youssou

Youssou N'Dour at BAM

Over the weekend I saw Youssou N’Dour perform in Brooklyn. I don’t say this lightly: it was transportive. The music is so overwhelmingly life-affirming, and I’m chomping at the bit to go to Senegal. So I spent the entire show alternately blissing out in the moment and imagining myself living in Dakar in the near future, making a weekend routine of going out to dance to West African music.

The band kept announcing him as the “minister of the people” but I would more aptly call N’Dour the minister of tourism because within minutes of his arrival onstage I was ready to pack up and go.* Lo and behold, I just looked up his discography and he is indeed Senegal’s minister of tourism and culture as of 2012! That is both hilarious and entirely appropriate.

Sometimes I think I’m going to wimp out on my language sabbatical but then a night like Saturday’s reminds me of how much fun I will have and eradicates the fear. In fact, I spent a good part of the show wallowing in fantasy-land “logistics” planning: I’d move to Senegal next November and spend the winter months learning French eight hours a day, then visit every country in West Africa after becoming proficient, next head south to Zimbabwe and South Africa just because, then cut back up to Rwanda, then turn east into Tanzania and Kenya, and finally somehow end up in the south of France in time for summer. Oh, and there’d also magically be time and money for Mozambique and Madagascar. And then I’d move to South America for Spanish immersion.

It’s good to dream… And eventually, when the time is ripe, I will become a bit more realistic about my dreams and turn them into reality. (With God as my witness.)

* pending Ebola neutralization

I leave you with a clip from the show, taken by someone with a much better seat than mine!

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