrespect Islam by dressing that way.

A chill went up my spine. Just hours earlier I'd been reading a Wikipedia article about Senegalese history; it might have been about Islam and Senegal. The article featured an old painting of a Senegalese dressed in the same way as Souleymane. It was how the men dressed before the French moved in. 

Many Senegalese converted to Islam as a way to resist the French colonization of their land. I think this strategy born of desperation turned into a bargain with the devil when the Saudis began systematically replacing local versions of Islam in Senegal with Wahhabism, as they've done in many parts of Africa.
Anyhow, Senegal is just so darn pretty. As the Night Show host says simply, magnifique.             


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