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Singer Youssou N'Dour to run for president of Senegal

January 4, 2012 |  4:30 pm

Yousso N'dour
Grammy winner Youssou N'Dour, whose soaring voice and pointed lyrics have attacked power structures and injustice for more than three decades, has declared his candidacy for president of Senegal, the singer announced Monday. Perhaps best known in America for his work with Peter Gabriel (most notably as a collaborator on Gabriel's "Shaking the Tree"), the singer with a floating, wondrous tenor is one of the most popular in Africa, and recently announced he would retire from touring.

“For years the people have asked me [to run], for years they have searched... for a new model of government," N'Dour said in a statement. "I have proven myself in the private sector. I have proven myself in 30 years of working with the people.”

N'Dour, who grew up amid the thriving Senegalese music scene coming out of Dakar in the 1970s, will be challenging the 11-year rule of President Abdoulaye Wade, whose government N'Dour has long criticized. The current president is vying for a third term despite constitutional rules against such a run. The singer made the announcement on his own Senegalese television and radio station, Tele Futur Media.

"For a long time, men and women have demonstrated their optimism, dreaming of a new Senegal," he said. "They have, in various ways, called for my candidacy in the February presidential race. I listened. I heard.

"It is true that I do not have a university education," he added, "but the presidency is not something you go to school for."

The election will take place Feb. 26.


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-- Randall Roberts

Photo: Youssou N'Dour. Credit: Rebecca Blackwell / Associated Press