Skip to main content

2012: Africa's Election Trail. First Stop, Youssou Ndour

It's day three of the year 2012. Already! First off, I wish each and every one of you a great year ahead. May you have enough of everything you need to achieve your biggest dream and highest potential, and may you never want for the love, support, strength and confidence to get to where you want to be.

Second, Youssou Ndour - world renowned Senegalese musician - just announced his candidature for Senegal's presidential election on February 26, 2012! I'll admit, the first person I thought of when I read the news was Wyclef Jean who put in a similar bid for Haiti's presidential seat in 2010. But let's not dwell on that. It's a new year and if the recent past has been any indication, it's that anything is possible. Besides, unlike Jean who didn't even meet the constitutional requirement of having lived in the country for at least five years, Ndour has been very visible on the local scene - mainly through his music - and is also a UN goodwill ambassador.

What are the odds against Ndour? Well, for one thing, experience. While Ndour has already established somewhat of a legacy in promoting Senegalese music, he has very little - if any - experience in politics. Sure, he participated in some of last year's rallies against current President Abdoulaye Wade and tackles issues like corruption and elitism in his music, but when it comes down to facts, his lack of formal education and experience will be highly scrutinized. That aside, with numerous businesses and a strong stake in media - he owns a TV station and radio - the question of true 'democracy' where media independence is concerned might pop up. Think Berlusconi.

I browsed through some comments on Seneweb about Ndour's candidature, and if those are any indication, these are but some of the challenges that Youssou Ndour might have to face. One of those is getting the religious leaders - who hold a lot of clout in Senegalese society - on his side. That will be no easy feat as some of these Muslim leaders have criticized both Ndour and his music for being 'unIslamic'.  He will have to win the people over, show them that he is capable of succeeding in governance as he has been in music, and also, to build a strong, committed and competent team around him to achieve what he hopes to. Above all, he must not underestimate the enormity of his proposed charge, and should he win, must not turn out to be like ALL the other so-called African leaders we've had the misfortune of granting power.

What's going in his favor? Well, Abdoulaye Wade. After consistently failing to fulfill his promises since first being elected president in 2000, the majority of Senegalese are fed up. There are also fears that he might try to instate his son, Karim Wade (and current Minister of State for International Cooperation, Regional Development, Air Transport, and Infrastructure, AND Energy). Last year seemed to be the final straw when Wade attempted to change the constitution and extend his presidency. People - young, old, men, women, you name it - took to the streets and protested. All this came after equally passionate protests in March dubbed "Y'En A Marre" (We're fed up)  at the height of the food and economic crises and power cuts across the West African nation. Since then, a campaign called "Wade Degage!" (Wade, Get Out!) has been ongoing especially on social media networks pushing for the incumbent to step down.That aside, Senegal might be riding the remnants of the wave of change that swept the Arab world. If Youssou Ndour is able to play up the notion of "Power with the people", he could potentially draw the strong following he needs in order to win or at least put a considerable dent in Wade's image as "the only option".

Personally, I don't see why Ndour should not run. He's as legitimate a presidential candidate as any other Senegalese.Some might say he's even more 'legitimate' than say, Karim Wade who barely speaks the national language Wolof. Citizenship aside, I believe leaders are made, and each person deserves the chance to serve their nation as best as they can. If Mr. Ndour thinks he's up to the charge, give him a shot. What's there to lose? True, he might not have the experience, but with over ten years under his belt, Wade certainly doesn't seem to be making things any better, is he? Besides, as Youssou Ndour eloquently put it, "Presidency is a function, not a career." Many of our leaders have sought to make careers of the solemn charges granted them and look where we are now. I hope Ndour preps himself well and makes the necessary sacrifices, investments, and decisions to ensure that Senegal moves forward in prosperity. Best wishes to Youssou Ndour and to Senegal!

Same goes for all the African countries embarking on elections this year, including my dear country Ghana. Elections are a huge determinant of peace, and I pray that peace presides regardless of who wins what race. That said, and based on unfolding events in Senegal, I wonder if there could ever be an Africa Spring (after Arab Spring). Who knows?

Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3, Photo 4

Popular posts from this blog

The Untold Stories of Ghana's Kayayo (Market Girls)

Thought I was done blogging for the day -- until I came across this BBC photo feature on Ghana's market girls or "kayayo". When I was back in Ghana, I would occasionally go to the Madina market in Accra with my mum and I remember seeing them every time. I often wondered why they weren't in school, why they were doing what they do and why they didn't bargain how much money was paid them. My mum would lament about their situations and each time she patronized their service she would ask them how come they were doing what they did. Unlike my mum, most patrons of the Kayayo's services are not as considerate and don't think twice about having them carry things twice their weight! This is a very sensitive topic to me, because the way I see it, a twist of fate, and I could have been one. I've been meaning to blog on this issue, but somehow it escaped me. Not about to let that opportunity slip by again. Alors, voila.

Here's a youtube slideshow (by the sam…

Lifestylz GH Interview: Sangu Delle

As part of Lifestylz GH’s interview series, we bring you our premier interview with Sangu Delle.

Profile: Sangu Delle
Sangu Delle is a senior at Harvard University. He was born and raised in Ghana, and is the youngest of five children in a bi-religious family (his father is Catholic while his mum is Muslim). He attended Christ the King Catholic School (CTK) and went on to study at the Ghana International School (GIS) until his O-Levels when he transferred to the Peddie School (a college preparatory school in NJ) on scholarship. His areas of concentration in academics are Economics and African studies, with a particular focus on development.

AspirationsTo be involved in the development of Ghana and Africa at large in some capacity. In the past, he was more involved in non-profit and development work, but has increasingly become active in entrepreneurial and business ventures; a testament to his belief that there should be “less foundations and more entrepreneurs” in Africa. In his own wor…

The Letter Writing Project: Unplanned (Student AGAIN!)

Ciao people! I'm blogging all the way from Bologna, Italy! Beautiful city, interesting experiences so far. This blog was written a couple of days ago and didn't get posted because I got quite self-conscious about what it was about (definitely NOT my grandest moment). But after some thought I decided to post it. I feel it's important to acknowledge both struggles and triumphs, especially if growth is the bottom line objective, and particularly since life does throw us a curve ball from time to time. Alors...I'd say enjoy...but given the subject matter, maybe "I hope this speaks to you in some way" is more appropriate? Here goes..
-- Unplanned
"It isn't what you did in the past that will affect the present. It's what you do in the present that will redeem the past and thereby change the future." - Aleph (Paulo Coelho)
It’s been a week and a day since I arrived in Bologna land, which coincidentally, is the very reason why we have so many foods “Bo…