Another sad day for Mali

Image courtesy of Janet Goldner’s Facebook Page

In the first few months of my time in Mali, I was blessed to meet ad fellowship with some people that have made my trip here all the more pleasurable Kandioura Coulibaly, was one of those people. Coulibaly passed away last night. Coulibaly was one of the founding members of Groupe Bogolan Kasobané, which is an artist collective who focus is to preserve the textile and craft traditions of Mali.

While visiting his home he showed me some of the amazing jewelry, textile pieces and some of the amazing contemporary bogolan work he (and his collective) are doing. Coulibaly also showed me some really amazing Malian antique sculptures, beads and other items that his collective have been stewards of for many years. Some of the marking and inscriptions on these items only Coulibaly, his collective and other initiates know the meaning of; they are vital to the preservation and promotion of Mali art and culture.

I left his home that day inspired not only by what I saw, but also because of what I learned and conversation we had. Although Bamako is a large city that sometimes it feels very much like a small village, I would randomly run him at different art events and the like. The last time I saw him was a few weeks ago at the RENCONTRES DE BAMAKO and everything seemed fine, but we did not get a chance to talk at length, beyond greeting each other. Now I wish I had made the time to speak to him a little longer.

As Mali attempts to weather the winds of some tough times ahead, the loss of an artist of this caliber is really a horrific blow, one that unfortunately the politicians will not feel. The worst part of this lack of recognition of Mali’s cultural treasures and social fabric are some of the most powerful tools that  Mali has to combat the current realities here on the ground.

Click here for Janet Goldner’s essay from Poetics of Cloth, which talks a little bit about Groupe Bogolan Kasobané.

I will be adding more links as I dig stay tuned…