Laye Ananas come from a griot family in Dakar. The griots is a tribe spread all over Africa that preserve the culture of the people – like storytelling, music, dance, acrobats, singing etc and they are the once called to the homes when a baby is born, when someone gets married, funerals, special occasions and so on. The artistry is inherent from parents to their children and often one griot family has a particular artistry they preserve, like singing, drumming, cora playing, ballafon
playing. He came from a poor family with 7 children that hardly had anything, and started to work early. His parents did not see a future as an artist for him though they had a large family of famous artist. But he and his younger brother both started a career in music, and Laye Ananas started to dance professionally when he was 16 years old. He started touring as one of Youssef N’Dour lead
dancers when he was 19 and they travelled all over Europe and West-Africa whit his show for three years. After this he travelled alone working as a freelance dancers and instructor between France, Germany and Holland, and was invited to California, USA where he met a lot of great
A huge change happened when he attended a concert with Michael Jackson in 1999; he was so inspired that he went back home to Senegal to start his own company – Lions of Africa. He wanted to merge the traditional culture into a modern frame on stage with different costumes, instruments, talents etc. so he set up an audition among street performers in a ghetto of Dakar with so many talented young people. The one who passed the audition were hired to build up a show to bring it
around the world to change the picture of Africa.
“I was tired of the negative picture the media was showing the African continent and STILL
is showing Africa and I knew this could be a great way to bring this other image directly to the people of Europe”.
At this time Lions of Africa were also discovered by the coming president of Senegal – Abdoulaye Wade – and suddenly they were among the top famous acts in Senegal and Gambia and became a part of his presidential campaign. Many would say Lions of Africa were a main reason why he was elected president.
“We had so many followers already. Our energy, our way of capturing the audience, make them feel happy and good about themselves and their roots had a big impact. So when he was elected as the new president we always had an important role when official visitors from other countries came to Senegal, like President George Bush, President Nelson Mandela, King of Morocco and many more”.