Five places to visit in Dakar, Senegal, with singer Baaba Maal | ET REALITY


Had everything gone according to plan, singer-songwriter Baaba Maal’s move to Senegal’s capital from the northern hinterland would have ended differently: specifically, with a law degree. “When I first arrived in Dakar, I was supposed to study at university because that was my parents’ wish,” he said, as a pair of sculptures, as if on cue, stared at him sternly.

I met Mr. Maal, the “voice of Wakanda” to fans who know him from the “Black Panther” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” soundtracks, at the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar. As we toured the galleries, he explained that he loved this place because of its efforts to repatriate looted African treasures and its power “to get young people interested in the arts.” He is now 70 years old and remembers being an artistic young man. “What was really strong inside me, which is to be a singer, to be a performer, came to light when I arrived in Dakar,” he said. “If I wanted to be an artist, I said, ‘This is where I’m going to start a career.’”

So there was his parents’ plan, but his has worked very well. Just this year she released her fourteenth studio album, “Be”, to critical acclaim, became a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, a continuation of the work of his non-profit organization. Nann-K – and began preparations for its arts and culture. Fleuve Blues festival at the beginning of December. While he still travels frequently, he said, “I always wanted Dakar to be the place where I start my work, prepare for my tours and come back.”

The call was clear. Since she moved to Dakar, the city had instituted renowned biennials and fashion weeks. And just on the small stretch of street where we were standing was not only the museum, but also the Grand Théâtre National and the restored Art Nouveau commuter train station. “This is a new dynamic,” she said, pointing to a place where hip-hop artists now draw thousands of young people to outdoor shows. Reveling in the energy, he added: “I often pass by here, open the carriage window, look at the people getting off the train and say to myself: ‘Yes, this is the kind of Senegal I want to see.’”

Here are five of his favorite places in and around Dakar.

“I love seeing the tradition alive,” said Mr. Maal of theaterinaugurated in 1965 by the first president of Senegal, the poet-philosopher Leopoldo Sédar Senghor. “And the tradition is still there: the national ballet, the lyrical ensemble, a lot of traditional African music.” He also loves the soul of the theater: “You can see the portraits of all the artists who died a long time ago and who represent a lot to the Senegalese people.”

Sports fan or not, any music lover will enjoy a game at this football and wrestling stadium, where singing and drums accompany the action. Mr. Maal has a particular fondness for wrestling, the national sport. “It’s not just about the sport itself; “It’s the dramas, the singers, the costumes, the whole culture around wrestling,” he said. Amadou Barry is also a music venue, where Mr. Maal is a beloved veteran performer. To visit this suburban stadium, you may want to A guide.

“When friends come over, it’s their favorite place to stay,” said Mr. Maal of this dream hotel – all thatched domes, mosaic arches and bougainvillea flowers – in the suburb of Toubab Dialaw, about an hour from Dakar, where the calming views of the ocean and city lights inspired their iconic song “Dakar Moon.” He also recommends the nearby African dance institute. Saber Schoolwhere anyone can attend performances at the end of each multi-week session.

Although Maal is an artist by birthright, he said, “I’m a fisherman.” And his favorite local connection to those roots is Soumbedioune, where the beach and market are “full of life, noise and energy, with all the boats setting sail early in the morning, young people pulling them out of the ocean and women waiting to sell the fish.” in the markets”.

“It’s beautiful and it’s owned by a friend who loves to feed people,” Maal said of this restaurant that is part of a colonial estate converted into a hotel on the island of Gorée, 25 minutes from the coast. Your song “Fatmata” It is dedicated to the owner, whose cuisine thieboudienne (fish, tomato sauce with herbs and rice), kaldou (garlic fish and rice) and c’est bon (grilled fish and seafood with onion sauce) are his favorites. AND UNESCO Listed The island of Gorée, surrounded by aquamarine waters, is considered a must-see for any visitor, as is its Maison des Esclaves, a testament to the horrors of slavery. While the beauty and brutality of the island are decidedly at odds, in Mr. Maal’s opinion, you can “move on from very hard and very sad experiences to see that, after all, there is hope, there is light and we can build something.” from that.” .”

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