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Youssou N'Dour Cancels North American Tour

Youssou N'Dour, the acclaimed Senegalese singer and bandleader and UNICEF Ambassador, has announced the cancellation of his seven-week tour of North America, originally scheduled for March 26-May 15. The 38-city tour was to be the most extensive series of performances in North America in his career.

Youssou N'Dour says, "It is my strong conviction that the responsibility for disarming Iraq should rest with the United Nations. As a matter of conscience I question the United States government's apparent intention to commence war in Iraq. I believe that coming to America at this time would be perceived in many parts of the world -- rightly or wrongly -- as support for this policy, and that, as a consequence, it is inappropriate to perform in the US at this juncture."

"I understand that there are many in the US who do not support the idea of their government initiating war in Iraq at this time, and I offer my greatest respect to them. I also regret the difficulties this causes those who were to present my concerts in North America and those who were looking forward to seeing me and my band. This tour was over a year and a half in the planning and was the greatest commitment I had ever made to performing in the US."

"It is my fervent wish to return to the US in better times. But I find it impossible to imagine playing concerts in America when such grave issues are confronting all the peoples of the world."

Spin the Globe sez: I'm deeply disappointed about the cancellation not only because I won't get to see this marvelous performer, but because it reinforces to me how broadly "my" government has managed to alienate so much of the world in so little time. At first new immigration policies were keeping out musicians who had scheduled tours in the US. I've heard from many Canadian artists who are avoiding the US simply because it's so difficult and time-consuming to come here. Now artists are actively avoiding the US because of our government policies.

I can't help but be reminded of the days of aparthied, when international cultural and economic boycotts were the world's response to a minority government's attempts to hold onto power at the expense of the majority. I haven't heard of anything being organized yet, and given the US stranglehold on much of the world's economy and popular culture, I'm not sure what kind of impact such a campaign would really have. Also, when it comes down to it, it was the people of South Africa (and of the former Eastern Bloc) who rose up and made the needed changes in their governments. If Americans don't take some responsibility for their own government, we could become the most dangerous rogue nation in history, with an economic-political elite lashing out at our perceived enemies while alienating our historic friends.

Of course, many would say we're already there. If you already are questioning the US policies, keep it up! It may be time to revisit some of the revolutionary ideas this nation was founded upon. What could be more American than that?

When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1821

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