Hadj is an extraordinary musician (composer, vocalist and guitarist)
from Senegal. His mother is from the north, near Mauriatania
and his father from Cassamance in the south. It is significant
that his parents come from these regions in the extremities
of Senegal because this has given him a balanced understanding
of his country.
used to sell cola nuts in a Dakar market and went on to study
economics at Cheikh Anta Diop university. However it became
clear that his true vocation was to music and the arts where
he has made an indelible mark. He has acted in two of Senegalese
film-maker Ousmane Sembène's films: 'Camp de Thiarye'
and 'Guelar'. Later he also appeared in Joseph Gaye Ramaka's
film 'Karmen Gei',which is a version of Bizet's 'Carmen'.
N'Diaye has had three albums released internationally. The first
bears the name of his local neighbourhood, Thiaroye,
and won the Choc du Monde de la Musique award in France. Secondly
Xel (2001) won an 'Academie Charles-Cros' award. The third
is Géej - meaning 'The Sea' (2007) and it includes
a track about the Jolaa ferry disaster. Always ready to try
something new, one of the tracks on Géej, 'Tokoroni',
is in Japanese. Each album has accompanying printed notes with
most of the lyrics translated in Wolof, French and /or English.
The very sound of the lyrics strikes chords deep
in the heart of the listener. Reading the translations then
confirms that these are songs of deep feeling about struggles
Known as 'the people's poet', El Hadj has deep insight to the
plight of troubled people in his country and all
Africa. He is an activist who bravely composes songs on topics
such as immigration, corruption, displacement and oppression,
for which he has been censored. He is involved in an organisation
called Environment, Development and Action (enda) and he has
named his division 'Siggi enda' (in Wolof, siggi means 'lift
up your head').
His song 'Boor-yi' is included in the compilation Drop the
Debt - an end to debt an end to poverty (2002). On
his album Judu Bek, Wasis Diop
adapted one of one of El Hadj N'Diaye's songs, 'Jiné
Ji'. Cities in which El Hadj has performed include Paris, Berlin
The instrumentation of the guitars and kora shines through,
adding to the intensity and beauty of N'Diaye's songs.
He declares that singers should
be the voice of the people so as to highlight their day to day
problems and social issues.