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News |  21 Aug 2015 18:59 |  By RnMTeam

'Human Treasure' Senegalese drummer Doudou N'diaye Rose dies in Dakar

Photo courtesy: dakaractu.com

NEW DELHI: Senegalese drummer and band leader Doudou N’diaye Rose, who was named a ‘living human treasure’ by UNESCO, died at the age of 85.

The musician, whose real name was Mamadou N’diaye, died in a Dakar hospital after being taken ill on 19 August morning.

UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova said, “The death of Doudou Ndiaye is a great loss to music lovers, lovers of culture and of Africa everywhere,” said the Director-General. “Doudou Ndiaye was an exceptional master of the musical tradition he inherited. With his creative genius he kept that tradition alive, made it known and transmitted it to future generation. The legacy he shared and augmented will live on and we will always remember his name with joy and gratitude.”

The so-called ‘mathematician of rhythm’ was a master of the sabar drum and led the Drummers of West Africa orchestra, made up of his children and grandchildren, in mind-bogglingly complex beat medleys. He also conducted his daughters and granddaughters in the all-female group, Les Rosettes.

Born in 1930 into Senegal’s griot caste of musicians and storytellers, N’diaye revealed in a 2010 interview that his accountant father did not want his son to be a musician and that they went for seven years without shaking hands when he defied him.

Growing up among the beats of downtown Dakar pushed N’diaye towards his life as a percussionist, but not before he worked as a plumber.

He was mentored by Senegal’s then drum-major Mada Seck, who “knew all the secrets of percussion” and eventually passed on his instruments to N’diaye, who travelled deep into the West African countryside to develop his talent. Once N’diaye learned ‘more than 100 different rhythms’ which is why the elders named him the new chief drum-major.

He first caught the wider world’s attention when, in 1959, US singer and dancer Josephine Baker invited N’diaye to perform with her shortly before Senegalese independence. He has since collaborated with musicians including Miles Davis, the Rolling Stones and Peter Gabriel, and toured Africa, Japan, France and the US.

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