Dalrymple has long expressed a special respect and liking for Africans, and a recent visit to an African restaurant offers another occasion to express it, as described in this piece in The Salisbury Review:
My welcome was warm, however, and my praise of the food (which was sincere) pleased the owners no end. But I have no ambition or qualification to be a restaurant critic: what I really wanted to mention was the music played, not very loud, over the public address system in the restaurant. It was West African popular music that no doubt has a certain monotony after a time, but which nevertheless conveys a joie de vivre, an enjoyment of and tenderness towards life, that is so missing in our own popular music. It lifts the spirit, it does not depress: one does not want to stop one’s ears from it.
If a Martian were to descend to earth and were played West African and our own popular music and then asked which represented the higher civilisation, I have no doubt what answer he would return.