Senegal Loses A National Treasure – Doudou N’diaye Rose Joins The Elders

unnamedIt comes with deep sadness that the hands of another of Africa’s greatest treasurers are silenced. Senegal greatest drummer Doudou N’diaye Rose died at age 85. He was born in Dakar in 1930 and was named Mamadou of which the nickname is Doudou. In fact we had just celebrated his birth and were happy that he was still with us, only to be blindsided by his sudden death a couple of weeks later.

Doudou N’diaye Rose who was mesmerized by the sound and message of the drums would become master drummer of the Wolof tradition. In fact he was the most celebrated drummer throughout Africa and the world. Senegalese music became instantly popular after the National Ballet of Senegal made its premiere performance in October 1971 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. That night in October the world of African music and dance was changed forever. The National Dance Company of Senegal featured the dance SABAR that caused the audience to leap to its feet. Never had we seen such a display of movement and music. Sabar is a music/dance form of fourteen different components. The audience at this time did not know the name Doudou N’diaye Rose, but they related to the rendition of Sabar music/dance like biscuits and gravy.

In September 1971 I had just returned from Senegal, which was the last stop of a trans -continental research trip of music and dance. While in Senegal, I met with my cultural informant Maurice Sonar Senghor who was director of Theatre National, Daniel Sorano, as well as director of The National Dance Company of Senegal. He announced to me that the Company was coming to New York shortly. They came and the dance world was changed forever.

*Doris Green attended Brooklyn College, New York University and the University of Nairobi, Kenya. She is an ethnomusicologist, a Fulbright scholar and the creator of Greenotation, a system for writing music for percussion instruments of Africa. “Percussion Notation,” has been hailed as an outstanding achievement by the OAU (Organization for African Unity), and recommended for use in all schools and universities in Africa.

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