After being disqualified from running for the Senegalese presidency itself, world music icon Youssou N'Dour backed winning candidate Macky Sall. And the move evidently paid off. Last week Youssou N'Dour was appointed to Senegal's cabinet as Minister for Culture and Tourism.
Macky Sall, 50, was sworn into office last Monday after he defeated the incumbent Abdoulaye Wade in a run-off vote last month. Wade, 85, was criticised for competing for a third term in power, but was then credited after the poll for peacefully accepting defeat. The Grammy-award winning N'Dour is one of 25 new appointees to the cabinet headed by Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye, who has reduced the cabinet size from 40 to 25 members.
It is intriguing to see N'Dour take the same career path as other musicians-turned-politicians. For instance, in Lousiana, country and gospel singer Jimmie David was Governor for two terms and we saw Gilberto Gil appointed minister of culture in Brazil in 2005. The move from music to politics is evidently popular. To become a respected musician you have to win the public favour - so why not try your hand at a government position? Nevertheless, it is important to point out that a musician's role in society highly differs to that of a government official. Musicians, often regarded as deviant in nature, have to transform into the suited well-to-do individual. The ultimate gamble is that this transition may affect their musical identity. Of course, this remains to be seen.