It is a huge loss for Senegalese culture as well as for the Senegalese people. Musician artist, Thione Seck, father of Waly Seck, has died at Fann Hospital in Dakar, in the night of Saturday to Sunday, after an illness. Thione was 66 when he died.
The Senegalese journalist Fadel Lo, author of the book “Words of Thione Ballago Seck, an inspired and prolific poet” writes that Thione Seck came from a family of griots, started music with great Senegalese bands of the time, in particular the Star band Dakar, then the Baobab Orchestra, before Thione created his group the Raam Daan de Dakar.
Resilience to build an early successful musical career
Born in 1955 in Dakar, Thione experienced success at a very young age. The kid from La Gueule Tapée, who “always knew” he wanted to be a musician, dropped out of school before grade sixth. A choice that his father, a policeman in Dakar, considered to have compromised his future. But Thione Seck sailed through thick and thin to prove his father wrong.
At 17, he was introduced to the legendary Orchestra Baobab by Abdoulaye Mboup, one of the founding fathers of Senegalese traditional-modern music. There Thione Seck met a musician, Mountaga Kouyate, who grew up like him in the Dakar district of Gueule typée.
This is where the “youngest of the Baobab band” became friends. They shared everything from “toothpaste” to their crushed egos at seeing more experienced musicians taking centre stage. With Orchestra Baobab, the drummer and singer experience the hot nights of the Senegalese capital and taste success. They took part in the great balls of the Colobane gendarmerie, often chaired by the then head of state, Léopold Sédar Senghor.
Still very young, inexperienced and poorly paid (6,000 CFA francs per week, he remembers), Thione Seck took his troubles with patience. “I knew it was just a stepping stone for me,” Thione Seck once told me. “He already had a lot of ambition,” Mountaga Kouyaté also confirmed to me.
And just a few years, after joining Orchestra Baobab, Thione Seck created the “Ram Daan“, his own traditional music group, with members of his family.
The band gained notoriety and the singer’s financial situation improved. Finally, the then young man was “no longer accountable to anyone” and could manage his career as he sees fit.
“Thanks to my kit, I was able to buy myself a piece of land, whereas in the Baobab days I didn’t even have enough to buy a bicycle,” he once joked to me.
The daring singer left the band and went to try his luck in France. The harshness of the European winter and the success that was slow to come quickly cooled his ambitions.
Six months later, Thione Seck returned to Senegal to make his dream come true. The grim reaper put an end to this rich career of the artist this Sunday, March 14, 2021.
May Thione rest in Peace. The Chronicle extends its condolences to the family of the late Thione Seck and to his son Waly.