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City Of rhythm

Welcome to diverse Dakar, capital of Senegal, where reggae resounds around former slave quarters, downtown nightclubs throb with world beats and homegrown pop, and the sounds of the djembe drum and kora are as vital as ever

iN A DINGY UNDERGROUND corridor, within the fortiications of the old slave-trading port of Gorée Island, the only sound is a rusty chain rattling against a steel door. In the dim light, Fallou Kandji works a key into a heavy padlock and struggles with it until he hears the dull click. Then the young man, his short dreads hidden beneath a red wool beret, lashes a magician’s smile before unlooping the chain and pushing the creaking door ajar. Heat rushes out as though he has opened an oven. Yellow paint lakes off the walls in the small, low-ceilinged room. Arranged around it are a full drumkit, keyboard, stacks of speakers and a pair of kora, the West African string instruments that paved the way for acoustic guitars. One wall is plastered with old gig posters, peeling in the sticky damp. This secret subterranean hideaway is the studio and rehearsal space of reggae band Civil Society, who have brought music to a place that once reverberated only with echoes of its horriic past.

A wall in Civil Society's rehearsal space, replete with old gig posters, on Gorée Island
Photographs EMMANUELLE ANDRIANJAFY @emmanuelle.andrianjafy
Musician and artist Fallou Kandji, who plays guitar with Civil Society. Below right: A statue depicting slaves, symbolically freed and standing on a djembe drum, at the House of Slaves on Gorée Island
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About Lonely Planet Traveller (UK)

March 2019In the March issue… discover Hawaii in the language of the islands; pick and mix the best of Malta's capital; find 12 more wonderfully different island escapes; follow a classic car rally in Italy; move to West African rhythms in Dakar; explore the music cultures of Havana, Vienna and Seville; and much more