Music and Performing Arts

Islam and popular music in Senegal: the emergence of a 'new tradition'

The city of Dakar is a visual and verbal testament to the pervasive influence of Islam on Senegalese popular culture: ubiquitous fleets of yellow and blue cars rapides, the city's main transport system, display across their hoods the word alhamdulillahi(1) (Praise be to God); streets are named after important local Muslim figures: Allees Thierno Seydou Nourou Tall, Autoroute Seydina Limamou Laye; businesses such as Clef Minute de l'Islam (Islam Instant Key) on Avenue Blaise Diagne incorporate religion into their name: images of the mosque of Touba, the holy city of the Mouride Sufi order, grace the facades of small restaurants and bread kiosks; and in a local nightclub, well dressed Dakarois dance to popular singer Youssou Ndour's hit song about the founder of the Mouride order, Cheikh Amadou Barnba. In this article I explore the influence of Islam on a single aspect of Senegalese popular culture, but one which more than any other has transcended international boundaries, namely popular music.

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