Like so many Senegalese youth before him, Ibrahim has followed a road well-travelled in search of a better life. At 12 years old he ventured off from Dakar, made his way on foot along the north western coast through Mauritania, travelled on a cargo ship as a deck hand to Morocco, and then hopped on a raft by night the short but risky ride to Gibraltar, Spain.
After several years working in Spain on farms and as a self-taught musician, he decided to migrate to Portugal where he heard that residency requirements are less stringent than in Spain. He now calls himself a musician and sells trinkets to tourists in Lisbon along the narrow cobblestone roads surrounding Castelo de S. Jorge.
His tall stature and beautiful smile serves him well in attracting tourists to his wares. While I did not hear his music, I suspect that similar to other Senegalese artists he could enchant you with the sweet rhythms of the kora, a harp made from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin.
Ibrahim’s travels allow him to support his mother who is still in Senegal. Monthly Western Union transfers are her life line. Ibrahim said that “she is my greatest supporter and in return I represent her hope for the future.”
He dreams of moving to London or France once he becomes a Portuguese resident.