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Biography of Massa MAKAN DIABATé

Mali > Literature : Massa MAKAN DIABATé

Biography :

Massa Makan Diabaté (1938- 1988), was a Malian historian, author, and playwright.

Born in 1938 in Kita, Massa Makan Diabaté was the descendant of a long line of West African poets (griots). His uncle, Kélé Monson Diabaté, was considered a master griot, and Massa Makan Diabaté has said that he owes much to his uncle's teaching. Diabaté began training as a griot at the age of 7, though his training would later be interrupted to study in Guinea. Diabaté eventually moved to Paris, where he studied history, sociology, and political science before working for a number of international organisations such as UNICEF or UNESCO.
Returning to Mali, Diabaté settled into an administrative post in Bamako. His first works Janjon et autres chants populaires du Mali (Janjon and other popular songs of Mali, 1970), Kala Jata (1970), and L'aigle et l'épervier ou le geste du Soundjata (The Eagle and the Sparrowhawk or the Gesture of Soundjata, 1975), were French-language versions of Malinké epics and folktales. His trilogy of novels le Lieutenant, le Coiffeur, and le Boucher de Kouta (The Lieutenant, The Hairdesser, and The Butcher of Kouta, 1979-1982) won the 1987 Grand prix international de la Fondation Léopold Sédar Senghor.
Massa Makan Diabaté died in Bamako on January 27, 1988. The Malian government has named two high schools after him, one in Bamako and the other in his home region of Kayes.


1970 Janjon et autres chants populaires du Mali (Paris, éditions Présence Africaine)
1970 Kala Jata (Bamako, Editions Populaires)
1975 L'aigle et l'épervier ou la geste de Soundjata (Paris, éditions Oswald)
1973 Une si belle leçon de patience (play) (Paris, O.R.T.F / D.A.E.C)
1979 Le lieutenant de Kouta (Paris, Editions Hâtier)
1980 Le coiffeur de Kouta (Paris, Editions Hâtier)
1980 Comme une piqûre de guêpe (Paris, éditions Présence Africaine)
1982 Le boucher de Kouta (Paris, Editions Hâtier)
1985 L'assemblée des djinns (Paris, éditions Présence Africaine)
1986 Le Lion à l'arc (Paris, Editions Hâtier)

Last update : 08/27/2007

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