Senegal's capital was unusually subdued for a Saturday night in late February. In Dakar's popular Sicap Baobab district, the normally packed Toucan restaurant was empty and quiet, save for the voice of local pop star Cheikh Lô coming from speakers above the bar. In 1996 Lô hit international fame with Né La Thiass (Gone in a Flash), which warned about sudden changes of destiny. With Senegal emerging from a tumultuous election, the most keenly contested in its history, that lyric is timely again, echoing sentiment about the country's tippy democratic traditions and life under newly re-elected 80-year-old President Abdoulaye...

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