Last weekend was one of the most interesting and fun weekends in The Gambia. It was the Easter weekend and the members of the Christian community started by going to church, visiting with family and friends and sharing a whole lot of “drinking bread” commonly known as “Nan Mburu” Some of the Masquerade societies have their get togethers “Egereh” and daytime hunting parades. Others celebrated it with all kinds of parties around the country.
This year’s Easter is one with a difference as the king of Mbalax Sir Youssou Majigen Ndour was in The Gambia over the weekend staging a 3 day concert at the independence stadium in Bakau (Courtesy of the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation Staff Association (SSHFC).
It has been several years since Youssou last performed in The Gambia and the Grammy Award winner was dearly missed by Gambians. There were high expectations amongst his fans and Youssou as usual did not disappoint them. He gave them their money’s worth on every single day storming the independence stadium with songs that got everyone moving throughout.
Friday night April 18th was the Banquet Gala Dinner held at the Independence Stadium in Bakau. Tables were available and individual tickets were sold for D2000. This event was attended by the Gambia’s cooperate community and individuals that are well of. Saturday April 19th was the Grand dance still held at the Independence stadium and was attended by the cooperate world and some middle class individuals who could afford it. Individual tickets were D800 and the VIPs were D1200. Sunday April 20th was the show. Individual tickets were sold for D300 and VIP was D800. Regardless of the economic situation, fans of the king of Mbalax have done everything possible to attend at least one of his concerts. There were high speculations and controversies amongst Gambians in the diaspora who opined that Youssou Ndour should not come to The Gambia even though he was missed by his fans. The influential musician, who runs several media outlets in Senegal and provides the most employment besides the government has showed his fans in The Gambia that he really cares about them.
It could be recalled that Youssou has stopped playing music for a couple of years in pursued of a political career. He took the world by surprise when him and his Super Etoile Band made a music comeback October 12th 2013 at a grand concerts held at the Palais Omnisports De Paris, Bercy, France where dozens of thousands from the four corners of the world attended. Some concerns were raised by some Gambians that Youssou did not invite any Gambian artists or even mention the Gambia’s name at the said event which was attended by a large number of Gambians around the world. One of the Gaambian musicians based in Switzaland Jilani Vibes, spearheaded that champagne and wrote an open letter to youssou Ndour which was published on a lot of online newspapers and local media houses in the Gambia and Senegal.. Even though Youssou has not responded directly to Jilani’s letter, he has been consistently involving Gambia in his projects.
Saturday (January 4th 2014), he did a crazy performance at the "Dakar ne Dort pas" du Samedi 04 Janvier 2014 avec Youssou Ndour et le Super Etoile au Grand Théatre - TFM.
Watch 17 minutes 20 seconds into the video at the following link and see how Youssou Ndour and Mbaye Gueye Faye both did a special few seconds’ presentation about Gambians. They mentioned a few places that this show reminded them of including Gambia. Hear Mbaye Gueye Faye talking to Gambians in English and I quote
" GAMBIAN PEOPLE, IF YOU WATCH YOUR TV, WE SAY, I LOVE YOU, WE LOVE YOU AND WE KNOW YOU KNOW YOUSSOU AND YOUSSOU KNOW YOU AND WE KNOW YOU GAMBIAN PEOPLE."
In my view, this was so mechanical that I believe it was a reaction to our concerns. They must have planned it as a reaction to our concern but will not come out directly to say so. Therefore, I must commend Jilani Vibez for taking the initiative. Yes! The debate was very heated and interesting. A lot of people have different thoughts calling each other all kinds of names. Some people blamed all the different sectors who have a hand in Gambian music such as the producers, the promoters, the government, the media, the fans and the musicians themselves. Some blamed outside forces especially the Senegalese.
Shortly after, Mbaye Gueye Faye did a song with Gambia’s rising mbalax stars Abou and Fafa.
In early January 2014, Youssou signed a deal with Gambia’s movie producer, actor and director Momodou Lamin Touray a.k.a D.J Lil Sisqo to produce the “NAKALA” TV Series on his widely watched TV Station TFM in Dakar. Production for this series has already begun according to D J lil Sisqo.
Most recently, on April 4th 2014, the king of mbalax was on his TV Station TFM promoting the new CD he was about to release on Senegal’s Independence day. He talked at length about the album and the different songs in it. He reproduced the music of great Senegambian legends and included the music of the Legendary Gambian musician Lalo Kebba Drammeh and this is appreciated by a lot of Gambians.
Amidst a lot of controversies about Youssou coming to the Gambia, he made a bold decision to come and perform for his fans who have been looking forward to an opportunity to see him again for a live concert in the country.
Also featured during Youssou’s concerts were our own Gambian musicians such as the most celebrated Afro Manding singer and kora maestro Jaliba Kuyateh, Slam gi, Singateh a.k.a Freaky Joe, MLK and Samba Bah. Everyone who attended the event seemed to be very happy as can be seen on their post on social media especially facebook. Enjoy these photos of Sir Youssou Ndour’s first trip to The Gambia after his comeback.