SAMBA Sene always thought he would live his life in Senegal, but not only has he settled in Edinburgh – he is making a major contribution to the Scottish cultural scene.

The singer/songwriter is co-founder of Afrifest Scotland, a new festival set up to encourage emerging talent from AfroScots who would otherwise not have a platform.

He is also a regular at music festivals and clubs around the country with his band Diwan, a diverse international collection of musicians who share a global outlook and love of West African rhythms.

Born in Dakar, the 46-year-old moved to Scotland in 1999 where he settled in the capital.

“I was married to someone from England who grew up in Scotland and we had a chance to live in England, but we came here first and liked it,” said Sene, who now works for Standard Life. “At first I was worried as I never thought I would leave Senegal. I had a good job as an accountant with a building company and had started building a house, but she was not well so we came back to the UK.”

He initially found work with Royal Bank of Scotland but his passion for music led him to begin busking so he could meet other musicians and become involved in the Scottish music scene.

It worked. He was noticed and eventually performed his first big gig at the Mela, borrowing musicians for a band from Bombskare, Scotland’s first ska band.

“After a few gigs I started getting booked and have never looked back, although the band has had a few changes over the years,” he said.

Sene has supported African artists including Youssou N’Dour, Vieux Farka Toure and Amadou & Mariam. Guest performances include singing with Orchestra Baobab at Glasgow’s Old Fruitmarket and with Baaba Maal’s band at Celtic Connections.

Sene was also a contributor to a BBC Radio Scotland commissioned collaboration with Maeve Mackinnon on The Exiles project exploring the theme of exile/migrants in Gaelic and Wolof. He has performed at the Scottish Parliament and for Prince Charles at Dancebase and the band has been featured in session on BBC Radio 3 (World On 3) and various BBC Radio Scotland shows.

After playing at Mela for several years, Sene realised the African community was not involved to the extent he thought was possible so. Along with friends Morag Neil and Wezi Mhura, he decided to start Afrifest Scotland.

The first event was held in Edinburgh’s Summerhall with the second at the Pleasance Theatre and, with interest growing, the team are aiming to make it a two-day outdoor festival for the first time this year at Saughton Park.

“I have been quite amazed, to be honest, to see the talent that is out there and that is why last year we took a break to build it up to a bigger scale,” he said.

Sene and Diwan are also working towards their next album.

“We are hoping to record it in Senegal as I want to take the Scottish musicians there so they can meet my friends and exchange their knowledge,” said Sene.

His roots are now strong in Scotland and he is aiming to bring his 18-year-old son to the country but is worried about visa restrictions.

“The UK is very tough now,” he said. “People are applying for visas to come here and they pay so much money then are refused. I have friends who have wanted to bring their mothers and fathers over from Senegal for their weddings but their visa has not been allowed even though they have no desire to stay here. It’s too cold.”