Youssou N'Dour has been named by Time, the American news magazine, as one of 100 men and women whose talent is transforming the world. As the Senegalese superstar's fame and influence reaches new heights, he is also articulating for the first time a Panafrican political leadership ambition.
Last week he was reported as announcing his availability as a candidate to become the first prime minister of a United States of Africa. In this exclusive interview with allAfrica.com, N'Dour paints his vision of a unified and industrious Africa, an issue currently the subject of debate at the African Union Summit in Accra.
Youssou, you have been in the public eye a lot lately, why is that?
I believe it is because I have been actively involved in many spheres of public life... I have just released a new album which is receiving a great response from people and with that comes promotional work which results in interaction with the media. Recently, singer Bono and I attended the G8 Summit to exert pressure on decision-makers in regard to aid and assistance to Africa. I also have a concert tour for Alsaama Day (the title of his latest album). I am also someone who is very interested in Africa and the United States of Africa so on the eve of the African Union Summit, I put in my two cents worth.
Are you going to attend the summit?
No, I will not attend, I was not invited. But the summit is there for us, the people of Africa..
And you have affirmed that you aspire to rule the future government of the United States of Africa being debated at the summit?
I hope so. I believe I made my ambitions clear... I believe in my capabilities and I have a vision for Africa. I also believe that Africa needs those of its children with vision and some experience to become involved in the drive to create African unity. The (African) Union was created by our heads of state and now unity is the people's duty. I believe that around me, along with other young Africans... with the same ambitions and in different realms, we can create an important foundation that is removed from the politics of bureaucracy and achieve our dream.
As of now, what is your plan of action?
I am not actually talking about a plan of action. I understand that certain things must be harmonized, the same as with music. First, you compose the song. Today in Accra, what is going to happen is that heads of states will, I hope, 'compose' the United States of Africa and at that time, (they) will create the blueprints that will delineate the mechanisms necessary for its functioning. It is then that a plan of action can be carried out.
Everyone knows that Africa's biggest problems are health and education... Our agenda will be fashioned according to this fact. For the moment, I will speak out on my candidacy and the benefit that I could bring to the United States of Africa and its people.