Numerous little arms reach out for a tall smiling man in a school yard in Dakar, Senegal. Singer and songwriter Ismael Lo has come to visit the school he founded in 2000. Now, Ta Ta Fa, a private pre- and elementary school, has 600 children from all social classes. The cosy and colourful school in three floors is located in a quiet suburb some 20 minutes drive from the city centre.
Here, Ismael Lo discusses why he he has joined other celebrities in supporting the Red Cross Red Crescent “Our world. Your move.” campaign.
“It’s not our world, my move, it’s our move.” Lo said. “We have to help others but so they become autonomous. So that they don’t come back asking assistance again.”
“We should stop reaching out for help elsewhere”
Ismael Lo’s greatest concern is schooling. “The biggest humanitarian challenge in Africa is education. Everyone should have access to good education.”
Another love for Ismael Lo, “Africa’s Bob Dylan” by nickname, is agriculture. He would like more of his fellow citizens to take their time to cultivate, since the land and the work force are there. Ismael Lo experiences himself the joy of growing tomatos, salad and fruit on his farm outside Dakar.
“It’s no use getting millions from outside if one doesn’t make use of the land one has. What are you going to buy if no one cultivates? Stones? You can’t eat them. We should stop reaching out for help elsewhere.”
The artist feels lucky he has the possibility to share some of the means he has obtained in the course of his long career. This is something he has learned ever since he was a child. Like many Africans.
“We Senegalese like to give, like to share and like to contribute. Even if we were a rich country, we wouldn’t have to be taught to share.”
“I believe in Africa. We might not have a lot of wealth but we have values. When I leave Africa even for a day, I become anxious and depressed. Here, there is social well-being.”