Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Like Moosic

I don’t know what you’re talking about Miss, but let me assure you of this, I like moosic, do ya like moosic?” Moosic is wonderfully unavoidable in Senegal. Throughout the cities of Saint Louis and Dakar, the neighbourhoods are tripping themselves up with musical festivals of all types of African music. The Senegalese have music and dancing in their DNA and part of the fun attending various concerts to date has been watching the audience reaction, incapable as they of suppressing the urge to dance, arms aloft, to what they’re hearing. I wouldn't know a kora from a kosika but I do know when something sounds wonderful and there have been many thrilling musical events - some impromptu and some not - in the first week of my time here.
Senegal's capital, Dakar, is almost the polar opposite of Saint Louis, totally lacking its charm and timeworn beauty. Home to 2.5 million Dakarians its streets are filled with hustlers pushing belts, t-shirts, bracelets and all sorts of cheap Afro-trash that no-one wants but someone has to sell. I get here just as they’re preparing for Independence Day and so the streets and buildings are being given a cosmetic touch up. There really isn’t all that much to see in Dakar - you can stroll up to Place D’Indépendance and look at the Gouvernance and the Chambre de Commerce but as a whole it’s entirely devoid of the spunk and character of Saint Louis.
There is though the saving grace of the traditional wrestling which takes place at the city stadium on the night I arrive here. There’s one large stand packed to the rafters looking down on the wrestlers ing themselves in the arena below. There’s a large square area marked out by sand bags where the bouts take place, three and four at a time. The idea is that the first man down is the vanquished and there are jubilant roars of approval when a particular manoeuvre is successfully completed. Those not wrestling - and there are many participants - plod menacingly beside the arena keeping themselves warm, clad in nothing more than a thong. The whole thing is utterly primal. As with attending a concert, there’s more entertainment watching the stands and the interaction amongst people. At one stage everyone stands as a man from a microphone works himself to oral orgasm, there’s a perceptible buzz inside the stadium as an overweight man in zebra-striped khakis shuffles around the racetrack surrounded by a posse of photographers, wrestlers and some beefed up security men - the man beside me tells me that this is 'The King' (clearly a retired wrestling superstar as Senegal, last time I checked, wasn't a monarchy) and his every wave is greeted with euphoria.

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